In the closest of shaves, Nick Press/Andrew Stevenson (Sydney Sailmakers) won the NSW 12ft Skiff Championship defeating Brett Hobson/Brad Phillips (Garde) by one point to take the title ahead of the 12ft skiff Interdominion to be sailed on Sydney Harbour in the early New Year.
Press and Stevenson were always going to be hard to stop and won three out of five races and were second in the remaining two, while the Garde duo won two races and took second place in the other three. Their results shut out their opponents in the series sailed over two weekends at different venues on Sydney Harbour.
There was an eight-point gap to third placed Jonathon Temple/Richard Jones (Lincoln Crowne), who fought to the end to claim the final podium place by just one point over Murray Press (father of Nick Press) and his crew Scott Lanham (Big Foot Custom Trapeze Harnesses).
There may have been some sighs of relief when final day’s Race 6 was abandoned due to the storms and a shifting breeze. Rigs make for good lightning conductors, so it was smart call it a day, but one more race could have turned the top four places around.
Decorated yachtswoman and occasional skiff sailor, Adrienne Cahalan, also threw her hat in the ring, skippering Chapman High Performance Sailing, with Brett Phillips crewing. The only female skipper, she and Phillips finished 11th in the 15-boat fleet.
Press and Stevenson closed out the competition on handicap as well, with the Garde crew repeating their second place. Dave Lusty/Glenn Farquhar (The Bird) filled out the top three.
The first round of the NSW Championship was held at the Sydney Flying Squadron at Kirribilli. Day 1 of the Series was sailed in pleasant moderate 8-11 knot north-easterlies which increased to around 15 by afternoon. Day 2 was taken up a notch when big north-east and northerly winds gusted to 25 knots and more. It made no difference to the top two. Press/Stevenson fired off two bullets and then finished second in Race 3. Hobson/Phillips chased Press around the course to finish with a pair of seconds and trumped them in the final race for a win. Temple/Jones were in good shape with a pair of thirds, but were dismasted in Race 3, ending their chances in circumstances that caused a few breakages.
Lane Cove 12’ Skiff Club hosted the second round on the weekend and the skiffies were at the mercy of a light variable easterly breeze. Given the forecast, the big rigs were brought out. Amid frenzied tacking duels straight off the Clarkes Point start of Race 4, Press/Stevenson and Hobson/Phillips had already stamped their authority by the first mark in the shifty light airs and were not headed from there. Temple and Jones were third, but the racing was extremely close.
Race 5 was held in extremely shifty winds, oscillating between south-east and east, while the flags on the Harbour Bridge were showing north-east. The start off Clarkes Point was delayed 40 minutes while officials waited for rain-squalls and 90 degree shifts to settle. Finally off, Murray Press/Scott Lanham were away best, but by the end had dropped to third behind Hobson/Phillips and Press/Stevenson.
Race 6 was abandoned, handing the title to the pair on Sydney Sailmakers.
These results could be telling going into the Interdominion. Despite sailing on home turf and getting a good workout in the States, the Aussies will need to stay on their toes to beat their Kiwi counterparts, some of whom will arrive at the end of December to reacquaint themselves with Sydney Harbour.
For the first time in 10 years, the 12’s will return to Sydney Harbour proper when the acclaimed Australian versus New Zealand 12ft skiff Interdominion Championship, conducted by the 12ft Skiff Association and hosted by the Australian18 Footers League at Double Bay, is held from 3-10 January, 2015.
Di Pearson, 12ft skiff media