After a perfect morning with bright sunshine and moderate breezes, the weather turned ugly at Sail Sydney on the final day. With just 10 minutes before the afternoon session was scheduled to start at 2pm, a thunderstorm swept the harbour and heavy rain blacked out the course. Twenty minutes later it was gone, along with most of the wind, and the sun came out.
Out on the course racing continued, but a second front, bringing lightning, thunder and vicious-looking skies, forced the PRO's hand and he called all fleets ashore. Fortunately, enough races had been sailed in all fleets to provide a series.
As always in NSW, the Flying 11 fleet was one of the biggest and it provided one of the best finishes. Two pairs of siblings were locked in a battle for the top spot and it eventually came down to a tie-breaker to decide the gold medal.
Zak and Jake Barnabas led going into the second day, but two bullets for Stephen and Rebecca Hancock from today's four races were enough to secure the victory. Both finished on 14 points but the Hancocks won three races over the two days, while the boys could manage just one.
The Flying 11s were one of the classes who were racing when the storm hit and Rebecca said it made life difficult: “We couldn't see which side was favoured,” she reported. However it didn't affect the wind, which Stephen described as “a bit fluky” in both strength and direction before, during and after the first storm.
With seven races already sailed before this morning, just one was needed to complete the 29er series. The Royal Freshwater Bay pair from WA, Annabelle Davies and Hayden Hunt, had some anxious moments when they finished fifth in that race, before being confirmed the winners by a handy four point margin.
“We made one mistake (going upwind) and it cost us four places,” Annabelle reported, looking anxious as they brought their skiff ashore.
However, their dramas were nothing compared with the young pair from Royal Prince Alfred who got entangled with a Flying 11 at the bottom mark. “We were on starboard and they were on port, so we were in the right,” said trimmer Annie Wilmot. “But they got a sheet caught round our pole and we were stuck for about a minute.”
“We lost two places but luckily we got it back,” added 13-year-old skipper, Natasha Bryant.
Those places were to prove vital as after eight races they were tied on 25 points with the first male-skippered boat, Harry Lawson and Simon Hoffman's Frontline. Both crews had won a race, but the girls had two second places to the boys' one, giving them silver on a countback.
On the first day, the girls gave the boys something to worry about in the very competitive 420 class but as the breezes freshened the boys managed to assert control.
Alec Brodie and Xavier Winston-Smith are a new combination, with Xavier switching from helm to crew this year owing to a growth spurt. The pair shows a lot of promise, winning the eight race series by a convincing six points from Finn Gilbert and Louie Collins.
The battle for third went down to the last race. Sophie McIntosh/Emily Summerell and Dana Tavener/Catherine Pagett had identical scorecards after their drop, each with a first, a second, three thirds and two fourths. By virtue of their third placing in the final race (compared with a fourth for their rivals) McIntosh and Summerell took the bronze medal.
Two other young sailors who had an excellent regatta were Thomas Vincent and Sean Atherton in the Laser Standard. Vincent's scorecard showed all firsts, seconds and thirds, recording just eight points from six races. Atherton had three bullets and was just two points behind, finishing clear of Lorenzo Cerretelli who was third.
The small Radial fleet managed just one race today before the second storm hit, with Oskar Hansen beating Peter Heywood and Dennis Kuhlmann for the gold medal.
Nathan Bryant (brother of Natasha) dominated the 4.7 fleet, scoring four bullets from seven races and winning comfortably from Antony Hawk and Max Quan.
For safety reasons it was essential to get the Optimist fleets ashore before the worst of the storm hit, leaving them with just one race today. In the Open fleet, Otto Henry was a clear winner on nine points, six ahead of Jay Karney. Karney took silver by a single point from Cole Tapper.
In the Intermediates, it was the battle of the Daniels, with Daniel Links beating Daniel Costandi by two points. Patrick Roos beat Finley Scade on a countback for the bronze.
Green Fleet is supposed to be an introduction to racing, with simplified rules and short courses which include beating, reaching and running. Instructors are on the course helping the back-markers and for most of the fleet just finishing is the aim of the game.
However, make a note of the name Garth Bickford from Hunters Hill Sailing Club. This young bloke put together an excellent regatta score that included one win, four second places and a third. With just one double-digit (11, which became his drop) on the card, he scored just 16 points from eight races. Others who sailed well in this division were Ryan Ewings (who won three races), Toby Rose and Joel Beashel.
With their bright red sails, the Mirrors are always easy to spot on the Harbour. This is a class where family combinations are encouraged and the first four placings went to family-sailed boats. Douglas and Charlotte Raftesath won five of the seven races to beat Mark and Maddison Nash by three points. Richard and Charlie Baker were three further points behind in third.
Sailing one-up in the big fleet of 29 Sabots, Henry Larkings from the Lane Cove 12ft Skiff Club was unstoppable. He won five of the seven races, dropping a fourth from the first day to finish with a near perfect score of seven from six. Tahlia Phillips pipped Jessica Swadling by a single point to take the silver.
With the day concluded early, there was time to reflect on the week's activities. After a year off in 2013, Sail Sydney was definitely back as a worthwhile addition to the racing calendar.
Good entry levels and strong competition among the Olympic and Invited classes such as the Moth and Flying Dutchman were features of the first three days before the Youth and more Invited classes took to the water on Friday and over this weekend.
The high level of competition and camaraderie among the young sailors was always obvious and only one major “hissy fit” was observed. Supporters, too, generally behaved themselves and the Opti officials said the ugly parent syndrome was generally “in abeyance” throughout the event.
Sail Sydney serves a useful purpose in the Olympic class calendar as a lead-in to the ISAF World Cup Melbourne, while for Youth and Invited classes it is an excellent warm-up to their class and Youth Nationals over Christmas.
Most sailors spoken to this afternoon agreed “we'll be back”.
– Sail Sydney Media
About Sail Sydney
Sail Sydney is part of Sydney's Summer Aquatic Events program. The NSW Government is a key Sail Sydney supporter along with Nautilus Marine, Gill Marine clothing, Steve Jarvin Motors, Lejen Marine, Tohatsu Outboards and Sydney Harbour Boat Storage.