AUS: SB20 smack downs and stars on day 1
Melbourne’s Port Phillip delivered cold and variable conditions for day one of the 2013 Brighton BMW SB20 National Championship, the breeze flicking wildly around WSW and ranging from 10 knots to a sudden squall of 25kts in race 3 that flattened four of the sportsboats and sent two ashore with damage.
Thermals, plenty of layers and full wet weather gear provided some protection from the elements, but these are wet boats, making hot showers and free snags a welcome touch at the end of the day back at host Sandringham Yacht Club on the eastern side of the Bay.
After four races on the opening day, Friday 25th October, Ian Brown’s One Design Sailing (NSW) is leading the prestigious pointscore from Nick Rogers’ Karabos (TAS) and Callum Burns’ Purple Patch (VIC).
Rogers copped a boom to the head in the third race, failing to duck low enough during a gybe.
“I was watching some starts up ahead,” he said gesturing to the Brown’s crew post-racing, “and suddenly I was seeing a different kind of star” he joked before seeking medical attention for a minor cut.
The fleet was jumpy at the start, a general recall first off helping to dissipate the butterflies. Abating and shifting winds trending left from 265 – 240 degrees and back saw a number of course changes by PRO Steve Aulich, including a shortening of leg length after the second race, to keep the starts rolling.
Brown, the lone NSW representative among a lopsided Tasmanian and Victorian line-up, has spent the week training on Port Phillip with his young 470 crew of tall blond identical twins Alexander and Patrick Conway, second best among the Australians results at the recent 470 worlds in France, and the fourth best 470 Aussie skipper, Scott Cotton.
Brown’s an old hand at this game, an Olympic 470 bronze medallist among other career highlights. He’s teaching the talented young sailors new tricks on a class of boat they hadn’t sailed until last week, and enjoying the “interesting intelligence transfer” between the generations, his Gen Y twins both PHD students and Cotton completing a Bachelor of Human Movement.
On today’s conditions Brown said, “There were lots of holes on the race course and the pressure was up and down. We got better at our starts and manipulating the boat, and generating speed.”
With three skippers among the four-man crew, Cotton says the two 20 somethings who aren’t in charge are trying to be quiet and leave Brown to command. When asked what it’s like having three skippers on board a 20-foot boat he quipped, “It’s great for the skippers!”
Tasmania’s Brett Cooper carries bow number 13 on local Sandringham Yacht Club SB20, Three Musketeers. Day one was marked by mixed fortunes including rudder damage that hampered steerage and had them towed ashore for the briefest of repair jobs. They started 9 minutes 45 seconds after the general fleet in race 1 and finished within the time limit, not long after the second last boat.
Race 2 and Three Musketeers staged an extraordinary recovery to be third around the bottom mark and second over the line while in race 3 things turned sour again when they were recalled for being OCS, or on the wrong side of the start line when the committee lowered the chequered flag.
The day finished prematurely for Nick Bez’s local SB20 A-Play when the squall in race 3 essentially pulled the rudder out of the back of the boat. “It was a good squirt, we broached and the boom hit the water,” said Bez. “Chris [Dare] was coming second then broke a spinnaker pole in the squall, we passed him and were second in the fleet on the final downwind leg, then had our smack down.”
A-Play was towed ashore and Bez sought permission from the race committee to lift his SB20 out of the water to inspect the damage, then it was off to scrounge for spare parts so they can return to the track tomorrow.
Dare shot ashore to pick up a borrowed spinnaker pole and made it back for the fourth start, “just”, helped by a general recall which bought his Brighton BMW crew some extra precious minutes.
Racing continues tomorrow, Saturday 26th October and Sunday with up to four windward/leeward races scheduled.
Saturday’s forecast is westerly 15 to 20 knots tending southwesterly in the afternoon then easing to 10 to 15 knots in the evening and Sunday is likely to bring crews south-westerly 10 -15 knots decreasing to 5 -10 knots in the morning becoming southerly 10 -15 knots during the afternoon.
Report by Lisa Ratcliff