Four races on a windy final day of the ACO Musto Skiff World Championship held the potential for all kinds of place changing, but Jon Newman kept his nerve to win a second world title in this demanding singlehander.
With the breeze gusting up to 25 knots off the Blairgowrie shore, but also shifting through as much as 30 degrees, it was a far from straightforward race course. Blasting out to a corner was rarely the best answer, unless you wanted to minimise manoeuvres. Playing the shifts and gusts was the best way to do it, provided you had the skills to make it work.
In the first race of the afternoon, Will Phillips did what he needed to do if he was to bring the fight to Newman for the world title. He led the race all the way to the finish, only to tip in on the final gybe to the line. By the time he righted the boat he could only manage 11th while fellow Australian Thor Schoenhoff cruised past for the win, and Newman was fifth.
Richie Robertson, who won the first heat a few days ago, has struggled in the light to medium airs that dominated the middle part of the competition, but the 100kg-plus local sailor was back in his element today. He was third in the first heat, then won the next, 10th in the third and second in the last race of the regatta. This dragged up him up into 19th overall.
Meanwhile Newman was doing enough to secure the regatta, not always starting that strongly but relying on his incredible boat handling, windshift spotting and all-round boatspeed to charge through the fleet. He ended up winning the championship with two races to spare, but stayed on the water anyway and finished off in style by winning the final race.
“It’s great to win the championship again,” said Newman, whose other title came in Perth at the other end of Australia. “Will’s a friend and he put up a good battle. He’s a great sailor so I’m happy to have won against such a good competitor.” Phillips finished in second overall at his first Musto Skiff World Championship, some way in front of the battle for third.
George Hand from Great Britain was on the charge today, and crossed the finish line of the final race in fifth. He stopped to look back at where his rival for third place was sitting. Jamie Hilton was charging down to the line at full pace with three boats coming in from the far side, all with a gybe to complete before they could cross the finish line. At just the moment when they least needed it, the three port-gybers were hit by a mega-gust that tipped them all into the drink. Hilton swept past and crossed the line in ninth place. He had finished on equal points with Hand, but Hilton’s two bullets from earlier in the week broke the tie in the Flying Scotsman’s favour.
First Master (over 45) was Wayne Bates in 9th overall and first Grand Master (over 55) was Arthur Brett, three-time Contender World Champion, in 11th overall. First Youth was Hayden Brown (under 25) in 28th.
This evening Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron hosts the prizegiving and bids farewell to the overseas competitors who will all meet at the next ACO Musto Skiff World Championship in Medemblik, the Netherlands, where more than 100 competitors are expected to compete. Newman plans to be there to defend his world title.
by Andy Rice