They had to wait a day for the wind to settle, but the competitors enjoyed a fantastic day’s racing on day two of the ACO Musto Skiff World Championship in Blairgowrie, Australia.
It was blowing 14 to 15 knots at the start of race one, and Britain’s Andy Rice did his customary port-tack start from the pin end across the top of the fleet and out to the favoured right-hand side of the course close to the shore. However Richie Robertson from Australia is famed for his big-breeze speed and by the top mark had closed the gap to Rice by two boatlengths. Rice bore away, let out too much mainsheet, and the boat tipped in to windward, leaving the way clear for Robertson to cruise to a clear win. Another Brit, Dave Annan, was holding second for a good chunk of the race, but just missed out on the finish line to the fast-closing Thor Schoenhoff from Australia who took second place.
The breeze softened for race two, and this time the left was the place to be, with Britain’s human lever, Dave Poston, getting the best of the tricky first beat to lead around the top mark. However, the patchy breeze made it hard to defend and he was swallowed up by the chasing pack at the bottom of the run.
Scotsman Jamie Hilton, always a strong performer on the opening day of any Musto Skiff championships, fought his way through to the lead in the 10-knot shifting breeze and took the race win followed by fellow Brit Alex Knight with local bloke Wayne Bates taking third.
The breeze was slightly up again for the final race of the afternoon, and this time it was a battle between two of the pre-event favourites from Australia, with former World Champion Jon Newman just holding off top 49er sailor Will Phillips, and another Aussie James Sly taking third place in the 12 knot breeze.
There was a lot to think about on the race course. By late afternoon the tide had turned and was washing boats upwind at a hefty pace, making it easy to overstand the layline to the top mark. No side ever paid the whole time, the gusts were patchy, and the current also played its part in the tactics.
After three races, Newman leads overall with 12 points, while Knight is in second overall, an impressive result for a Pom nursing a bad back. Newman commented: “That’s a pretty unusual wind direction for this place and those were pretty untypical conditions. The last race I didn’t go as far to the corner as some people and that was probably the thing that helped, but Will [Phillips] was doing the same moves as me and looking strong. He’s definitely one to watch this week, and Alex Knight has obviously proved he is too.”
Bates and Poston also put in solid scores to sit in third and fourth overall, and the event is shaping up to be a battle between Aussies and Brits, with five of each nation in the top 10 overall.
by Andy Rice