2018 Gill Flying 11 National Championships
Manly 16' Skiff Club
Dates: 13th - 19th January 2018
2016 Flying 11 National Championship
January 10th - 16th, 2016
Belmont 16s Sailing Club - Lake Macquarie, NSW.
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NATIONALS REPORT BY JESSE DRANSFIELD
Flying 11 National Championships
January 2016 Belmont 16FSSC
This January has seen yet another gripping Flying National Titles, held on the windswept waters off Belmont 16’ Skiff Club, Lake Macquarie. Spectators and competitors alike came expecting a close regatta, and were not disappointed with close racing amongst the 68 boats.
The first day of the regatta saw two races in 10-13kn of shifty winds. The invitation race was won by Nomad, sailed by Jesse and Zoe Dransfield, with MWD, sailed by Daniel Heyworth and Alex Hart in second. By Race 1 the wind shifts had increased in magnitude, which, along with the brisk chop, made it a tough race to sail. After a close finish, MWD took first place, while Protagonist, crewed by Jesse Lilley and Tyler Dransfield, came in 2nd.
Only one race was run on both days two and three of the regatta due to light winds. Day two involved a long wait after three general recalls: the tension on the line was tangible. A gusty Northeasterly of about 15kn stirred up a choppy sea that would become a familiar challenge for the competitors over the remainder of the regatta. Once Race 2 was finally underway, the fleet began to show spectators what Flying 11’s could do, with the combination of a gusty breeze and well-laid reaches resulting in some impressive displays of speed. Race 2 was won by Nomad, with Protagonist in 2nd and Wedgewood, sailed by Brendan Crisp and Daniel Maree (TAS), in 3rd.
Day 3 saw similarly challenging conditions, with a gusty southerly of 12-16kn and more lumpy seas. Race 3 was won by Nomad, with MWD in 2nd and Protagonist in 3rd.
Due to good winds predicted for the rest of the week, the fourth day of the Regatta was, as scheduled, a lay day, giving all the competitors a well-deserved rest from the strain of racing in such challenging conditions. At this point in the regatta, Nomad was leading overall, closely followed by Protagonist and then Wedgewood. The lay day was spent relaxing and exploring the beaches and streets of Belmont.
Sailors woke on Day 5 to the forecast of strong breeze. Eager to make up for opportunities lost, the race committee sailed three races. Race 4 was the windiest, a consistent 20kn stirring the lake into a frenzy of whitecaps. This is when the fleet could truly show of the Flying 11’s sheer speed, consistently planing upwind and tearing down the reaches. A memorable moment of the regatta was at the first rounding of the top mark in this race, where Nomad, rounding in first place, was the only boat to risk hoisting the spinnaker. After a gripping minute of pointing well below the wing mark, a well-executed kite drop saw them still comfortably ahead at the wing mark. They went on to win the race by a large margin, with Protagonist in 2nd and Hammertime, sailed by Tom Dawson and Brin Liddell (B16FSSC), in 3rd.
Race 5 took place in slightly less breeze, and saw the tense finish of the first three boats within the space of three seconds. Schmick, crewed by Zac and Jake Barnabas, pipped Nomad and Wedgewood right on the finish line, having led all race.
The breeze had been steadily dropping, and by Race 6, the third and final race of the day, it was barely above 10kn. After multiple General Recalls, the first black flag of the regatta was flown. This flag saw the disqualification of about ten boats, including regatta leader Nomad. At some point the breeze dropped out completely, leaving the fleet stranded in a glass-out halfway down the square run. The course was shortened at the bottom mark, and the race was won by Wedgewood, with MWD finishing in 2nd.
The sixth day of the Regatta saw more tough conditions, with a gusty 18-25kn southerly and lumpy swells. Two races were sailed. Race 7 was won by Schmick with MWD 2nd, Protagonist 3rd and Nomad recovering from a bad start to 4th. Interestingly, there was a dead heat for 5th between Hammertime and The Big Apply (Liam Hazell and Oscar Brownbill) who had a cracking race.
Race 8 was won convincingly by Firefly (Matt and Luke Rogers; RQYS) who led from start to finish. 2nd was MWD followed by Protagonist in 3rd place. Hydromatic, sailed by Rebecca Hancock and Eva Peel from Northbridge/Belmont, sailed an awesome race as lightweights in the strong breeze, finishing in 4th place.
With the seventh and final day of the regatta looming, the top five positions were up for grabs. MWD was leading overall, however anything was possible. Race 9 was sailed in a puffy 13-15kn from the South East, and was won by Nomad, with Hammertime having a great race to finish 2nd, just ahead of MWD in 3rd. Panther, sailed by Connor Weare and Riley Currey from Port Kembla SC showed their potential with their best race in 4th place as did Flight Time (Marcus Livingstone and Beau Preston, Belmont ) in 5th.
Due to the other competitive boats placing poorly in this race, the Regatta win was narrowed down to a fight between MWD and Nomad. During Race 10, the final race, the tension on the start line was high. By this time the wind had picked up to a healthy 16 knots. This was to be the most gripping race yet. MWD, due to their consistent results so far, could afford to have a bad race - the crew of Nomad, with their Black Flag Disqualification, could not. Therefore, MWD did everything they could to bring down the result of Nomad. The pressure was on. From the starting gun MWD attempted a tight cover over Nomad, which was then broken later up the first work. However, a favorable wind shift saw MWD in 12th place at the first mark followed by Nomad in 15th . Should they have finished with these results, MWD would win overall.
Nomad went low on the reach, and was able to get buoy room on MWD at the gybe mark. Then, a quarter of the way up the second work, disaster struck for Nomad - they were forced to bear away to avoid an intruding yacht, and MWD were once more able to exert a tight control over Nomad. MWD rounded the top mark for the second time slightly ahead of Nomad, still around the tenth position. This continued until halfway down the run when, through some clever tactics and an early gybe, Nomad was able to worm her way inside MWD, until by the bottom mark they were in front. The rest was history. Due to a fortunate left shift, Nomad went on to win Race 10 by a large margin, with MWD in third.
This marked the end of a challenging and fun Regatta. The whole fleet is to be commended on their competitiveness, perseverance and courage in these tough conditions.
The top ten placings were as follows:
1st All Girl Crew – Flying Hellfish; Grace Powers and Taylor Springett (13th overall)
1st Junior Skipper – Hammertime; Tom Dawson and Brin Liddell (6th overall).