London 2012 Paralympic sailor Matt Bugg won both races in today’s somewhat dramatic opening of the International 2.4mR Class Australian Championship on Hobart’s windy River Derwent.
The 2.4mR class fleet racing down to the leeward mark on the Derent today - 2013 2.4mR National Championship
Several of the small single-handed yachts swamped in lumpy seas and others suffered rigging damage in the 15-18 knot north-westerly breeze with damaging gusts of up to 27 knots.
Derwent Sailing Squadron race officer Gilbert Leitch abandoned racing after two races with five of the 15 boat fleet forced to retire during race two
The experience of Bugg in handling the strong winds and choppy seas of the Derwent has given him an early break to win his third national championship over competitors from NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
The Tasmanian’s two closest rivals in race one, Sydney 2000 Paralympic sailor Peter Thompson from Canberra and Tasmanian Lisa Blackwood, who finished second and third respectively, both, were forced to retire from race two.
Blackwood’s boat suffered mast rigging damage while Thompson’s boat swamped in a spectacular out-of-control broach on a downwind run and filled with water. The boat went bow-down with its stern and rudder almost vertical, before levelling out, the deck awash but the in-built buoyancy keeping it afloat.
The fleet beating to windward off Hobart's Wrest Point Casino in Sandy Bay - 2013 2.4mR National Championship
The ACT sailor was unable to use his electric or manual pump and a heavy duty yacht club pump was needed to empty out the water.
Bugg also had his problems in the rough water, forced to use his manual bilge pump but kept the lead to win from Canberra sailor Peter Russell, sailing Jeelka.
Third place went to 15-year-old Jock Calvert, sailing a 2.4mR class yacht for the first time. 'I gave him a 30 minute introduction to the class,' commented Matt Bugg’s coach, Richard Scarr, 'and he took to it like a duck to water.'
However, Calvert is an accomplished sailor, chosen to represent Australian in the sailboard class at the ISAF world youth championships in Cyprus later this year.
DSS race officials hope to run at least four races tomorrow, but weather forecasts indicate similar fresh to strong winds on the Derwent.