Australian Flying 11 National Championship - Title up for grabs

2011 Nationals Race 9 - Gill® 2011 Australian Flying 11 National Championship
David Pricey
Gill® 2011 Australian Flying 11 National Championship reports on Races 6, 7, 8 and 9, from Lake Macquarie, NSW.

Races 6 and 7

The fourth day of competition in the Gill® 2011 Australian Flying 11 National Championship once again started with little to no breeze and the balmy humid conditions had everyone guessing what just might be dished up for the scheduled races 6 and 7. The series as per the notice of race would be complete after six races and today would also be where a drop of a crews worst scored would be invoked where the positions for many crews would dramatically be rearranged and perhaps a glimpse of the eventual outcome would be exposed.

1352 Boris Felix Grech and Adam Bloomfield M16SSC have enjoyed a relatively comfortable margin as leaders of the fleet to date however the drop would narrow the margin from some of the crews considerably. Yes, the tension was humming along nicely in the boat park. Today would be the start of the sprint to the finish of the series.

The forecast weather was for an easterly system of around 15kts from 1100hrs, this equating to a day of unsteady pressure with oscillating winds and a fair deal of lucky dipping for crews with such a large fleet and start line. Well, they lied again haha.

There were numerous large fluctuations of wind across the course and it took a number of attempts to try and serve up a fair go for the fleet before the RO Col Chidgey managed to get race 6 underway at 1120hrs in 6kts with 60+deg fluctuations. The previous attempted starts had heavily favoured the right side from the boat end but Mother Nature dished up a swiftie and those on the left working up to the top mark clearly had a clear and distinct advantage over all on the right.

Local crew 1373 Hammer Time Jack Buchan and Tom Grimes B16SC looked mighty impressive over to the left and crossed back nicely over the top of the fleet on their way to try and protect their gains with half the fleet far off to the right.

It was more than evident by the first mark that those who stuck with the left kicked a goal and 1276 Predator Paddy and Finn Gilbert HHSC were the first to get the cheese and rounded 15secs ahead of series leaders 1352 Boris closely followed by 1263 Oscar Kurt Hansen and Lindsay Pike B16SC, a little further back to 1380 Missleading Kanya Raj and Sarah Jones HHSC, 1237 Geedub Matthew Lang and Sam Booth GSC and 1343 Vendetta Louis Halford and Lewis Molloy ASC.

Whilst many of the money makers within the fleet positioned themselves up the left, an inordinate number of others were still hanging out to dry in virtual nothingness on the right, suffering an everlasting realisation that race 6 was obviously going to be their drop of the series notwithstanding those that already carried an alphabet prize from any preceding races. 'Cruel but fair' – not! as some would say but that’s the great nature of this sport.

The four leading boats managed to embellish their riches along the reaches and up the next work, ever so carefully creeping up the hill, banking any advantage when possible with 1352 staying out to left the longest whilst 1276 cut back over the other two on port back to centre.

By the second top mark rounding, the crowd could not determine even 100m out whether 1352 Boris out on the lay from the left had done the deed over 1276 Predator who was busily covering their advantage up from underneath the mark in the centre.

1352 Boris in the end snapped a very close tack at the mark just half a boat length ahead of 1276 Predator with 1263 Oscar seemingly tied to the transom of each these other two, 1380 Missleading following 20secs behind and the rest of the pack some 40secs behind her.

At 1240hrs, 1276 Predator crossed the line in a soft easterly 6-8kts about 30secs ahead of 1263 Oscar with 1352 Boris only a whisker from their stern.

The fleet returned to the beach for a lunchbreak with many of the scalded preying for some sturdier breeze to negate the morning’s session, obviously many also revelling in their success too from the morning’s race in the soft and varied conditions.

Race 7 was lined up and ready to roll at 1500hrs in a slightly better seemingly infilling breeze of around 11kts however the cloud mass just off the coast to the east played its part in dampening a steady breeze that was forecasted. The fleet mucked up the first attempt with half the fleet over the line and the I flag unfurled for another go, again too many too eager and jumping the gun once again.

Black beauty was released from the kit bag which did have the desired effect for the fleet except for the runners-up from last years nationals local crew 1305 Lethal Blonde Kris Fay and Emma Knighton B16SC who lamped onto the hammer 2secs too early from 20secs off the line at the pin, their bemused faces a storybook of 'oh well – it was worth a try' and with nothing able to stop the charge fell off the cliff and returned to the beach with another alphabet award and an early mark from school. It looked like a good idea at the time perhaps!

1382 MWD Ashley and Daniel Heyworth M16SSC fared well up the first work and rounded the top mark clear ahead with a 20sec advantage over next boat 1365 Whatever Angus Williams and Jesse Lilley M16SSC, 1327 Cheeky Sam Holmes and Daniel Nugent M16SSC, 1276 Predator and 1263 Oscar off on their ride to the wing mark.

By the second reaching leg down to leeward 1382 MWD had bolted, 1276 had snuck through ahead of 1369 The Whammy Michael Koerner and Joshua Ponton ASC, 1392 Oh Ryan Ryan Wilmot and Tristan Bongolan M16SSC, 1327 Cheeky and 1365 Whatever.

1382 MWD continued to find some god cards and rounded the top of the course on the second lap 1min15secs ahead of 1276 Predator, 1369 The Whammy, 1392 Oh Ryan and 1327 Cheeky.

The breeze, the sunshine, the leader remained the same and 1382 MWD crossed the line for their second win ahead of 1276 Predator and 1393 Wave Runner Malcolm and Harry Parker from ASC snapping up third spot.

With a drop now in the series after seven races, 1352 Boris 21pts have a reduced lead over 1276 Predator 28pts followed by 1365 Whatever 53pts. The Junior competition leader is 1392 Oh Ryan and first All-Girl leaders are still 1374 Fired Up.

Races 7 and 8

The penultimate day of competition in the Gill® 2011 Australian Flying 11 National Championship brought sunny skies once again and – you guessed it – no wind. At least that was the early scenario leading up to the time the first warning signal was due to sound at 1100hrs.

RO Col Chidgey met with the Race Committee and it was unanimously decided to fly 'where’s Wally’s Hat' to pull up the fleet and await some breeze. The abundant morning dew gave an indication that things could get better so long as the frustrating clouds kept their distance both inland and off shore.

Good decision that as the breeze slowly crept in from the east and the fleet was let loose in race 8 after a jump start on the first attempt at 1230hrs in a building 12kts from the east nor-east.

The majority of the fleet headed north to the shoreline and played the left side of the course. By the top mark, the crews from the left led the turn with brothers 1276 Predator Paddy and Finn Gilbert HHSC just a boat length ahead of 1373 Hammer Time Jack Buchan and Tom Grimes B16SC, 1397 The Big Apple Matt Stenta and Simon Murnaghan M16SSC, 1394 Whomp Nick and Shaun Connor M16SSC and 1333 Sudden Impact Mitchell Webb and Simon Hoffman B16SC making an appearance in the top five.

By now there was plenty of wind to get these dynamic little dinghies to dance on their aft-quarter to the wing mark to much delight of both the F11 crews and spectators alike. The high level of skill amongst this year’s fleet was more than evident and they arrived at the corner in no time at all.

1276 Predator returned to the top of the course 30secs ahead of 1397 The Big Apple followed by 1373 Hammer Time and 1394 Whomp, by now a distinct leader group off to the leeward mark.

It was the same order of ceremony for the first three crews at the top mark for the final rounding, 1276 Predator now a clear minute ahead of 1397 The Big Apple, 1373 Hammer Time with 1393 Wave Runner Malcolm and Harry Parker ASC and 1310 Twisted Harry Morton and Anita McCallum B16SSC in the mix at the front end.

It was no surprise to see 1276 cross the finish line all alone and claim their second win for the championship.

The fleet returned to the bottom of the course and racked up for another exciting start with race 9 getting the nod at 1500hrs, only 1397 The Big Apple having to return to the line after the individual recall was signalled.

The breeze now was a feisty 15-18kts, more to the left now that the earlier race and the short sharp chop was flying in the faces of the crews taking the brunt of the spray and wave action on their work up the first beat.

1394 Whomp just put their heads down and seemingly bolted up on the left hand side of the course to reach the top mark first, 1365 Whatever Angus Williams and Jesse Lilly M16SSC arriving next only to cut the corner too fine requiring a donut to redeem themselves whilst 1378 Slick Nick Williams and Chris Holmes M16SSC filled in the gap, 1373 Hammer Time and series leaders 1352 Boris Felix Grech and Adam Bloomfield HHSC squeezing through a closely knitted arrival from starboard tack. By now 1365 Whatever had hit the drink and this created a log jamb that re-sorted quite a few of the following crews clambering for a lane to scream off to the wing mark.

1394 Whomp maintained their lead and led the leeward leg clear ahead of 1378 Slick, 1305 Lethal Blonde Kris Fay and Emma Knighton B16SC doing close battle with 1362 Guccii Harry Price and Simon Boardman M16SSC a boat length astern.

By the last rounding at the top of the course for race 9, 1394 Whomp had secured a very comfortable minutes lead from 1378 Slick who themselves was 50secs ahead of 1362 Guccii.

The last reaches presented a wonderful display of F11s at their utmost best, the leading crew later remarking that they had never been as fast in the boat.

1394 Whomp conquered the last work and the race crossing the line and claiming their second win ahead of 1362 Guccii with a championship PB second place and 1373 Slick in their PB third place too.

And so ended indisputablly the most exciting race day of the regatta, the leaders bunched up for a do or die shot at the 2011 Australian Flying 11 National crown with one race still to be fought.

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