by Marc Ablett
In probably the closest racing seen in the last 30 years of the NSW Sharpie fleet, the battle lines have been drawn. New boats an eight time reigning state champion and some young guns all mixing it up, creating an unreal atmosphere on the water and off.
Space Monkeys sending it on saturday afternoon
Run in conjunction with this years Kembla Klassic run out of Wollongong club Port Kembla. This is an annual event not to be missed, the on-site camping, kids running amok and a lot of beers flowing well into the night.
The fleet bunched together on the run
Racing started on Saturday afternoon with 16 Sharpies on the line, in a 12-18knot Sou-easter, pressure was a bit up and down but it provided a solid race track. Several good boats have been purchased from South Australia and WA over the last few years giving the fleet a performance edge, there is now nothing in speed between about 8-9 boats with the remainder of the fleet starting to put the pressure on as well.
As the fleet took off from the line, it was Truck, Blur and Deep Sea Racing Prawns that took an early advantage, Blur took the lead until the last lap where Truck made a move and clicked into gear, veteran and ex-National Champ Rick Shortridge found the go button and slipped through to second. Around the last can, Blur held a slender lead over Deep Sea Racing Prawns and Shazam, only to lose three boats on the last work to finish sixth. Shazam pipped the Prawns by two seconds for third.
Space Monkeys struggling to make the wing mark
Saturday night saw the Sharpie lads leading the way with a number of them not seeing the pillow until around 3:30am after the Aussies beat the Kiwis in the world cup. Most were in a bit of a daze the morning after and the light wind forecast wasnt helping the situation.
Sundays Racing was much lighter and some unbelievably big shifts. The morning race the Prawns nailed the start, to open up a reasonable lead half-way up the first work. Only to be headed by the young guns on Pleasure & Pain who have good form in these conditions, 18yr Old Nick Marzano had the boat flying. Reigning State Champ Michael Forster in Smoke started his climb back up the leader board to pressure P&P all the way around finally taking the lead in the final work to the finish, you could throw a blanket over the rest of the fleet, the leader board had been tipped upside down from the previous day with Blur, Truck and Deep Sea Racing Prawns seemingly out of phase with the shifting breeze.
Truck on their way to a heat win on satruday.
The afternoon race started positively, with some more breeze than the previous race about 8-12 knots. The Prawns jumped out of the blocks again to lead by 20 seconds at the top mark the first time, holding that position for most of the first lap. The wing mark there was a pile up of about 10 boats and the positions shuffled again. Shazam got through the prawns who were now out of phase with the pressure, Smoke was moving through, while Truck and the Prawns headed a long way left, possibly putting an order in at the fish and chip shop on the point. This didn't pay and both boats went from heroes to zeroes in one work. Smoke and Shazam staged a great tactical battle all the way to the finish with Shazam getting the nod.
The Racing over the weekend was fantastic and with everyone carrying a reasonably big score going into the second round on the Harbour at Balmoral Sailing Club 15th/16th of February anything can happen.
Shazam David Dixon-Hughes is leading the way with consistency and a score of 3,1,3
Smoke Michael Forster is second with 5,2,1
Proud Aussie Rick Shortridge has a 2,5,3
There is a blanket over the rest of the fleet.
We have 23 Boats registered for the states and hope to have most of them out over the next two rounds. This is all leading in well to when NSW host the nationals in 2014/2015 at Georges River.
If your interested in any information about the nationals, states or clubs, or want to get a boat, click here.