by Andrew Gough
Unusual and difficult conditions have tested the strong Australian International 14ft Skiff fleet, as rain squalls pushed across Waterloo Bay today, keeping crews on their toes.
the fleet head downwind in a building breeze - Australian 14ft Skiff Championships 2012
With only one race scheduled, it was a testing light start in around five to eight knots. Leading out the left and most favored side was Mark Krstic and Andrew Wilson, hunting for their first race win of the series. Searching for the most pressure, Krstic and Wilson headed towards an ominous rain cloud that hung low over the left handside of the race track. Sticking to their guns the pair crossed the fleet and held off the rest of the pack rounding the first mark ahead.
'It was crazy, we sort of figured that side it was a lottery, we liked the pressure lines out there, the middle of the bay really dissipated,' said a relieved Krstic after racing.
'There were a few anxious moments, but as soon as we tacked we knew we could cross and that was that, plus the boat speed was feeling great'.
However as the clouds moved across the racetrack the breeze freshened to a moderate 15knots pushing the fleet quickly downwind. Finding their groove after a tough windward work, regatta leaders Brad Devine and Ian Furlong pressed on the heels of Krstic and Wilson as they rounded the second windward mark.
'We felt really well set up today, we sealed the race, he was behind us, we had a really nice drop caught that inside line and he ended up to leeward of us' said Wilson.
Things didn’t go quite as planned for Devine and Furlong as they hunted down Krstic. Sailing downwind on the second last leg they struck a creature of sorts in the water bringing their boat to a jolting stop.
'It was a shame, we were getting the boat in the groove up that last work in the breeze, but we hit the something flat chat with the kite up, we just hoped whatever we hit is alright!' said Devine.
The collision with the unknown sea creature left some damage to their foil making it impossible to move in the box.
'Our winning streak came to an end, because of a bloody fish!' said Furlong as he examined the damaged gear after racing.
The collision gave Krstic and Wilson the lead coming around the bottom mark and made their job easy up the final windward to the finish, sealing their first race win for the series.
Krstic and Wilson fly downwind on the last leg to take their first win of the series - Australian 14ft Skiff Championships 2012
a flat 14 is a fast 14 - Australian 14ft Skiff Championships 2012
Light fickle conditions tested the fleet before the breeze quickly built - Australian 14ft Skiff Championships 2012
Ian 'Footy' Furlong inspects the damage to their foil after hitting an unidentified flying sea creature - Australian 14ft Skiff Championships 2012
off the ramp at RQYS - Australian 14ft Skiff Championships 2012
Neil Patchett gets ready to launch his 14 at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron - Australian 14ft Skiff Championships 2012