There were card games all morning and snakes’n’ladders on the race course during an intriguing, rain-interrupted second day of the 2013 Australian Formula 18 National Championships on Lake Macquarie NSW.
Down but not out - Rod Waterhouse and Chris Way are the leading Masters - Australian Formula 18 National Championships
After a bright and breezy start to the regatta, where racing was eventually suspended due to 25-knot winds, the scene at Mannering Park Amateur Sailing Club was one of complete contrast – steady rain and glassy waters beneath a breathless sky.
A fickle sou’easter eventually filled in at around 1.30pm, and competitors dialled down their rig tuning for light airs. Two races were eventually sailed, with positions swinging wildly throughout as the more tactical sailors got a chance to shine.
Holding a four-point advantage, Jason Waterhouse and Brett Goodall immediately stamped their authority on the regatta, winning Race 4 in style.
A general recall was need for the first start as the fleet was itching to get underway, however the second attempt was clean. Adam Beattie, sailing with Jamie Leitner, was first to hook into the breeze on the left side of the course and led at the top mark from Waterhouse/Goodall and the Italian team of Matteo Ferraglia and Lorenzo Bianchini.
Masters Rod Waterhouse and Chris Way were showing all their wile and guile, rounding sixth in the 36-boat fleet … only to be 15th by race’s end.
Son Jason Waterhouse grabbed the lead from Beattie after a blistering downwind leg and cleared away to a 45-second win over the Italians, followed by Queenslanders Matt Homan and Adrian Forset.
Beattie slipped to eighth after leading early, while the father-and-son combination of Brett and Lachie White grabbed a creditable seventh placing on their Hobie Wildcat … at just 14, Lachie is the youngest sailor competing at the nationals.
Race 2 saw two general recalls and a further wait as the race committee altered the course. Rain settled in for the afternoon as well, but Homan quickly proved that his first race result was no fluke.
Sailing a 12-year-old Capricorn Mk1 cat, he and Forset got into perfect synch with the shifts and led handsomely at the top mark. They were followed around by Brett Burvill and Ryan Duffield from WA in their Windrush Edge, then Adam Beattie. The Italians were fifth and Waterhouse was eighth.
There were ladders aplenty on the next downwind leg as Adam Beashel and crew Grant Pellew crept into contention and Ferraglia/Bianchini climbed to third. Homan held a 40-second advantage going into the final leg and was never headed, however fortunes fluctuated wildly for the rest of the fleet.
First, Waterhouse and Goodall played their out-of-jail card by gybing immediately at the mark and threading through the starboard tackers towards the wind line. They flew home to finish third, just metres behind the Italians who’d also done a Houdini impersonation.
Arguably the most pain was suffered by Beashel/Pellew as they slipped from second to ninth place.
It left three crews with four points for the day – Waterhouse/Goodall, Ferraglia/Bianchini and Homan/Forset – but with a discard counted it was the overnight leaders who had stretched their margin to eight points over Burvill/Duffield and Beattie/Leitner.
‘We weren’t in the best shape during the second race but the boat has really good downwind speed and caught up nicely. Our goal is top three in all the races because they’re a keeper, particularly with the drops,’ Waterhouse said.
‘In our last regatta we didn’t go so well in the light so it’s a big confidence booster. We’d thought the breeze might fill so we left the mast rake back but eased off the diamond tension to make the sail a bit fuller.’
Matt Homan was ‘stoked’ with his win in an older design: ‘We had a good start and just tried to stay in front from there, although it’s a bit hard in that breeze. There were some big gusts coming down and we kept trying to find them.’
Ferraglia was also smiling after a consistent performance in a boat he’d barely sailed. ‘The course was very tactical today,’ he said. ‘Our crew work was fast, our tactics were good, and the boat was also really fast – we are still getting used to it.
‘I’m a bit sad, now, that we capsized and had an OCS yesterday, because otherwise we’d be doing really well.’
While Rod Waterhouse and Chris Way are still leading the Masters division, Way said their day had more downs than ups. ‘It was tricky … it was one of those days. The wind was shifting through 45 degrees and there were lots of holes, so if you were caught on the wrong side you were out of the game. The way these boats accelerate they can really punish you if miss the pressure.’
The regatta, sponsored by John Cootes Furniture Warehouse, concludes tomorrow. For full results see the Mannering Park Amateur Sailing Club website - http://www.manneringparkasc.org.au/temp/results/F18%20Results%20Race%201,2,3,4,5.pdf