International Mirror Dinghy Nationals 2013 – Razor-sharp finish

Australian Mirror champions for the third time, skipper Jessie Atherton (right) and Katherine Maher)
The International Mirror Dinghy Nationals 2013 had a pulsating finish as Jessie Atherton and Katherine Maher squeaked past the Victorian mother and son tandem of Anita Scott-Murphy and Ben Cruse to bag the title.

Just one point separated the Tasmanians, sailing Kamikazi, and the Victorians in Bob, going into today’s windswept final race in Montrose Bay on the upper reaches of Hobart’s River Derwent. At the end of the race, the margin was still one point.

The Tasmanian crew, from Kingston Beach Sailing Club, south of Hobart, have been sailing a Mirror together for seven years and in that time have now won three National and six Tasmanian titles as well as finishing second all-women crew at the World championship in Albany, WA, two seasons ago.

'But this has been the closest and the toughest win ever,' said Jessie after finishing second in the final race, with their rivals from Victoria in third place. 'It was a real nail biter, with plenty of luffing our opponents and calling for buoy room to hold our vital lead.'

The Mirror victory was the second sailing win this week for 20-year-old Katherine Maher, a second year medical student in Hobart. She joined her father Bruce in the crew of Anthony Ellis’ Lotus 10, Moonshadow, which took first place in the PHS division of the Launceston to Hobart, her first long ocean race.

'I really enjoyed the offshore racing,' Katherine said, with Jessie adding that she might go big boat racing as some time…'once I’ve graduated and got a job.' Jessie, 22, is in her final year of medicine at the Burnie campus of UTAS,

The final race for the Mirror fleet was sailed in strong and hot northerly of 15-20 knots with one recorded gust of 36 knots with an early capsize temporarily ‘taking the wind out of the sails’ of Anita and her 12-year-old son, Ben.

They recovered quickly to still round in fourth place, setting off in hot pursuit of the Tasmanians and at the leeward mark, with a temporary drop in the wind, the three leading boats, Kamikaze, Bulletproof, sailed by West Australian Simon Barwood and his daughter Sidona, and Bob, rounded just seconds apart.

To win the title, Bob needed to win the final race whereas Kamikaze would take the title by either winning the final race, or Bob coming anywhere other than first.

At the end of the final race, Jessie and Katherine came in second, with Anita and Ben third, the final scores for the top five boats being: Kamikaze 8. Bob 9, Bulletproof 18, Storefresh (Ken Barnes and Alex Kingsley) 24, Just Do It (Ethan Prieto-Low and James Stout) 33 points.

The Frank Buxton Trophy for best placed parent and child crew went to Anita Scott Murphy and Ben Cruse), the Veterans Trophy to (skipper over 45) to Simon and Sidona Barwood), the Norm Deane Masters Trophy to Ken Barnes and Alex Kingsley, the Junior (under 16 crew) Trophy for the West Australians Ethan Prieto-Low and James Stout) and the Youth Trophy to Max Davey and Joseph Thomson.

Coming into the last wing mark on the last race of the regatta: Kamikaze leads Bob by 2 boat-lengths - first boat to the finish takes the title
Rob Cruse

Rounding the last wing mark - Kamikaze, Bob and Bullet Proof
Rob Cruse

On the final reach at Australian Mirror champions
Rob Cruse

Kamikaze crossing the line to win the title
Rob Cruse

Jessie and Kath celebrate their National title.
Rob Cruse