SB20 National Championship - Close racing on a very challenging day

There was nothing between Karabos and Back of the Bus Boys in Race four - SB20 Australian Championship 2014
The survivors of today’s SB20 Australian Championship two race battle were those crews that could constantly change gears in the challenging conditions.

The pointscore leaders from the previous day’s racing did not disappoint as they handled the conditions with comfort. They finished the day with Chris Dare’s Flirtatious in first overall on eight points and Russell Rooney’s Back of the Bus Boys in second on 10 points after five races.

In third and fourth place respectively and with only point separating them were Glenn Bourke’s Red and Nick Rogers’s Karabos.

The day started with nothing as the fleet were held back on shore for an hour. The decision was then made to get them out to the course area where they sat, floating quietly, waiting for the slight sign of a breeze worthy of a race start.

Finally by just before 1.20pm the breeze had filled to 12 gusting 14 knots, the rain arrived and the toey 12-boat fleet were off to clean start on a short .5nm course.

It was a quick ride to the top mark with the fleet bunched up and reportedly Mike McLean’s WAGOP in the lead. It didn’t take long for Back of the Bus Boys and Karabos, rounding the right-hand mark, and Red and Flirtatious rounding the left-hand mark, to noisily take over the top positions.

As the breeze shifted and softened the top places across the line belonged to Flirtatious by a boat length to Back of the Bus Boys who graciously acknowledged Dare’s team with a ‘well done boys’ after the gun. Third went to Karabos with a disappointed Red team finishing in fourth.

PRO Warren Myles was quick to turn the fleet around and back on the start line as the breeze softened to eight knots at 300 degrees. The start was clean as Flirtatious and Red took the pin end while Karabos and Back of the Bus Boys were in the middle.

Whales were sighted off the stern of the start boat, but luckily they were just far enough out to sea not to worry the race fleet.

Slowly the breeze decreased forcing a shortening of the course length from .8nm to .6nm as the boats sat up more and the clouds closed in.

Pointscore leader after five races, Flirtatious crew Chris Dare, Oliver Tweddell and Kieran Searle - SB20 Australian Championship 2014

By the finish of Race two Flirtatious come in from the right to slip across for their second first place of the day, leaving Back of the Bus Boys and Red to battle for second place. Stephen Fries’s WYSIWYG Tasmanian team slipped beautifully into third place while Red ended the race with another disappointing fourth.

Dare said WYSIWYG kept them honest in Race 2. 'Steve Fries had a good race. We only passed him at the top mark second time round,' Dare said.

By 3pm the breeze was showing serious signs of packing up and going home, so the race committee made the decision to abandon Race three and send everyone back to the dock.

Back of the Bus Boys helmsman Brent Frankcombe was quite relaxed at the end of the long day even though he had Karabos and Red never far from him. 'We just tried to sail our own race. We don’t really worry about who is around. We just focus on ourselves which is the biggest hurdle for us. Once we get through that, we are all good,' Frankcombe said.

Dare is very aware of both the talent on board the Back of the Bus Boys boat and the boat’s speed. 'There are four boats that are out front. Now, after five races, you are starting to manage the fleet a bit. We are more interested in what Back of the Bus Boys are doing and what Glenn was doing.

'The boys on Back of the Bus kind of killed us in the States in the light so we had to change something. So, we did a little bit of homework since then and on our rig stuff and now it’s paying off,' Dare said.

Class national President and owner of Red, Robert Jeffreys, said he has been pleased with the quality of competition in the small fleet. 'The racing has been very close. The guys up the front, the four of them, have been giving each other a run for their money.

'When the breeze came in and the luck was taken out of the equation, the fleet closed up quite a bit. Everyone is sailing well, it’s just a bit of a pity the breeze hasn’t been more cooperative,' Jeffreys said.

Dare is predicting there will be more breeze tomorrow. So are others in the fleet. They are all looking forward to changing gears and testing their crew work in 15 knots or more for some fast running conditions.

Sadly, the forecast looks like the fleet will have to keep their light wind set-up in place as the south-west eight to 10 knots wind stays for another day. At least the sun is forecast to reappear.

The final race day is tomorrow with racing to start from about 10.45am.

SB20 National Titles 2014 Complete Results:
PlaceTiesSail NoBoat NameSkipperFromBow NoSers ScoreRace 5Race 4Race 3Race 2Race 1
1 3658FLIRTATIOUSChris DareSYC/SSCBC398.01.01.02.03.01.0
2 3382BACK OF THE BUS BOYSBrent FrankcombeSYC3510.02.02.01.02.03.0
3 3030REDGlenn BourkeSYC4317.04.04.03.04.02.0
4 3036KARABOSNick RogersRYCT&DSS4218.06.03.04.01.04.0
5 3383HYPERTRONICSStephen CatchpoolDSS4130.05.05.07.08.05.0
6 3389WYSIWYG VIIIStephen FriesRTYC4631.03.010.05.07.06.0
7 3356BLACK RATTroy ForrestMYC3638.07.07.09.05.010.0
8 3108BLUE TACTrevor MartinMYC3740.08.011.06.06.09.0
9 3618WAGOPMike McLeanNQCYC4543.010.09.08.09.07.0
10 3355TYPHOONGary BradshawMBYC4447.011.08.010.010.08.0
11 3610DART VADERLachlan McLeanNYC3850.09.06.011.012.012.0
12 3364GIDDYUPPaul LaurenceSYC4058.012.012.012.011.011.0
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