by Sue Neales
The Sabot National Championships opened in a swashbuckling fashion with the Invitational Race providing all-out action and nail-biting moments down the stretch.
Start line Invitation race sabot nationals
The 49th Sabot Nationals championships are off to a flying start after the Invitation Race this afternoon in Port Phillip Bay saw 101 sabot dinghies and their young skippers cross the same start line together at 2 pm in a thrilling battle.
With 66 solo sailors from six states competing in the racing fleet division competing against even younger sailors, two-up boats and Sabot Week 'friendly' sailors for the only time this week, it was a spectacular start off Royal Brighton Yacht Club in Melbourne today.
Sabots are a high-perfomance dinghy racing class, just 12 foot long with a single sail, used by yacht clubs around Australia as a training boat for 7 to 14 year-olds.
The winner of today’s Invitation race was 13-year-old Hunter Vercoe, racing for the South Queensland team in 'Duck Hunter.'
Second place went to Victoria’s Josh Galland, racing in 'Whisper', followed closely by Chris Dixson in 'Sonic the Hedgehog' from the southern NSW team.
In the two-up racing division, the winner was 'Tommygun', skippered by Thomas Larkings and crewed by Eve peel from southern NSW.
Second placegetter was 'Swordfish' from the southern Queensland team, skippered by Carlton Smith and crewed by Will Bridge.
Third placegetter in the Invitation Race Two-up division was 'Back in Action', skippered by Tahlia Phillips and crewed by Estelle Chown from southern NSW.
Championship racing begins in earnest tomorrow, Sunday, with Sabot Week races held in the morning, and the start of the 10-race senior Sabot Nationals competition in the afternoon.
Racing will continue until Friday January 4, with trophies awarded for the best individual performances and the top state team.
Competitors aged from 7-15 years old have travelled from as far afield as Townsville, Hobart and Brisbane to compete in the annual event, the pinnacle of the Sabot class dinghy racing calendar.
Spectators are welcome to come to Royal Brighton Yacht Club any day over the next week to watch the thrilling junior racing in action from the comfort of the Club’s upper deck, which is throw open to all visitors to enjoy this week.