by Sue Neales
The Australian Sabot Championship 2013 saw its final day abandoned as 30-knot winds proves to be a big risk for sailors to take on Friday. With the cancellation of the final race, Sydney Drummoyne Yacht Club’s Finn Gilbert has been declared as this year's national champion.
Sabot nationals: 150 kids having fun in the sun at brighton this week - 49th Sabot Nationals
Fierce gusty hot north winds of more than 30 knots saw the final day of racing abandoned in the 49th Sabot nationals being held at Royal Brighton Yacht Club on Port Phillip Bay.
The postponement, then cancellation, of the final race 10 saw Finn Gilbert in 'predator’ from Sydney’s Drummoyne Yacht Club confirmed as the best young sabot sailor in Australia from a 65-boat senior fleet.
The three top places in the senior solo national fleet for the six day 2012-13 championships had already been decided after the ninth race last night; with any race held today unable to change the outcome of the National Title.
But for the young two-up sailors – Sabots raced with both a skipper and a crew - it was a different story, with the final trophy result hanging on the final (10th race) due to be held this afternoon.
Four double-handed boats – two being skippered by nine and 10 year olds – were still in the running to take out the Sabot National two-up title after the week’s earlier nine races.
But the cancellation of the final tenth race this afternoon saw young Brisbane sailors, Carlton Smith and Will Bridge, both aged just 10, racing in 'Swordfish' crowned as the best Sabot two-up team in Australia.
Mark Hosking, organiser of the 49th Sabot nationals’ races from Royal Brighton Yacht Club, said it was a wise and sensible decision to abandon racing given the extreme conditions and the unpredictability of the Melbourne northerlies.
'With wind gusts at the Fawkner Beacon recording 35 knots at one stage today, and still up over 30 knots at 2.30pm, we had no choice but to cancel the 10th race,' Mr Hosking said.
Sabot nationals two-up team winner, Carlton Smith and Will Bridge in Swordfish - 49th Sabot Nationals
'The kids will be disappointed and it is tough on some of the two-up boats with so much depending on today’s race, but it wouldn’t have been safe to send them out in this extreme weather.'
The official presentation of trophies, including the all-important team trophy for the best performing squad in all race categories from the six state teams competing this week at Brighton, will be held tonight at Royal Brighton Yacht Club.
The trophies will be presented to the kids tonight by Mark Turnbull, Sydney Olympic 2000 gold medal winner in yachting and the official patron of this year’s 49th Sabot Nationals.
Mr Turnbull, who raced Sabots as a junior for six years in both northern Tasmania and from Royal Brighton Yacht Club in Victoria and was a former Sabot national champion, , inspired the 150 young competitors on the event’s opening night last week.
He told them 80 per cent of what he now knows as a champion adult yachtsman, he had learned when just a young boy in Sabots learning the fundamentals of sailing, boat trim and racing attitude.
This year’s overall sabot title winner, NSW Finn Gilbert, won five of the nine races held this week off Brighton outright in a mixture of strong, rough and light conditions.
Gilbert, aged 14, was fourth in the previous year’s national Sabot title event 2011-12 held at Southport yacht club, to older boys who have since moved on from Sabots to other yacht classes.
Second best Sabot sailor of the 2012-13 Sabot nationals at Brighton was Victorian team captain, Daniel Quinlan, 15, racing in Tiger Bite. He won two races and performed remarkably consistently in all the rest, with three thirds and two fourths amongst his other placings.
Third-place getter for the national senior Sabot title was Tasmanian young gun, Sam King, 12, in Red Herring who raced through the ranks after winning two races and coming second in another race on the final two days of sailing.
In the two-up championship division - for sailors younger than 11 - Carlton Smith and Will Bridge in Swordfish narrowly defeated Tommy Larkings and Eve Peel from southern NSW racing 'Tommygun.'
Tommygun won four of the nine races held, but did not finish the first two races of the week after having trouble in the early rough seas and strong winds.
Third in the National two-up division was north Queensland pair, Daniel Moran and Maya Turnball from Mackay, racing 'Not Another Menace.'
Sabot Nationals senior championship winner, Finn Gilbert - 49th Sabot Nationals
In the teams event, the strong racing team from South Queensland won both the senior event trophy (single-handed racing) , and the junior (two-up) award.