by Sue Neales
The battle for supremacy in the 49th Sabot National titles being held this week off Brighton on Port Phillip Bay appears to have come down to a fierce two-way duel between Victorian teenager Daniel Quinlan and young NSW sailor Finn Gilbert.
Sabot nationals: Tight racing at the top mark of race 5 wednesday - Sabot Nationals
Sailing amidst brilliant sunshine, white caps and strong southerly winds of 15 to 18 knots in the first race this afternoon (Wednesday), overall series leader Daniel Quinlan sailing 'Tiger Bite' was well clear of his nearest rivals for the entire race.
Tiger Bite crossed the finish line at least 200 metres ahead of second place getter Sam King from Tasmania in 'Red Herring', with Finn Gilbert from southern NSW in 'Predator' third.
But as winds dropped steadily through the second race to a more gentle 12 knots, early race leader Quinlan was overtaken by the lighter Finn Gilbert in 'Predator' on the final upwind leg.
Gilbert went on to win the second race, with fellow teammate Sang Jin Goodridge in 'Little Demon Too' close behind and Quinlan pushed into third place.
Sabots; Rhiannan Brown and and Mark Murray from NSW in "Rippa", racing in the novice section of Sabot Week - Sabot Nationals
The second race result left Finn Gilbert in Predator with four wins, a third and a 20th placing from six starts.
But consistent top performer and Victorian team captain, the 15-year-old Daniel Quinlan in Tiger Bite, remained in the overall race lead at that point from Gilbert with two wins, three thirds and a fifth placing.
Organisers then decided to hold a third race this afternoon, completing race 7 of the 10-race series early in anticipation of unpleasantly gusty and strong northerlies blowing up on a forecast scorching Friday of 39 degrees in Melbourne, the scheduled last day of racing in the 49th Sabot Nationals.
Winds stayed brisk for the third race, which saw a terrific win for Tasmanian tam captain Sam King of Tasmania sailing 'Red Herring.'
He remains well placed in the top three or four positions on the senior fleet’s overnight leader-board, having added a first and second to his tally today.
The other quiet achiever of the series is Victorian Josh Galland, is his appropriately-named boat Whisper, who also performed extremely well on the first day of racing in similar strong winds.
Second and third placegetters in the vital third race of the late afternoon, race 7 of the Nationals' series, were respectively leading titles contender Finn Gilbert of NSW in 'Predator,' and Josh Galland racing 'Whisper'. Daniel Quinlan was fourth.
After the seven races, Victorian Daniel Quinlan now has two firsts, three thirds, a fourth and fifth alongside his name. Gilbert has four firsts, a second, a third and a 20 th, a result he is likely to discard as the series is completed and each competitor’s two worst scores are dropped from final results.
sabot nationals: having fun in the double handed Sabot Nationals racing, NSW brother and sister pair William and Madeline Power in Snapper - Sabot Nationals
In the afternoon’s tight racing for the double-handed (two-up) Nationals title, it was southern NSW young sailors, Tom Larkings and Eve Peel in 'Tommygun' who won both races.
Swordfish from Queensland, helmed by Brisbane’s Carlton Smith and with Will Bridge as his crew, came second in the first race, while Tasmanian pair Ruby and Max Edmunds in Starter Kit came second in race 6 of the series.
In the novice or beginner Sabot Week racing held earlier in the day, the Edmunds younger brother bailey Edmunds, was also a placegetter, coming second and third in both his races.
Sabot nationals: leading contender Victorian Daniel Quinlan in Tiger Bite - Sabot Nationals
But it was the Bowden sisters from Queensland who dominated Sabot week racing yesterday, with Maggie Bowden in 'Airwave' winning both her races, and her sister Christina coming second in the first race won be her elder sister.
Two more races in both Sabot week and Nationals title racing are scheduled to be held tomorrow, Thursday off Brighton.
But organisers may try to fit in three races in the afternoon, completing the 10-race senior Nationals' series a day early ahead of Friday’s predicted heatwave.