by Harry Fisher
The moderate conditions continued going in to Race 4 of the Sharpie Nationals after a New Year's Day lay day and the competition became tighter with many competitors who were previously outside the top group gaining excellent finishes.
Jason Heritage in "Bread Run" with James Davis and James Hughes - 70th Australian Sharpie Nationals
The second of January was scheduled for two Races and it was expected to be a moderate and unexciting day, however a late sea breeze arrived during Race 2 providing some much needed excitement.
With the 'P' flag struggling to keep competitors behind the start line and general recalls continuing to open proceedings, the black flag again made an appearance on the second start of both races for the day. This allowed Principal Race Officer Tony Gold to get the races off as quick as possible.
The first race had moderate conditions and racing was once again fiercely contested at the top of the fleet, with some great unexpected performances from sailors who were not expected to finish in the top group.
The race was won by Chris Went sailing 'AREA Construction' with Tom Manhood and Karl Olsen.
Went, who has had an excellent last three races sailed the afternoon of his sharpie career, winning Race 3 in brilliant fashion managing to fight off some tough competition and take his first national bullet.
In second place was Brighton and Seacliff local Peter Kirk in 'Under The Radar' with Peter Duffield and Jamie Richardson. Kirk also had his best race of the regatta and is continuing to keep the pressure on the favourites.
Third place went to West Australian Peter Nicholas in 'The Lizzard' with Sam Gilmour and Luke Payne. These young and promising sailors have really taken it to the older and more experienced Sharpie sailors over the last couple days and have slingshotted themselves in to third place overall after the days sailing.
In Race 2, the breeze slightly increased as the race went on and it was yet another black flag start that got us away.
A tough and hard-fought tacking duel between Sharpie and 505 veteran Robbie Deussen and breakthrough Sharpie skipper Chris Went took place up the final upwind leg, providing excellent spectating for those ashore.
Deussen in 'Rage Factor' with Tim Ross and Andy Dyer fought off Went, taking the Race win by the slightest of margins. Went in 'AREA Construction' continued his great form over the last few days with second place.
Mal Higgins in 'Focus' with Sam Sanderson and Andrew Chisholm finished in an impressive third place in Race 5 after winning the first three heats of the regatta. After five Races he is discarding a seventh and is still comfortably sitting in first place overall.
It should be interesting to see what Races 6 and 7 hold, and to see if anyone can get a jump on Higgins and contest him for the championship honours.
Sharpie Nationals website