by Harry Fisher
The 66-strong fleet of Lightweight Sharpies took to the water on Saturday the 29th of December at Brighton and Seacliff in windy conditions for the first championship race of the National regatta. A strong southwesterly sea breeze was predicted to come in around the start of the race and the Bureau of Meteorology's trusty forecast came through with the third 20+ knot afternoon breeze in as many days.
Sharpies doing their finals preparations for Race 1 - 70th Australian Sharpie Nationals
The race provided plenty of thrills with some tight reaches and fast paced spinnaker legs and it was once again fiercely contested at the top end of the fleet with many sailors thriving in the strong conditions.
Five-time national champion Mal Higgins in 'Focus' with Sam Sanderson and Andrew Chisholm were once again at their brilliant best taking the opening heat win by only a few boat lengths.
Just behind 'Focus' was Dave Higgins in 'All Scoobed Out' with Rob Turton and Mark Kretschmer who claimed second place after sailing a strong, consistent race.
Not far behind the two leaders and finishing in third was Geoff McCloud in 'Warpig' with Sam Flint and Mark Beaumont. Geoff sailed a great race however an altercation that resulted in a penalty late in the race ensured that he would not be in contention for a top two finish.
The strong conditions still managed to claim a few victims with the second snapped mast for the regatta and also a few other breakages that forced a couple more boats to retire.
Similar but slightly lighter conditions are expected for Race 2 on Sunday the 30th and we're looking forward to what the rest of the regatta holds with some great competition on show in all parts of the fleet.
"Watch Out For The Scooby" doing their final preparations - 70th Australian Sharpie Nationals
The conditions from the beach at Brighton & Seacliff Yacht Club - 70th Australian Sharpie Nationals
Sharpie Nationals website