With the forecast of lighter breezes on day 3 of the Fantasea 2011 F18 Australian Championships, being sailed as part of Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week 2011, RO Stewart ‘Jock’ Ross started the fleet at 10.00am, aiming to complete four races during the day.
In contrast to yesterday the sun was shining brightly with light puffy clouds floating in the sky. More importantly the breeze had abated and was blowing at 12-13 knots meaning the sea was less choppy and sharp, providing perfect sailing conditions for the 21 F18s headed to the start line in Cleveland Bay.
It was a clear start in Race 5 of the championship and at the top mark for the first time Dale Mitchell (Ullman Sails) led the fleet. Luke McMullen (Overdrive) was second, then came Michael Guinea (Nacra NQ), championship leader Jason Waterhouse (Team Wildcat Australasia) and Gordon Beath (Edge2Edge).
Katie Spithill (Team Harken) was next, the lightweight team obviously enjoying the softer conditions. The rest of the fleet followed shortly thereafter.
The breeze was 14 knots as the fleet headed to the bottom mark for the first time.
As the fleet sailed to the top mark for the second time, Jason Waterhouse opened up a commanding lead and rounded 100 metres ahead of Luke McMullen. Adam Beattie (Nacra No 1) improved places and moved up into third, completing a gybe set at the hitch mark.
Spithill was clearly enjoying the conditions and moved up into fourth, hot on the hammer of Beattie.
The wind dropped slightly, back to around 10 knots.
By now the fleet had split into two distinct and tightly bunched groups. The first 12 boats cleared the mark then there was daylight to the next group, some four minutes further back.
Jason Waterhouse (Team Wildcat Australasia) did not surrender his lead and finished ahead of Luke McMullen (Overdrive) and Adam Beattie (Nacra No 1).
The breeze dropped further so for Race 6 of the Series the Race Committee shortened the course back to one nautical mile leg lengths.
Adam Beattie (Nacra No 1) took the gun from Jason Waterhouse (Team Wildcat Australasia). Michael Guinea (Nacra NQ) was third.
By the start of Race 7 the breeze had increased to around 12 knots, so the Race Committee set the leg length at 1.2 nautical miles. The sun was shining brightly but with the increased wind came increased sea chop.
Race 7 went to Jason Waterhouse (Team Wildcat Australasia) from Dale Mitchell (Ullman Sails) and Michael Guinea (Nacra NQ).
At the start of the last race for the day, Race 8 of the Series, the wind had picked up and was blowing around 16-17 knots.
Jason Waterhouse sat mid line, jostling for position. The red sail of Katie Spithill was third boat from the pin while Dale Mitchell was on the pin and had good speed.
At the gun however it was Michael Guinea who had best speed off the line, with Jason Waterhouse following close behind. Then came Dale Mitchell and Ian Simpson (Cruel & Heartless).
At the top mark for the first time, Dale Mitchell had moved up to lead the fleet. Jason Waterhouse rounded second, with Michael Guinea now third. Rob Lattimore (Gash) made his move up into fourth, Luke McMullen was fifth with James Ogilvie (Durepox Paints) sixth.
Katie Spithill was coming up fast, overtaking boats on the run.
At the top mark for the second time, Jason Waterhouse took the lead after coming in on port and crossing ahead of Dale Mitchell. Waterhouse reached the starboard lay line 100 metres from the pin.
Mitchell was around in second ahead of Michael Guinea, Warren Guinea (Team Magic Marine), Luke McMullen and Rob Lattimore. Katie Spithill was seventh followed by Gordon Beath and Leigh McNally (Sneak ‘N’ Round).
Jason Waterhouse was never headed and went on to cross the line first, ahead of Dale Mitchell and Michael Guinea.
Waterhouse and crew Josh McNight continue to dominate the Fantasea 2011 F18 Australian Championships and lead second placed Townsville sailor Michael Guinea (Nacra NQ) by eleven points. Third on the Series leaderboard is Dale Mitchell (Ullman Sails) from the Whitsunday Sailing Club.
Jason commented from the boat park ‘The previous two days have been some of the toughest conditions we have sailed F18s in. The last three regattas where we have sailed the Hobie Wildcat have all be in flat water.
‘But we do have plenty of time in the boat and it seems we have adapted better than anyone else. We’ve been hanging in there upwind and been pushing really hard downwind and this has been delivering us good results.’
Second placed Michael Guinea said 'It was joggly for the first two races, breeze began building again and it swung back left. The conditions this afternoon were prefect.
'We are sailing steadily but both Jason and Adam (Beattie) are a step in front of the rest of us.'
After good results yesterday Adam Beattie (Nacra No 1) now sits sixth on the leaderboard. He explained 'We had a rudder issue in race 7 and did not make the race 8 start. Hopefully there will be four more races tomorrow. However its seems Jason is on fire.'
Katie Spithill (Team Harken) enjoyed the early racing today. ‘The F18’s are very different to anything else I sail. Much faster and lots of fun.
‘However for the last two days it’s been more about survival. Today it was more about tactics and strategy and definitely more enjoyable.
‘For us the first two races today were best, but then the seabreeze came in and we were back in de-power mode.'
The final day of the Fantasea 2011 F18 Australian Championships is scheduled to commence at 10.00am tomorrow, Tuesday 6th September, with RO Ross again aiming to complete four more races.
Full results are available at Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week 2011 website http://www.magneticislandraceweek.com.au/index.cfm?eid=1859