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SB3 Australian National Championship - Duel to the finish

by Peter Campbell on 20 Feb 2012
SB3 TAS Fleet - SB3 Australian National Championship 2012 Rob Cruse
SB3 Australian National Championship, hosted by Royal Yacht Club of Tasmani, final day of racing was held on the River Derwent today.

In 1977, as a teenager, Glenn Bourke won the junior Moth dinghy Australian championship on Hobart’s River Derwent. Today he scored another championship victory on a windswept river in the SB3 high-performance keelboat class.

Steering Club Marine Hamilton Island, Bourke fought back in the ninth and final race to win the title by just one point from another Queensland entrant, Dulon Polish, helmed by Phillip Gray.

Tasmanian Nick Rogers, the champion sailor in the International Dragon class, sailed a superb final race, steering Toll Shipping to victory and also coming from behind in the pointscore to take third place overall.

There has been a lot of water under the keel (or centreboard) since Bourke won that junior Moth championship 35 years ago. He won three world titles in the International Laser class and represented Australia at the Olympics in the Finn class.

Moving into yacht management he headed the team that organised and ran the highly successful sailing regatta at the Sydney Olympic Games before heading overseas to run the Volvo Race. He is now CEO of Hamilton Island, the Queensland resort that hosts Australia’s biggest keelboat regatta.

After two days of scheduled competition – Saturday: no wind, no racing; Sunday: light wind, three races – Hobart yesterday turn on fresh to strong winds on the Derwent.

'A magnificent sailing day' was how principal race officer Nick Hutton described it after successfully conducting six windward/leeward races yesterday for the 21 boat fleet.

On a day of spectacular and, at times, dramatic one-design sailing, three of the leading boats ended up with maximum points which in two cases were their discard races, in the third case certainly costing the boat any chance of a top final placing.

After winning three of the six races today, the Victorian boat Flirtatious (Chris Dare) was disqualified after being ‘black flaggged’ in race eight, Tasmanian Nick Rogers in Toll Shipping was forced to retire with damage in the same race, while Dulon Polish, skippered by Queenslander Phillip Gray, had to pull out of race five with a broken boom soon after the start.

As the rest of the fleet sailed on, Gray sailed back to the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, fitted a spare boom and was back on the course for race six, which he won, to retain his overall lead.

Going into the final race, Gray held a one point lead from Bourke which meant that Bourke had finish two places ahead to win the title. 'He (Gray) was right with us on the final beat to windward, but another boat got ahead of him and held him back to fifth place downwind while we finished third in the race, ' Bourke said after the race.

After two days of light and fickle wind, sometimes none, over the weekend, a southerly blast swept up the Derwent this morning, well ahead of the scheduled start time for the final day of racing of 10am.

Principal race officer Nick Hutton was aiming for at least four more races to give a total of seven, which would mean one a discard. This would equate the DNF points for 15 of the 21 starters in race one as these boats could use race one as their discard.

Despite the light winds, three races were sailed on Sunday and today, race four got underway in a 10-12 knot south-westerly breeze, the best sailing conditions so far for these high-performance, one-design sports boats.

Chris Dare, a prominent Victorian Etchells and ocean racing skipper (he raced the Corby 49 Flirt, now Vamp) Sandringham Yacht Club, rocketed away with Flirtatious to win heat four by 18 seconds from Club Marine Hamilton Island, helmed by Glenn Bourke.

Series leader after day one of racing, Queenslander Phillip Gray, sailing Dulon Polish, finished 24 seconds astern, in third place.

With the sou’-wester freshening to 18 knots and kicking up a short, steep seaway against the ebbing tide, Dare and crew excelled in the conditions, sailing Flirtatious to a 26 second win in heat five from the consistent Glenn Bourke, helming Club Marine Hamilton Island.

Purple Trilogy, skippered by Callum Burns, also from Sandringham Yacht Club, finished third, 22 seconds astern of Club Marine Hamilton Island.

Dulon Polish broke its boom soon after the start with Gray and his crew immediately heading back to the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania as the fleet continued to race. They replaced broken boom with a spare and returned to the race track in time for heat six.

Gray bounced back in heat six, with the southerly breeze a constant 20 knots strength. The Queenslander sailed Dulon Polish to its second win of the series, winning a hard-fought duel with Flirtatious, and Tasmanians Nick Rogers, steering Toll Shipping, and David Graney, at the helm of Wedgewood.

Only one minute separated the first six boats in a spectacular downwind finish under spinnakers, the light displacement keelboats surfing across the line in a thrilling gybing duel.

When race seven got under way the southerly breeze was averaging 20 knots, testing the sail handling expertise of the crews in the strong breeze and choppy waves.

Flirtatious scored its third win of the regatta, with a 19 second margin from Club Marine Hamilton Island, third place going to Dart Vader (Mark Prince), Dulan Polish finished fourth to retain its overall lead.

Pre-championship favourite Glenn Bourke finally sailed Club Marine Hamilton Island to victory in race eight. Bourke cleared away from the fleet to win by 1 minute and 10 seconds from Still Out of Control, with Dulon Polish stilling shining with a third.

Flirtatious ended its love affair with the Derwent after being black-flagged, a disastrous result following its first race DNF. Four boats did not finish race eight, including top placed Tasmanian Toll Shipping.

After eight races, with one discard, Dulon Polish still headed the leader board, on 20 points, just one point from Club Marine Hamilton Island on 21 points. Each had a drop of 22 points, Dulon Polish’s for its OCS in race five, Club Hamilton Island for its DNF in race one.

Next, on 40 points, was Sysiwyg-V, the consistent Victorian boat, on 40 points, with two points to Flirtatious. Tasmania’s Toll Shipping was fifth overall on 45 points.

Race officials had time and the breeze, to start a ninth race. It was to be a duel to the finish between Club Marine Hamilton Island and Dulon Polish to decide the SB3 Australian champion for 2012.

The two Queensland boats were close together for most of the race, Bourke striving to get at least one boat between Club Marine Hamilton Island and Dulon Polish, Gray battling to hold that one point lead.

Bourke sailed well to windward, but it was Tasmanian Nick Rogers who took the front running, excelling in the hard downwind running in the 20 knot breeze still holding on the river. On the last beat to windward, Victorian boat Still Out of Control, helmed by Mark Wolfenden from Sandringham Yacht Club, got ahead of Colon Polish and held that position on the spinnaker run to the finish.

As they crossed the finish line, Toll Shipping won from Purple Trilogy (Callum Burns) from Sandringham Yacht Club with Club Marine Hamilton Island just 10 seconds away in third place.

Still Out of Control placed fourth, just 22 seconds in front of Colon Polish, costing them the championship title.

After the racing, Bourke said that with six races sailed he and his crew were mentally and physically drained. 'This has been our toughest and closest SB3 regatta ever,' he said.

Talking about the SB3 worlds to be held at Hamilton Island in December, Bourke said the Hobart series had been 'a really good test of the boat in all weather.'

'We were able to get into top gear up the wind in all conditions, from light breezes for the first three races to six races sailed in heavy breezes,' Bourke added.

Top six placings:
1. Club Marine Hamilton Island (Glen Bourke, Hamilton Island Yacht Club) DNF-3-3-2--28-2-1-3, 24 points.
2. Dulon Polish (Phillip Gray, ISB3 Fleet) 4-4-1-3-DNF-1-4-3-5, 25 points
3. Toll Shipping (Nick Rogers, Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania) 1-13-6-10-4-3-8-DNF-1, 46 points
4. Wysiwyg-V (Stephen Fries, Sandringham Yacht Club, Vic) 3-2-4-11-6-13-9-5-7, 47 points
5. Still Out of Control (Mark Wolfenden, Sandringham YC) DNF-9-2-9-5-16-7-2-4, 54 points
6. Sun Tzu (Roger Hickman, Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron) 5-1-9-15-10-7-6-8-9, 55 points.

Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania website

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