Day one of the Zhik Moth Australian Championship had a record-breaking 108 foiling Moths on the start line. Scary thought? '100 boats? It wasn’t too bad - just those port-tackers! The stunt-drivers!' said local Aussie Warren Sare.
The fight to foil was the name of the game. Getting to that first puff and flying up and out of the pack meant everything – and with a pin favoured start line, the fleet was chock-full of kamikaze port-tackers risking all to foil first. Prominent amongst the high risk strategists was Scott Babbage who was slicing through the fleet like a kamikaze pilot.
'Once you’re [at the pin], you’re committed to doing something crazy,' admitted Sydney sailor Phil Kurts, adding with a smile, 'If you’re going fast enough, a gap will appear.'
Local hot shot Joe Turner took race 1, he was fourth at the first windward mark, made impressive gains and by lap two lead into the finish. Iain Jensen, the dual 49er World Champion crew, scorched across the finish line second, a whole six places in front of his 49er skipper Nathan Outteridge who suffered a bad start and worked back to eighth place. He was smiling in post race raft up, explaining to 'Goobs', that his younger sister Hayley had crossed him early in the race. Rob Gough, Scott Babbage and ISAF Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby rounded out the top five.
After two general recalls, the sailors finally got out the gate for race 2, with Nathan Outteridge pulling a kamikaze manoeuvre. He nailed a port start, terrifying more than a few starboard tackers with a few close ducks, and launched into clear air. Outteridge cleaned up, and was minutes ahead of second placed Scott Babbage.
Outteridge smiled after the race. 'If its light, there are big big gains if you are foiling through the startboard tack low riders. If everyone is up and the closing speed is 40 knots, I don’t want to think about it.'
Race 3 started in a puff that cut out when the top guys hit the first mark – further separating those that foiled and those that did not. Heavy weight Laser sailor Tom Slingsby has been celebrating over Christmas and he’s now 84kg, tough for light weather foiling. He led the first beat but the lighter and faster Outteridge and Babbage quickly overtook him on the run. Outteridge took the win after Babbage went for a quick swim putting him back to second.
The mixed fleet of international sailors suffered more than a few general recalls and black flags dragging out the three races to a staggering 6.5 hours. Lake Macquarie’s light and shifty South Easterly clocking North challenged the visitors, favoured the locals (top four in race 1 were all Lake Macquarie boys), and was universally frustrating.
Forecast for tomorrow promises 10-15 knots and sailors hope to have a full day on the foils.
Day One Results: 1st Scott Babbage 4,2,2 8 2nd Nathan Outteridge 8, 1,1 10 3rd Rob Gough 3,3,5 11