Teenage sailors competing in the 2012 Gill Flying 11 National Championships at Salamander Bay, Port Stephens NSW were anxiously awaiting breeze this morning ahead of the critical final heat of the six-heat qualifying series.
But for two dominant boats, Belmont’s (NSW) Hammertime and Manly’s (NSW) Whatever, there were no qualifying concerns in the split-fleet format as they each sat on nine points, 10 ahead of their nearest rival Oscar, from Gosford NSW).
A total of 87 Flying 11s are competing with sailors so far enjoying heaven-sent fresh nor-easterlies, touching on 20 knots on day one and averaging 15-17 knots.
Regatta chairman Mark Long said a potential east coast low was expected to produce sufficient south-easterly breeze to hold the final qualifying heats and first race of the finals today.
'The kids have been very impressed with their ability to get up speed on long reaches in `the little skiff’, as we like to call it,’ Long said.
'The two favourites - Jack Buchan and Emma Jones in Hammer Time and Angus Williams and Jesse Lilley in Whatever – are showing what was expected but another four at least could come strongly into contention after the drop comes into play today.’’
Hammertime has won four out of its five qualifying heats, while Whatever has had two firsts, two seconds and a third. The invitation race honours went to currently third placed Kurt Hansen and Lindsay Pike in Oscar and Lane Cove’s (NSW) Greta Quealy and Thomas Smith in Decoy.
Long said the sailors and parents loved the `laid back’ location and closeness of the action for spectators and emphasised that the new race format designed for fairer racing for all was working well.
Others regularly at the pointy end of the fleet are Manly’s Andrew Iles and Daniel Bromelow (currently fourth), Avalon’s Nicola Forbes-Smith and Natasha Bryant in Bolt (fifth), Manly’s Kajsa Doyle and Nathan Killey in Pure Blonde (sixth), Manly’s Ashley and Daniel Heyworth in MWD (seventh), Manly’s Madeleine Clancy and Simon Boardman in Fired Up (eighth), Belmont’s Owen Long and Sarah Jones in Slick (ninth) and Avalon’s Sarah and Harry Parker in Waverunner.
With several due to drop big scores others are likely to shoot up the rankings after today.