During the final round of the NSW Flying 11 Championships at Cronulla, manoeuvring past the odd hammerhead shark was all in a day's work for Belmont pair Jack Buchan and Emma Jones, as they sailed their aptly named boat HammerTime to victory.
Jack, 16, and Emma, 11, no doubt because they were at the pointy end of the fleet, were among a few in the 92-boat competition who actually saw a few cruising fins around, but it didn't put them off their stride. Officials, who said the sharks were of the smaller variety, were well aware of the wildlife situation at the top mark on Saturday and monitoring the situation. Support boat radio messages talked in code about efforts to encourage the `sierra' or 'seaweed' to move on, which in due course they did.
With four wins in the bank from the first round at Gosford, the teenagers on HammerTime were in no mood to slow down at Cronulla, especially as their two nearest rivals had both beaten them and relegated them to third spot at the nationals a few weeks earlier.
`I almost ran over a couple of sharks,' said Jack afterwards. `I was pretty comfortable about that but I tried to calm my crew down who was probably more excited than anything else about it.'
In the end a first, second, third and fifth in the second round which wound up on Sunday were enough to nail the state title for HammerTime from keen rivals Ashley and Daniel Heyworth from Manly in MWD and national champions Kurt Hansen and Lindsay Pike in Oscar from Gosford, both of whom won races in the final round.
As at the nationals Oscar won the under-15s title, while fifth placed Nicola Forbes-Smith and Natasha Bryant, from Avalon, were again the best all-girls pair in Bolt.
Avalon's Nathan Judges and Jack Cuthbert were fourth, while Manly's James Lawira-Fernandez and Tom Walmsley were sixth, both boats winning a race in the course of the championships.
Handicap honours went to Manly's Caitlin Walmsley and Jessica Lawson in Knott Now from clubmates Ned Sykes and Charles Rickwood in Bambino and Gosford's Michael Anderson and Yanni Papadopoulos in Nomad who finished 17th overall and won a race on their home turf earlier on.
For the overall winners sailing in Cronulla Sharks heartland just added to the excitement of the win. `It's pretty spectacular, said Jack. `Gosford was definitely a good way to start a regatta, it was strong wind and I definitely find it more fun sailing on the edge and I managed to hold it together in Cronulla as it lightened off.`
Cronulla was definitely interesting because of the swell you get sailing on the ocean.'
Jack said finishing third at the nationals was great but first at states was his sailing career highlight to date. Next year he plans moving on to the even faster 29er class.
The silver fleet winners were Avalon's Joshua Ponton and Isacc Biddle in Heroes and Villains.
by Peter McIntosh
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2:46 PM Sun 26 Feb 2012GMT
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