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2022 Australian Musto Skiff National Championship at Lake Illawarra, NSW

by Paul Newman 13 Jan 06:26 PST 4-7 January 2022
Paul Newman (2nd overall, on left) congratulates his brother, Jon Newman, for winning the 2022 Australian Musto Skiff Nationals © Brendan Markey

With Covid still impacting interstate travel and high on consideration for summer plans, there were less boats at the 2022 titles than in previous years, but the same excitement and anticipation was felt as most of the fleet left Victoria to join two local boats in Lake Illawarra, New South Wales.

The coastal lake presented a fantastic place to sail skiffs and with its flat water and costal sea breezes, it had all the makings of a fun week for all.

Day 1

The day greeted us with bright sunshine and a light 5-12 knot easterly, as the fleet headed out for the first start.

Race 1 - This race started with most of the fleet being conservative on the pin end biased line, but not Richie Robertson who port tacked the fleet and won the start. Jon Newman won the pin and tacked soon after Richie also crossed the fleet. Paul Newman chose to continue a bit further left before tacking on a knock and sailing a good shift inside Jon and Richie to cross them the next time the boats met.

After a poor start, Wayne Bates was the most 'right' boat, which almost ended up being a winning move as he picked up a favourable right shift halfway up the beat and looked like he was going to take the lead. A late left shift, however, near the top mark gave the lead back to Paul followed by Jon, Robin Dayse and Wayne.

Downwind, not much changed, and at the bottom Paul chose to round the right gate mark and Jon, Robin and Wayne went around the Left. The right mark ended up being the better choice with Paul extending his lead and Jon, Robin and Wayne were left fighting for the minor places. Jon held off the other contenders up the next windward leg and Wayne fought through Robin by the top mark to round in 3rd. Another slow downwind meant the results were unchanged, at the finish, with Paul 1st, Jon 2nd, and Wayne 3rd.

Race 2 - In this race the breeze and course were much the same and so was the start, with Jon again winning the pin favoured start before tacking to cross the fleet. Paul again chose to take Jon transom to get further left to find a better shift and tacking and lifting inside Jon.

Wayne and Robin started further up the line and were going well until a surprise lull and knock put an end to Robin's race. As such, he went swimming not long after the start. Wayne continued to work up the right/middle of the course picking favourable shifts to just cross the guys on the left and round the top mark first, closely followed by Richie, Jon, and Paul.

Downwind was busy with lots of position changes in the puffy gusts and shifts, but at the bottom Richie had worked his way to the front, closely followed by Paul, Jon, and Wayne. Paul again tacked up the mid/left and managed to take the lead from Richie by the top mark with Jon close behind.

Paul and Richie straight set with Jon electing to gibe set and head left, Paul and Richie were left to sweat and stress as the two-time World Champ continued to find pressure on the left. Jon held his gybe late while Paul and Richie tried to pick up as many small gusts as possible to keep Jon at bay. Paul just held on by a boat length to take the win over Jon and then Richie.

Race 3 - The third race started in the same conditions as the previous two with Paul and Richie jostling for the pin with both nearly pushing too far and only just scraping around the pin. Paul was off the line first with Richie very close behind. Richie was forced to tack off leaving Paul and most of the fleet heading left. Wayne after a nice start forced Jon to tack off as well pushing him to the right with Richie. While Jon continued right, Richie found a lane on top of the fleet and tacked back in a nice shift and pressure in the centre of the course to take the lead halfway up the windward leg. Paul, Wayne, and Robin jostled for positions on the left, with Paul winning the battle and rounding the top mark behind Richie and in front of Robin and Michael Berryman, who had had a fantastic windward leg to round in front of Wayne and Jon.

As the race continued, Richie led to the bottom closely followed by Paul, with Jon performing one of his trademark 'get out of jail' downwind legs to round in third. Jon continued his charge crossing Paul and Richie halfway up the windward leg. Paul and Richie regrouped and struck back at the top end of the course with Richie rounding first and Paul second, with Jon still snapping at their heels.

Paul and Jon hooked into a nice gust behind Richie who was closing the gap on him before the gibe. The Newman brothers both elected to gybe inside Richie leaving him stuck in a hole with no wind, and Paul and Jon to fight it out to the line in the fading breeze. Paul managed to hold out Jon by a boat length again with Richie not far behind.

Day 2

This was another picture-perfect day with bright sunshine and a light 7-10 knot NE breeze.

Race 4 - It started with Jon winning the pin and forcing Paul to tack away. Robin started well towards the middle of the line and rolled over the top of Wayne to follow Jon out to the left of the course. Wayne had trap harness issues when the Velcro strap let go, which cost him some places and possibly some Covid kgs contributed to this - sorry Wayne! - who thought otherwise. Jon and Robin picked up the first shift and took off to the top mark leading the rest of the fleet around with Richie and Paul in chase.

Jon gybe set while Robin, Richie and Paul elected to straight set. Robin chose to head to the right-hand side while Richie, Paul and Wayne worked the middle finding some nice gusts and closing the gap to Jon by the bottom mark. At the bottom it was Jon, Paul, Richie Wayne and then Robin.

Jon rounded and headed right on the next windward leg followed by Richie, with Paul and Wayne electing to go left. Jon tacked to cover the left boats, but Richie continued right. Jon picked it perfectly and extended his lead, and behind him Paul came in from the left to just cross Richie coming in from the right before the top mark. Rounding it was Jon, Paul, Richie, Robin, and Wayne.

Jon extended his lead further down the downwind leg winning and taking the win with a healthy margin to Paul who covered Richie down the last leg.

Musto Skiffs and B14s in the picture-perfect conditions on Race Day 2: (© Bryan Moses)

Race 5 - The fifth race started as the storm clouds loomed off the coast and a 15 - 18 knot rain squall hit the fleet in the last minute before the gun. Jon and Richie fought for the pin with Jon winning the battle to lead Richie out towards the left. Jon slowly squeezed up on Richie until Richie decided he'd had enough of that and abruptly beared away - diving under Jon and pushing through and out to the left.

Wayne was the first to tack, closely followed by Paul, Jon and then Richie, while the others continued left. The rain continued as they neared the top mark with Jon leading the fleet around followed by Richie, Paul and then Wayne.

The fleet tentatively set their kites in the first strong breeze of the regatta, hoping the rain squall did not get stronger. Fortunately, the squall did not, and all had a nice ride to the bottom mark with Jon rounding first, followed by Richie then Paul who split tacks with Paul heading right and Richie left. As the rain got heavier and the wind got lighter, Paul tried his hardest to catch Richie, but it was to no avail with Jon rounding first, then Richie, and then Paul.

Paul, determined to not give up his regatta lead, kept at Richie and in the last hundred metres or so finally found a way past, taking second place to Richie in third.

Day 3

Race 6 - With a forecast of some very strong winds the fleet was a bit weary about going out on the water for race 6, with only four boats choosing to brave the conditions and only three making it to the start line.

The race started in a strong 20 knot breeze with Paul winning the start at the pin to Jon and Richie, but the power of the bigger guys quickly came to the front with Richie sailing under Paul and Jon sailing over. Paul held Jon up for as long as possible but could not stop him sailing over him.

Jon and Richie steamed towards the left with Jon electing to tack first, and Richie and Paul taking his transom and continuing left. Richie chose to tack next but did not execute his tack and capsized. Paul tacked soon after chasing Jon towards the top mark, and with a nice left shift, he managed to close the gap to Jon by the top mark, but not enough with Jon rounding first, closely followed by Paul.

Both Jon and Paul delayed the set slightly as they rounded in a large gust of wind but got their kites up as soon as the boats had settled. The brothers charged towards the bottom with Jon gybing too soon and Paul too late, however, the late gybe seemed to work better as Paul managed to close the gap to Jon at the bottom mark before splitting tacks and heading off up wind. Paul then headed right, and Jon tacked to cover before Jon found a nice shift in the middle of the course extending his lead slightly by the top mark. Both brothers then set their kites and headed for the bottom mark again with Jon maintaining his lead at the bottom mark as they turned and headed for the top one last time.

Jon extended his lead by the top mark and headed for home in another large gust, and Paul rounded next in the same gust, and they charged towards the finish. Jon landed the gybe on the lay and headed through the finish to win the race. Paul landed the first gybe, but under layed the finish forcing another gybe and causing a last-minute mistake and swim just before the finish. With Paul not quite drifting through the finish line, he was going to have to right the boat, tack and bear away before Richie caught him. Luckily, after swearing and cursing at himself, Paul managed to get all that done just before Richie caught up. It was Jon 1st, Paul 2nd, and Richie 3rd.

Day 4

On this day - with a forecast much the same as the previous day - there were nervous faces once again as everyone prepared for the days racing. The wind, however, held off and all boats left the beach in a nice 10 knots, only to be hit by 20 knots just off the club.

Race 7 - This race started in 18 - 20 knots with quite a chop building up at the bottom end of the course. Richie won the pin and headed out to the left with Jon on his hammer who had rolled over Wayne on the start. Paul was forced to tack off and headed right. Richie and Jon headed to the left corner of the racetrack with Jon managing to stay inside Richie and tack first and lead him back across to the top mark. Wayne was not far behind Jon and Richie and all three crossed Paul as they neared the top to round in that order.

Then, kites went straight up, and the fleet charged towards the bottom mark with only Paul electing to gybe set. Wayne chose to drop his kite early and was conservative, which allowed Paul to get through by the bottom. Jon and Richie headed left again, while Wayne and Paul headed right, but as the wind strengthened, the distance between the positions grew and they finished in that order (Jon, Richie, Paul, Wayne and then Robin). A lap later, they were thoroughly exhausted as they had all done more sailing this week than the last two years put together.

At the end of the regatta, it was Jon who prevailed again in a mixture of conditions, Congratulations to Jon and a big thank you to IYC and all who made the effort to come to the regatta and enjoy themselves.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameHelmR1R2R3R4R5R6R7Pts
1492Fast GirlJon Newman22211118
2578HummerPaul Newman111222310
3553Whale all Beef HookedRitchie Robertson533333217
4554Spud MuffinWayne Bates34454DNS424
5565The MistressRobin Dayes45545DNS528
6581BoatMichael Berryman77666DNSDNS41
7425RubyDavid Taylor66777DNSDNS42
8243Lazy 8Scott MaddockDNF888DNFDNSDNS51

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