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13' and 16' Skiff Australian National Championships at St George Sailing Club - Day 4

by Adam Lucius 11 Jan 16:41 PST 6-13 January 2023

Twelve months ago, national 13ft skiff winners EBIX had the title wrapped up well before the final race.

So dominate were they, skipper Jemma Hopkins and brother James could have sat out the final two heats and still claimed the title on the back of a series of wins early in the regatta. A year on and things aren't quite as comfortable for the Hopkins siblings. The Manly boat is again in the lead on the overall pointscore, having guided EBIX-Sail Racing to two wins and three seconds, but this year there will be no cruising through the final stages. Their advantage over nearest rival and club mate (Theo Franklin & Coby Napper) is only four points with three races to go. Less than a minute separated EBIX and CyberTech in Thursday's heat six, underlining just how little there is between the two boats. Franklin will keep throwing punches until the final bell sounds.

Asked if he felt it would go down to the wire, James replied: "Yeah 100%. But we have really felt good in the boat in all of the conditions so far so we are just looking to stay consistent over the next two days. "We are only just past halfway through and as we have seen so many times this regatta the race is never over until the finish line."

The Hopkins were given a reminder to the challenges they face over the next two days when Franklin pushed them all the way in another testing journey around the track in heat six. James said: "We got underneath a boat on the start which made it a bit hard to get straight into the groove but our upwinds and downwinds in a bit more wind today felt great and we just kept chipping away."

Meanwhile, St George's hopes of a celebrating a national crown at their home regatta increased significantly after Southerly (Sarah Lee) took out heat six of the Australian 16s title. Starting the day a point behind leader Moonen Yachts (Daniel Turner), Lee and crew Keagan York and Kurt Warner blitzed the field to win by more than a minute from Noakes (Lee Knapton) and Modern Concept Constructions (Gerard Smith). And in further good news, Southerly's closest rivals Moonen and Imagine Signage (Nathan Wilmot) finished well back in the fleet, meaning Lee has opened up a massive 10-point advantage on the series pointscore with three races remaining.

If Southerly can maintain the rage, Lee will become the first female in the event's 88-year history to lift the trophy. The championships continue with heats seven and eight on Friday, and final Heat 9 on Saturday.

All results so far:

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