2013 Australian Championship

The 3rd Australian Mustoskiff Championship got underway in warm, sunny conditions and clear skies.  3rd place getters in each heat provide these race reports.
RACE 1 report by Marcus Hamilton
The first race of the Perth nationals got underway cleanly after an  initial general recall by the over excited fleet. The fleet split with  Denis Jones/ Marcus hamilton/ Tim hill/Robin Dayes looking for the fabled left hand shift. The balance of the fleet working the shifts to the right. When the fleets converged it was the Western Australians who were shining. Arthur Brett in the lead, followed by Jones &  Thor Schoenoff.
The downwind proved to be volatile for the holding  a leading position in the fleet. Will Phillips, Jon Newman & Hamilton found pressure and caught up to the sterns of Brett & Jones. Unfortunately Brett suffered gear failure at the bottom gate, as the 5 other lead boats rounded the gate for an evenly matched second work.
Jones & Hamilton got stuck in little pressure on the left, as the pressure retreated to the right, where Newman and Phillips  extended a lead.  Phillips had an uncharacteristic capsize, which gave Newman an unassailable lead.
The final downwind was a race for 2nd between Phillips, Hamilton, jones & Mark Whittington. Phillips prevailed, Hamilton held for 3rd, Jones was 4th and Whittington 5th
RACE 2 by Mark Whittington
Race 2 of the Musto Skiff National championships was held in 5-20 knots in sharp windshifts with large pressure variations over the course – with boats gaining and losing hundreds of meters by picking the wrong tack.
The start got away under individual recall. Many boats responded, thinking they were over and restarting.  This didn’t make much difference with the wind dropping out just after the start. The first shift was right – you had to get one of the two – not OCS or get the right shift. If you didn’t get either then you were in trouble.
Will and AB worked the right side of the course nicely to round very near each other in 1st and 2nd, while Marcus, Richard, Mark and Thor were close behind, some big puffs came down the first run, making boats sail directly at the bottom mark at times.
Second beat had some big changes in angle, and getting out of phase could cost hundreds of meters. Arthur again worked the right hand shoreline, while Ritchie headed hard left, finding the left hand shift, crossing Arthur and taking the lead.  Ritchie gybe set at the top mark while Arthur went for a bear away set.  Ritchie took off in pressure to take a 100 meter lead.
Mark rounded next, with Will, Marcus, Thor and Tim in close pursuit, in a huge puff, the lead boats just ahead of the puff with the boats chasing firmly in the pressure line.  All chose to gybe set at the top mark.
Ritchie travelled to the left hand gybe point and capsized 50 meters from the line, costing him a top 5 finish. Arthur Brett went on to take the win.
Meanwhile the pursuing group had compressed into a tight, super fast bunch approaching the finish line at speed.  Mark gybed onto starboard too early, gybing again to finish on port while Marcus, Will and Thor were approaching the line on starboard.
Tim slipped through the end of the pack on port, gybing twice to finish at the boat end.  Will was held out by Marcus at the pin, gybing onto port to cross Marcus and claim second, Mark crossed next to claim third, Tim slipped across in fourth, while Thor powered in calling starboard on Marcus, luffing around him to cross the line fifth.  Marcus doused his kite, re-rounded to course side, performed his penalty and crossed again to lose 5 places.
Andy, our trusty race officer, found himself reciting a fifteen digit number as the pack crossed the line in less than 3 seconds.

Day 2 Australian MPS Championships held in the slowly building Fremantle

Doctor, in warm sunshine, 38 degrees and 27 degrees water temperature.
Reports by the race’s 3rd placed boats.
RACE 3 report by Chris Sutherland
Race 3 of the Musto Australian Championships was the first race on a 3 race day Saturday.
The seabreeze filled slowly at 1:00pm and the PRO got the race started on 245 degrees in 9 to 14 knots
The race was won by Jon Newman, in the end after 2 veterans Arthur Brett legendary Contender and Windsurfing world champion and Chris Sutherland  fought all day. Youth won in the end we finished in the order of Jon, Arthur and Chris.
Arthur and Chris were part of the fleet at the Pin end of the start, Arthur did a tack part way up the work then came left again while Chris went hard left, other guys tacked off and went central. Left paid and Arthur led Chris around the top Mark for the first time with heavyweight Ritchie Robertson 3rd.  As the breeze slowly built, Arthur and Chris gapped the fleet on the downwind with Chris pulling off a brilliant late drop manoeuvre at the bottom mark to sail around Arthur and take the lead.
On the 2nd work Jon came through with a small shift to take the lead  which he held at the top mark and build a small gap down the run. Arthur and Chris continued to battle with Arthur a little quicker as the wind built towards 12 knots,
In the end Jon extended to lead by a small margin while Arthur just made it over the line ahead of Chris.
Its been a perfect Regatta so far Perth is a wonderful place to sail –
RACE 4 report by Marcus Hamilton
The ‘Freo Doctor’ continued to build to 15-20kts, as the fleet pushed hard for a pin-end start. Phillips, Newman & Hamilton were first to the left side, which was proving to be the favoured side. However, Robertson had worked the shifts perfectly up the centre and had built a commanding lead at the top. Whittington, Schoenoff were in the mix downwind as the fleet closed up, except for Robertson who was still well clear.
The positions of the fleet were unchanged on the second lap as the lead boats protected the left.
On the third & final lap, things got interesting. The lead group was split by a ferry coming up the river. Phillips & Hamilton continued left and Newman tacked up the centre of course. When the boats converged at the top Hamilton, Whittington & Schoenhoff had benefited from the separation and had closed in on Newman.
Robertson was still well clear and determined to avenge his race 2 capsize, which  had  cost him the race win. With the pressure building on the course and in Robertson’s head as he approached the final gybe to the finish line. It was success! The clean gybe gives Robertson the win.
Phillips holds second, and Hamilton follows in third, ahead  of Whittington &  Schoenhoff in fourth & fifth.
RACE 5 report by Jon Newman
Clear start and the fleet was away in 15-25 knots. Most of the fleet heading to the left hand shore line awaiting the left shift with the pressure. Few opting to tack out early to not risk the shallows ended up paying for it.
Top mark was Phillips, Hamilton, Newman and Hill. Newman having a bad bear away and standing it on the nose to result in a capsize with the remaining fleet having to dodge the mess. Phillips and Hamilton took off to put a large gap on the fleet.
Newman playing good catch up and getting back to 4th behind Thor by the gate. Next upwind. Hamilton and Phillips kept at it but not much changed between them with Phillips holding a clear lead.
Few shifts saw Newman pass Thor to get back in touch with the leaders by the next top mark. Huge downwind gusts saw the Phillips lead reduce to Hamilton and Newman with Thor close behind still. Bad rounding for Thor with a capsize and it was a 3 boat race for the 3rd lap.
Phillips with a loose cover on Hamilton and Newman. With all heading for the left again. Bad tack with a capsize for Newman saw the places locked in and Phillips ended with an easy win. Hamilton surviving a wonkey last gybe to remain second with Newman attacking still to come 3rd. Mark Whittington 4th followed by Tim Hill in 5th.
Day 3 Australian MPS Championship concludes in dramatic fashion 2 boats protested by the Race Committee for not signing on before going afloat, despite one of these boats returning ashore to sign later and still making the start of both race, and a third boat returning undetected and not protested by the Race Committee.
Both boats were penalised 4 points to be added to their regatta totals by the Jury for not signing on prior to going afloat.
Racing was conducted in fading North Westerly breeze. Following reports by Denis Joes and Arthur Brett.
RACE 6 by Denis Jones
After missing the start by 1 minute yesterday and getting flogged at Snap in the morning by my 8 year old, it was time to regroup and focus.
After a final reminder from 18 bowman, Thor Schoenoff to not be late and a perfectly non-polite retort it was time to head off to the course an hour early. Arriving to very little wind, the fleet sweated around for an hour in the above 30 degree heat, until our RO Andy Curnow summand some breeze.
We were answered with a fairly stable 20 knot North easterly. (Amazing work Andy…)
Arthur Brett won the start at the pin, with Marcus Hamilton winning the middle and Denis Jones at the boat.  The three leading boats with others close behind all charged to the left hand side, not sure how the breeze was going to oscillate in the 3 lap race.
Arthur, Marcus and also going quick, Richie Robertson, were the first to tack to Port and took a couple of sterns, including Denis’s.
The top mark saw a slight shift to the RHS, which favoured the early tackers, including Jon Newman.
There were a few minor changes on the run, Notably Arthur Brett who nose-dived and swam in some large ferry wake during a gybe. Denis and Jon gybed early and managed to surf the waves to make up a few extra boat lengths.
All the boats converged closely at the bottom mark in fading breeze. Marcus was sailing really smart and held his lead both on the downwind and the next beat.  Mark Whittington and Thor pulled a great early shift and Denis gained ground in the middle.  The top mark had Marcus still in control with Jon and others chasing.  Jon had a weird capsize, looked like he ran over the kite.
Again everyone converged at the bottom and it was time for major decisions.  A group worked the left while Denis and Richie saw breeze on the right. Marcus did a great job keeping both groups under his belt.  At the top it was Richie, Marcus and Denis all very close.
The final run home was tough in the fading breeze, Marcus did best and got the gun, Tim Hill who was at everyone’s ankle the whole race snuck through for 2nd and Denis third.  Richie who gybed through the middle lucked out for a 5th.
RACE 7 by Arthur Brett
Breeze was from north east at the start at 6 knots then swinging 20 degrees to the right up the first beat and then another 20 throughout the rest of the race.
The boats out to the right on the first beat were favoured by the swinging of the breeze but those on the left were favoured by slightly more pressure. Those on the left were forced to hold their nerve and wait for a small shift back near the top. The right side paid but it could have been a whole lot worse for the others. Denis Jones led from Jon Newman.
Because of the 20 degree shift, the downwind was mostly spent on the port gybe. It was important to realise early that the left hand gate looking downwind was going to be heavily biased and to jockey for a smooth rounding position before it was too late. Jon led at the bottom form Denis.
There was a change of course for the second upwind and the breeze continued to drop. The strength was now under 5 knots with some handy and fairly subtle shifts on offer. There were some sizeable gains and losses and it became a real challenge to keep wide vision of the course and still sail the boat fast. Jon led from Denis and then Pickets Whittington.
The last downwind was always going to be tricky. The breeze was just strong enough to keep the kite filled and any gybe was going to cost more than normal. It was important to survey each side of the course on approaching the top mark and be measured and strong with the choice of the first gybe. Most of the fleet gybed and went left with a couple going right. Pickets came from the right and claimed the chocolates with Jon coming in second. Denis got dudded big time and was passed by a big clump of boats.

With no racing possible on Day 4, 3 races were scheduled for Day 5, with a steadily building sea breeze forecast for the middle off the day.
The fleet left the beach in light conditions, the wind swinging from gradient to sea breeze direction and settling in at 8 knots as the fleet started.
The breeze swung right off the line, favouring boats at the boat end, before bending back to the left as the leaders approached the port tack lay line. Newman, Hill, Green, Sutherland and Phillips led the fleet back to the starboard approach and onto the first run. Newman found pressure on the right hand side of the run to lead to the bottom gate from Phillips and Hill.
The second beat followed the same pattern as the first.  Hill and Newman took s short hitch to the right, tacked back to the left while Phillips headed immediately to the left hand side.  The wind shifted left and strengthened, Phillips making up ground to round in second behind Newman, Hill and Thor following.
Newman held his lead to the finish, while behind him boats gybing early back to the centre of the course passed Phillips leaving him 5th over the line.  Hill was 2nd, Thor 3rd and Sutherland 4th.
The breeze freshened to 12 knots at the start of Race 9, shifting to the right again favouring boats at the boat end. Hill and Newman crossed the fleet while Robertson headed to the right hand side of the course. Hill and Newman tacked to cross Robertson on a band of pressure, approaching the starboard tack lay line as the wind suddenly built to 25 knots.
Newman bore away in a cloud of spray at the top mark and gybed while Hill held on on starboard trying to settle his boat.  Robertson followed with the of the fleet close behind.
Hill swam briefly on the gybe. Newman reached in to set his kite, ploughed along the the nose in, stepped back to pull the bow out, reached in again, nearly lost it once more and elected to ride the gust out to the bottom mark without setting.  The rest of the fleet attempted hoists, gybes and drops to varying degrees of success.  Thor managed a gybe set and rode Newman down to round close behind in the ride of the regatta. Hill righted his boat, left his kite in the bag and rounded 3rd, with Hamilton and Phillips close behind.
The breeze stayed in at 20-25 knots.  Newman’s tiller extension detached from his tiller in his tack to the top mark and he swam, giving the lead to Thor. Hill went right, Phillips went left, following Thor to the top mark with Hill behind.  Thor kept his kite in the bag, Phillips set and swam on the gybe, Hill kept his kite down also, made the gybe and finished second, Phillips third, Hamilton fourth, Newman fifth.
Race 10 was epic. 20-25 knots with few lulls and a short chop ricocheting off the headlands making gybing very difficult. The fleet all headed left to the lay line on the first beat, Newman rounding first from Hamilton. Some boats set kites down the run, some didn’t, some swam on drops, others on gybes, others on tacks. Newman held it together to lead to the finish, followed by Phillips, Hill, Hamilton and Thor in fifth.
The final results saw just crowned Australian 49er Champion, Will Phillips pip his former crewmate, Jon Newman by just one point. Tim Hill’s consistent sailing on the final day lifted him into 3rd overall, one point in front of Marcus Hamilton with promising newcomer Mark Whittington in fifth.
Many thanks to Thor, Chris and the growing WA fleet for putting on a great event and Mounts Bay Yacht Club for making it possible. Special thanks goes to our Race Officer, Andy Curnow, who negotiated the unusual weather conditions and managed to give us a full series in fair racing conditions. The next nationals will be in Victoria, at a venue to be decided later in the year.