Friday, 7 January 2011

Kiwis sail C-Tech to lead SLAM 12ft Skiff Interdominion

C-Tech from New Zealand gets some pace on to win Race 2. Image copyright Rob Duxbury.

by Di Pearson

Chris Reid and Ben de Fluiter sailed C-Tech Ltd to a solid second and a win to take the lead of the Slam 2011 12ft Skiff Interdominion on upper Sydney Harbour this afternoon, but the New Zealanders know they have a big job ahead of them if they are to maintain and take out the annual Australia versus New Zealand Championship.

But it was the defending champions, Nick Press/Brad Yabsley on Dimension Polyant (AUS), who won the opening race convincingly after jumping out right on the gun at the pin end of the line.

The race committee set up two short races starting from 2.30pm on the north-easterly course, which the leaders completed in just over 45 minutes.

Press and Yabsley showed great speed in the puffy medium breezes, especially on the downwind legs. They were fairly untroubled until the final work, when C-Tech caught them up on a shift and chased them round the mark and home downwind towards the finish.

While Dimension Polyant was well set up to cross the line, C-Tech’s crew felt they wouldn’t make it, and stalled while gybing the kite, hardly holding their boat upright, allowing Press/Yablsley the win. “It was all on,” said C-Tech’s skipper Chris Reid.

“I was surprised the fleet let us go,” said Yabsley, who was further surprised when he and Press port-tacked the fleet after sailing left off the line. “We had plenty between us and the next boats,” he said.

According to the Lane Cove sailor, it wasn’t as simple as it looked. “Every time we got to the top mark, we’d almost be becalmed, but we’d take off again downwind. Alex Vaillings on Nuplex (NZL) gave us a bit of a hard time too.

Press said the two were “pretty happy,” with their performance, but had to concentrate on getting the small things right.

Behind the top two, positions changed up until the second half of the race, when the top 10 got away from the rest of the 34-boat fleet and then the rest split into a further two distinct groups.

Dimension Polyant crossing the finishing line to win Race 1. Image copyright Rob Duxbury.

In Race 2, the lead changed a few times between three boats, but C-Tech stayed solid to score the bullet from a second New Zealand entry, Alex Vaillings/Cameron McDonald (Nuplex), with Dimension Polyant third, giving C-Tech (Reid/de Fluiter the overall lead, while Dimension Polyant is second overall.

“It was a difficult race, we had Nick Press off our hip and Murray Press (Gemmell Sails) too,” Reid said. “We just kept chipping away until we got the lead. There was lots of puff at the top mark and our main was inside out a couple of times, it was pressure sailing.

“There were times I thought we’d be better off with our second rig, but then we would’ve been murdered in the lulls. It was great to start the regatta with two good results,” said Reid, who confided he was staying with Nick Press: “I’d better be careful, there could be a bit of a chat on tonight,” he laughed.

The nor’east gusts wreaked havoc on the fleet; Tim Bartlett’s Frankenskiff had a rig altercation with another boat and damaged her carbon rigging, forcing Bartlett to miss Race 2. The record six-time Interdominion veteran champion from New Zealand will have to pull a rabbit out of a hat to overcome this setback.

In a second Kiwi incident, W2’s crew, Sam Trethewey, limped ashore with a suspected sprained ankle, but vowed: “It will get better tonight and I’ll be back on the boat tomorrow.”

Elsewhere on the course, several were caught out in gusts and were seen “lying down” on the job down the runs, the most spectacular capsize came from Nick Bernard/Robbie Polec (AUS) who buried Hey Charger off Cockatoo Island, making them the first crew in contention for the Miner’s trophy. There were a few retirements too.

The SLAM 12ft skiff Interdominion opening day was enjoyed up close and personal by spectators too. Clarke’s Point at Hunters Hill was the perfect vantage point for the large crowd that gathered. They weren’t disappointed by the action either.

Hosted by Lane Cove 12ft Skiff Sailing Club, with the cooperation of Hunters Hill Sailing Club, Race 3 of the 10 race 51st Interdominion will be held tomorrow, starting from 2.30pm, weather dependent.

SLAM 12ft skiffs