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12ft Skiff NSW State Championships on Sydney Harbour - Day 1

by Bob Clements 7 Dec 2010 09:11 GMT 5 December 2010

The death of Foxy Lady

Nick Press and Brad Yabsley sailing Dimension Polyant made a perfect start to the NSW 12ft Skiff State Championships on Sydney Harbour on Saturday, recording 2 wins from 2 starts. Though it wasn't all smooth sailing.

A stiff nor-easter blasted across the upper harbour area, and had a few of the crews looking a little nervous, especially due to the large number of other boats in the area. Garde (Brett Hobson and Alex Johnson) got a small early lead from Dimension Polyant, with Gemmell Sailing (Murray Press and Ben Gemmell), and Lincoln Crowne (Jonathon Temple and Richard Jones) following closely in 3rd and 4th. Garde held their lead around the first mark. Dimension picked up a favourable gust early on the spinnaker run to reel in Garde. But both boats had to drop spinnakers to sail above Cockatoo Island.

At the bottom mark rounding, Garde held Dimension by just a single boat length. LCC was managing to hold off Gemmell Sails for 3rd as they rounded the bottom mark close together. Back in the fleet, many boats had retired early as the breeze had strengthened, and went ashore to change to smaller rigs in preparation for the second race.

Dimension grabbed the lead on the short beat to the windward mark at Valencia St, rolling over the top of Garde, and showing great speed in the fresh conditions. The two boats remained neck and neck during the next 2 mark roundings.

Gemmell Sails and LCC were also having a battle of their own for 3rd place. Gemmell Sails taking clear 3rd place after LCC capsized on the downwind run to Birchgrove.

Dimension sealed the deal on the first race, when Garde was knocked over by a strong gust on the final beat to Manns Pt. The skiff was ecovered quickly from the capsize, but allowed Dimension a comfortable victory.

Heat two got underway soon after, with some skiff now sporting their smallest 4th rigs. Off the start and up the first beat, the lead bunch were much closer than in heat one, with Dimension, Gemmell Sails, Garde and LCC rounding the top mark almost simultaneously. Garde was the first to come unstuck, capsizing backwards on the spinnaker run. LCC soon followed after a rush spinnaker drop, with the spinnaker jumping back out of the boat whilst they were trying to round the Island and causing a capsize. Gemmell Sails almost made it to the bottom mark, but also capsized whilst dropping their spinnaker.

CST (Robert Bell), running in 5th place down this first spinnaker run had a classic "mine'. This perfect nose dive showed spectators and witnesses the entire hull clean out of the water in a vertical position, supported just by the nose.

The biggest story of the day was for poor old Foxy Lady Too (Peter Pollec and Jamie McCrudden), which capsized in a similar location, but in a disastrous sequence of events, was run over by a large sailing ship. The outcome was not a favorable one, with the skiff being totally cut in half, and much of the rigging being completely trashed. Both skipper and crew were not injured in the accident, managing to jump clear of their capsized skiff seconds before the impact. The ship continued down the harbour with Foxy Lady Too stuck on its bow, leaving witnesses to wonder if the skipper had even seen or noticed the crash.

This is a very disappointing incident for Foxy Lady Too, the 18 year old boat has had countless hours of work done on it in the last year, and was starting to show some good pace, with many club wins and handicap victories.

With the race continuing on, Garde had moved into second place at the bottom mark from Dimension Polyant. Dimension capsized up the next beat giving way to another skiff, and allowed Garde to take the lead. However it would be short lived, as they too would find themselves on their side. Dimensions lead was never again threatened and they went on to record another win.

Garde, who were looking comfortable in second place, broke the tip of their mast 400 meters from the finish line. They managed to limp across the line, but not before Gemmell and LCC overtook, Gemmell Sails again coming up trumps after another fearsome battle with LCC throughout the race.

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