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13' and 16' Skiff Australian National Championships at St George Sailing Club - Day 3

by Adam Lucius 10 Jan 06:38 GMT 6-13 January 2023

They don't call the fourth and fifth heats "moving day" for nothing.

Tuesday's double header of racing saw a new leader emerge after the drop was applied on the series pointscore for the first time, giving us a clearer picture of the title contenders.

Manly's Moonen Yachts (Daniel Turner) picked up a second and an eighth to grab the overall lead after five races. Southerly (Sarah Lee), from host club St George, is a point behind in second after two top 10 finishes, with defending champion Nathan Wilmot on Imagine Signage a further point adrift. With four heats remaining, the top three boats have opened up a sizeable advantage from the chasing pack.

Turner, who won the national title on Sutech Musto Racing in 2019/20, knows better than anyone the heat will be turned up over the closing four races. "It will come down to that last race as it usually does in these regattas," he predicted. "It's just a matter of making sure there's not much difference between your best and worst. "We got rid of our worst (a 34th in race three) on Monday and had a really productive debrief that night and now we keep rolling through the days."

A patchy 12-15 knot southerly, a low tide and another mass of jellyfish greeted the fleet on Botany Bay on Tuesday and it quickly developed into a race in two, with the top three pulling away from the next three boats behind them. Belmont's Makin brothers on Skelcon sailed an almost flawless race, handling the conditions superbly to finish 10 seconds ahead of Moonen with Manly boat Modern Concept Constructions (Gerard Smith) third and Imagine fourth.

Fluid Building - a boat name synonymous with success at the nationals under former skipper Clint Bowen - saluted in the day's second race after another ding-dong battle. Skipper Dave O'Connor, who took out the 2018/19 title on Manly Surf n Slide, piloted Fluid across the line with more than a minute to spare as an emotional Bowen watched on from the Sail Media boat. Fellow Manly boat Cunninghams (Nick Connor) was next home from Southerly and IMEI (Hugh Stodart).

Defending 13ft champions Ebix-Sail Racing (Jemma Hopkins) have opened up a three-point advantage over its nearest rival. That's after Hopkins and brother James guided the boat to a fourth and first on day three.

Manly stablemate CyberTechGroup.com (Theo Frankin) is close behind in second with Harken (Heide Bates) third and still within striking distance. Nine of the top 10-placed boats in the 13s hail from Manly, with Black Cat (Angus Stewart) from Hornsby-Ku-ring-gai Sailing Club breaking up the dominance.

Wednesday is the traditional regatta rest day, with racing resuming on Thursday with heat six.

Results so far:

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