It was the 18 foot skiffs sailing in the mid fleet that entertained the crowd on the spectator ferry during the Sydney Flying Squadron’s Spring Series race. Avaya and Wentworth Courier collided; Ella Bache gave Intercall a rule refresher course and Dinghy Solutions left crew behind swimming in Sydney’s harbour.
Competition front runners Sydney Star Accommodation (Michael Boyd) and Synergy (Michael Carter) played out a virtual match race for line honors. A late start by Sydney Star Accommodation meant the skiff crew had to sail through the rest of the fleet to catch the leading Synergy. Sydney Star Accommodation eventually clawed back to take the lead, but a major tactical error on the second last leg of the course let Synergy regain the lead.
Synergy had tacked away from Sydney Star to get clearer air, and Boyd decided to allow Carter the break, and instead chased better breeze across the harbour. However it was a bad decision that flew in the face of accepted tactical practice of covering your opponent, and it backfired badly for Boyd. Synergy took back the lead crossing Sydney Star’s bow late in the second half leg, taking a lead that Sydney Star could not quite take back.
But regardless of the tussle between the leaders, it was the 18 footers sailing in the Sydney Flying Squadron’s mid fleet who truly stole the show. It started with class stalwart Adrian Dunphy applying some basic right-of-way rules at the start line and forcing Lea Sitja’s Intercall to turn back so that Ella Bache had room to maneuver.
Sitja’s Intercall, with Canadian 49er crew of Geoff Gales and Matt Dubreucq took the blow and managed to tactically attack Ella Bache for the duration of the race. Sailing to windward Ella Bache would lose out, but then take the lead back on the downwind legs. This continued for most of the race with Ella Bache eventually beating Intercall home.
The other exciting application of right-of-way rules was between Ian Pretty’s Wentworth Courier and Michael Rynan’s Avaya. Both were closing on the finish line and Avaya called for the windward skiff to keep clear. A moment of poor judgment from one of the skippers left resulted in Avaya’s and Wentworth Courier’s wings locking, with Avaya’s bowman Andrew Smith falling onto the other skiff. A heated moment with a few coarse words, then the skiffs parted without damage. However Wentworth Courier had to take the penalty which allowed Avaya to beat them home.
It was the Dinghy Solutions 18 footer that entertained most though, with Skipper Andrew Franklin with brother Robert losing fellow crew Carl Tindall overboard as they were closing on the finish line only seconds behind Wentworth Courier and Avaya. Dinghy Solutions had the spinnaker up and to lose a crew person at that stage was catastrophic. Dinghy Solutions had to capsize to retrieve the spinnaker and wait for Tindall to swim a good 100 meters to catch up with them. Luckily they didn’t lose any places. With Tindall putting in a good effort, they managed to retrieve their crew, pack the spinnaker back into it’s bag, right the skiff and still sail to the finish in front of the rapidly closing Ella Bache and Intercall.
Other skiffs Scott Merrington’s Sign-A-Rama and Chris Kameen’s Austar did not have such a good day. Sign-A-Rama was involved in a minor collision with a cruising vessel that ran over their mainsail and mast whilst capsized resulting in minor damage. Austar made a fatal mistake rigging their spinnaker, and on the first hoist a knot failed sending the rope up the mast and the spinnaker overboard. The team spent some time capsized trying to sort out the mess and never recovered from last place.
Sydney Flying Squadron 18 Foot Skiffs
Spring Series Heat 6 Alf Dickson Memorial & Mark Foy Trophies
- Synergy! (M Carter)
- Sydney Star (M Boyd)
- Avaya (M Rynan)
- Wentworth Courier / Sydney Weekly (I Pretty)
- Dinghy Solutions (A Franklin)
- Ella Bache (A Dunphy)
- Intercall (L Sitja)
- Sign-a-Rama (S Merrington)
- Austar (C Kameen)
- Frame Group (C Doran, did not finish)
- Macquarie (M McKensey, did not start)