AUS MUSTO Skiff National Championship 2019
Hosted by Wangi RSL Amateur Sailing Club (AUS)
Report by Tim Hill
Photos by Phil Mayo
DAY 1 REPORT- RACE 1 & 2
With a prediction of sunny 20 knot sea breezes, the fleet set off in anxious haste having been sternly informed by our PRO that no late starters would be tolerated. We were greeted by a 10-12 knot north easterly sea breeze predicted to increase.
Hayden Brown distinguished himself by capsizing at the pin end on port tack with 30 seconds to go to the start. The fleet crossed in front of the capsized skiff, with Marcus Hamilton and Peter Kendall led the fleet to the left, while Richie Roberston and Tim Hill bailed out and headed right, hoping to pick up a shift on the southern headland.
Richie led to the top mark with Marcus in close pursuit followed by Peter, Tim and Paul Newman. Richie dropped his kite and dropped early and was fouled by Tim (who took his penalty, dropping to 7th) and Marcus led the fleet upwind, with Paul in third, Peter in fourth, Wayne Bates in 5th.
Marcus played the shifts holding a loose cover of Richie, but the wind god powered through, taking a narrow lead to the top mark. Marcus passed him down the run with Paul in third. On the final work, Richie once again took the lead, Marcus underlaid the top mark, needing to double tack and had trouble on the hoist, Richie held on to win.
The building sea breeze hadn’t materialised, and the fleet got away first time in 10-15 knots. Richie started well and crossed early. Marcus and Peter held on looking for a left hand shift, returning to cross Richie towards the end of the beat. Marcus led to the top market, Richie second and Peter third, followed by a tight bunch comprising Tim, Brett Morris and Paul Newman.
Marcus gybe set and most followed suite. Marcus extended his lead down the run. Marcus went left and slapped a loose cover on Richie, wisely spending his buffer to retain the lead at the top mark.
The leaders gybe set again and the fleet followed their lead. Marcus extended his lead once again to the bottom gate from Richie with Tim in third.
The leaders the headed out to the right, playing the southern side of the course. Tim rolled the dice out on the north side, hoping for a miracle. On the last beat Tim extended from the group but didn’t cross the gap to the leaders. Marcus went on to record a win, with Richie in second place, Tim in third.
Chaos ensued in the following group with a series of capsizes, misteps and mishaps resulting in Casey Bates (that’s Wayne’s son) finishing 4th, his best result in a MUSTO regatta, Robin Dayes fifth.
After 2 races, Wayne and Casey are locked on equal points with plenty of racing to come.
DAY 2 – RACE 3,4 & 5 – broken cloud and sunshine, southerly breeze 10-20 and shifting.
With a threatening forecast that brought a strong southerly and cold(er) weather to the lake, the battle of the titans resumed between Marcus and Richie.
Peter and Tim led off from the pin in 15-20 knots in sunshine and low cloud. Marcus started at the boat with Richie. Richie tacked off, Marcus followed while Peter and Tim speculated on the expected left swing. In the end, Peter made his way off the port layline to find a grinning Wayne Bates working the right hand side, leading to the top mark by some margin. Marcus arrived next with a big pack following.
A fast and furious downhill followed with Wayne putting it in at the gybe point. Marcus led to the gate, followed by Brett, Peter and Richie.
Marcus led off to the right, Brett and Richie followed. Marcus played the shifts and the fleet, extending to a comfortable lead at the top mark for the last downwind.
A tight bunch comprising Brett, Richie and Tim negotiated Peter’s mid-kite set gybe/capsize. In the distance, Marcus chose to cross the start line, instead of the finish line, leaving Brett’s whooping evil laugh in celebration claiming his first win of the 2019 Nationals.
Richie and Tim followed him through the line while Marcus untangled himself from his predicament to record a likely discard of 8th.
The sun came out, the thermal started to influence the southerly and the course was duly shifted to the left. as the breeze faded momentarily to 10-12 knots.
Marcus, Tim and Hayden Brown led off the pin. Brett and Richie tacked off from the boat. Marcus led to the top mark while Peter Kendall rounded second from the right hand layline.
Marcus led to the bottom mark, Peter second. Richie was well back but elected to hit the right hand shoreline, picking up a significant left hander and working the shifts to reach the top mark in third, just behind Peter.
Marcus managed to correctly finish, this time in first place, followed by Peter, Richie and Tim, benefiting from Brett’s ungainly capsize on the right hand side of the course in a mysteriously vanishing puff.
The breeze came back to 10-18 knots, and while the titans clashed, another big boy came out to play. Peter deployed his extensive local knowledge, smashing the pin end start with Marcus just above. Peter and Marcus hit the left hand layline while Richie played the right hand side again. Peter had difficulty tacking, handing the first mark to Marcus, Richie coming in from the right, followed in third.
Marcus held his lead while Richie went to work on Peter to claim second at the gate. The leaders headed left, while Peter headed right. Richie started to roll Marcus, Marcus responded by tacking, Richie tacked below and both started working the waves and shifts, tacking whenever they had an advantage.
All the while, Peter worked in below the right hand headland, finding the biggest right hand shift of the day swirling in below the shoreline. Sailing fast in the flat water he crossed in front for the last time and completed a bear away set, picking up a lane of pressure that carried him to the gybe point.
Marcus had gybe set at the top, returning to the gate on starboard while Peter blasted in on port. Peter went through the finish line first for his maiden Mustoskiff Nationals win.
Batesy benefited from Richie missing a tack at the top mark and finished in 3rd. Richie’s capsize pushed him back to 6th place.
At day's end, the battling titans found themselves together on equal points, but with Marcus’s special finish in race 1 giving him a slightly higher drop.
Tim remains in third, with big improver Peter Kendall threatening to muscle onto the podium.
Wind is forecast to return to sea breezes tomorrow, with temperatures back up in the low thirties.
Fun Fact – Robin Dayes disturbed a bull shark basking on the surface. He reckoned it was/is the length of his port rack, while Brett spotted a hammerhead shark he reckoned was around 4 feet long. Both sharks were spotted just off the top mark.
The wildlife seems to be benign.
DAY 3 – RACE 6,7 & 8 – bright sunshine with sea breezes 15-20 knots
10-12 knots and bright sunshine with a building North Easterly sea breeze predicted to peak at 20 knots at some point during the day.
Richie and Peter led off from the pin, pursued by Marcus, Tim and Brett.
Brett tacked off early to the right, Richie and Peter followed soon after. Peter showed outstanding speed to hit the right hand layline, tacking to cross the fleet and lead at the first mark. Richie followed in second, Tim in third, with Marcus down the fleet for the first time.
Peter headed to the right hand side of the run, picked the layline to the gate, maintaining his lead while Tim pursued Richie.
Peter sailed to the right hand gate heading off the northern shore, Tim and Richie followed suite.
At the top mark positions remained unchanged. Peter got down the run, completing another well deserved win with Richie holding off a fast finishing Tim. Marcus finished well back.
The breeze swung 40 degrees left and strengthened to 15-18 knots.
Tim led off the pin towards the northern shoreline. Marcus held his line on Richie, forcing him to tack early. Tim tacked to cross and Marcus tacked below, leading Tim into a long right hand shift. Richie joined Marcus from the right hand side, returning the favour from the start line. He tacked on the right hand layline to cross Marcus with Tim in third.
Marcus and Richie led down the run, with Tim falling out the back of his boat mid hoist in a vicious gust. Brett capsized avoiding Tim. Race over for both of them.
Paul got through to third on the run, while Marcus led to the left hand gate, Richie the right. Richie overtook Marcus by heading into the north shore. At the top mark Richie led by a small margin from Marcus while Robin overtook Paul arriving at the top mark in third.
Richie sailed away from Marcus in a huge gust, the boats now often airborne down the reach. Marcus followed, gybing inside Richie as they approached the layline. He gybed back inside Richie on the run to the line, with Richie claiming another win by his kite pole. Paul overtook Robin on the run to claim third.
With the wind firming again Marcus led from the pin with Richie just above, Tim the next in line. Richie exercised his superman pointing ability in 20 knots, sucking up above Marcus and forcing Tim into his wind shadow.
From sailing a low fast groove, Marcus attempted to cross and Richie tacked inside to leeward with Tim electing to sail a little further in to the shoreline. Richie sped across the course to reach the right hand layline, but mis-judged the lay and had to double tack at the top mark, handing the lead back to Marcus, with Tim in third.
A wild, bucking reach followed with Marcus extending his lead down the run. He reached into the northern shoreline, gybed onto port, gybing again to arrive at the right hand gate. Richie followed, while Tim chose the left hand gate, taking a short hitch to tack back onto starboard and join the race into the northern shoreline.
Richie began to haul Marcus in on the run, closing the distance. Marcus led into the top mark for the last time, losing his tiller in the kite set, spinning into windward and capsizing. Richie arrived immediately afterwards, his bow driven into the short chop in a big gust. Both leaders were capsized within meters of each other, with Marcus recovering his composure to set his kite just in front of Tim who managed to complete the bear away and cautiously set his kite.
The final run careered between epic and exhaustion. Marcus maintained the inside position while Tim raced along the shoreline searching for a lull to consider the gybe to the line.
Marcus gybed to cross first, Tim just behind dropping his kite to make the finish, Paul in third.
So at the end of Day 3, Marcus maintained his lead by the slenderest margin of a ½ point, with Tim and Richie judged to have crossed the line simultaneously in Race 6, a call which will be reviewed tomorrow morning. Tim remains in third.
Big breeze forecast tomorrow. Fingers crossed it doesn’t attract the sharks.
DAY 4 – Sunny skies, super hot, light sea breeze
Two contests dominated the minds of fleet. Marcus v Richie for first place, and Peter v Paul v Tim for third.
With light breeze forecast and an early start scheduled, a different group of sailors dominated the soft 5-8 north easterly. Richie and Marcus duked towards the pin while Tim started further up the line. Richie tacked out, Marcus followed to the right. Paul and Tim stayed left, and for once in the regatta, there was a right hand shift. However Paul was powered up and motoring in the light breeze. While Marcus narrowly crossed, Paul continued to the right hand side, where Wayne narrowly crossed him on the right hand layline. Paul tacked to follow Wayne into the mark, Marcus joined them from the left with Richie well back.
Down the run Paul began to run Wayne down, nipping at his transom at the gate. Marcus and Tim followed suite. Wayne and Paul worked the right hand side while Marcus and Tim elected to work the left, and the right hand side paid once more.
Paul pressured Wayne all the way to the finish line, with Wayne taking the win, Paul second. Marcus led a tight pack including Tim and Hayden Brown, who dead heated in joint fourth.
While it looked as though the breeze might freshen, it didn’t.
The race committee got the fleet underway. Paul won the pin and headed towards the left hand side of the course. Up the line, Peter started poorly and tacked off early, while Richie went as far left as the course allowed, with Marcus shadowing him. Paul tacked to consolidate his good start and started to work the right hand side of the course, while Peter went left to join Richie, Marcus and Tim on the left.
At the top mark Peter led into the mark, with Hayden Brown second, Tim in third. For some reason or other, Mustos always surprise you, and Tim’s vang cam and lever arms managed (somehow) to disconnect themselves during the upwind work, forcing him to drop out of the race to fix the problem.
Paul gybed through the middle of the course following the pressure to hit the lead. Marcus got through to second, Peter was third at the gate.
Paul and Marcus headed left and Peter headed right. A light shifty beat followed. Paul extended up the work to lead around the top mark for the last time. Marcus followed with Brett in third.
Paul took the win, with Brett in second, Marcus third.
The sea breeze refused to strengthen.
The fleet got away on the first try. Tim won the pin, tacked to consolidate and led to the first mark. Wayne hit the left hand corner to round second, Paul in third.
Tim maintained his lead to the gate and headed to the left hand side of the course. Paul got through Wayne to arrive in second. Wayne and Paul followed Tim out to the left.
The breeze faded a fraction, and Paul began to make inroads into Tim’s lead.
Tim set and gybed his way down the run, extending slightly from Paul and Wayne. Paul continued to close in, but ran out of course with Tim taking the win. Paul followed in second, Wayne in third.
Paul’s stellar 2,1,2 day pushed Tim off the podium and he claimed a well deserved 3rd overall. At the business end of the fleet, Marcus’ light weather acumen and heavy weather boat handling proved the difference. Richie put together a brilliant series, often leading by large margins in boisterous, windy conditions characterised by lanes of pressure and long, winding wind shifts.
Marcus wins the Australian Mustoskiff championship for the first time, Richie in second, Paul in third.
RESULTS HERE >>>>