Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wild And Woolly - 2013 Australian Formula 18 National Championships - Day 1

In a day of thrills and spills at the 2013 Australian Formula 18 National Championships, young guns Jason Waterhouse and Brett Goodall displayed remarkable maturity and consistency to take the lead after three races.
Josh McKnight and Nina Curtis     Photo:Mark Rothfield
The pair posted a first and two seconds to gain a four-point advantage over the equally consistent Western Australian crew of Brett Burvill/Ryan Duffield (three thirds) and Queenslanders Mick Guinea/Viv Haydon.
Jason Waterhouse and Brett Goodall        Photo: Mark Rothfield
Waterhouse and Goodall were satisfied with their effort as they gave away considerable kilos to some of their opponents in a breeze that left competitors in an Australia daze.

"They were tough conditions out there," Waterhouse said. "In the last race in particular we saw one of our main competitors go over in a classic way and we realised we just had to keep the pointy end up."

Some of the better known sailors in the star-studded fleet including Olympic, America’s Cup and world champion sailors had costly boat handling lapses as a classic Australia Day nor-easter generated a short chop at Mannering Park on Lake Macquarie NSW.
Photo: Mark Rothfield
The championship started with the conspicuous absence of one of its biggest names, Steve Brewin, who was seriously injured in a collision while training on Friday afternoon. The two-time A-Class world champion was rushed to nearby Gosford Hospital, suffering a broken pelvis, and remains under observation.
Paul Raymond/James Clark (WA)  on the edge of control   Photo: Mark Rothfield
He was struck by the starboard bow of a Nacra Infusion sailed by a crew from Oman, which was running at high speed under spinnaker. Brewin’s boat was sailing upwind, with his brother Chris at the helm.

The first heat began in 12 knots, gusting to 15, and Jason Waterhouse and Brett Goodall blasted away from a tightly contested start to lead the 36-boat fleet around the top mark. Sailing a new C2 designed and built by Brett’s father, Greg Goodall, they showed a clean set of transoms to Victorians Adam Beattie and Jamie Leitner on a Nacra.
Sean Langman about to take an unplanned swim in Race 3 Photo: Mark Rothfield

Adjusting quickly to their chartered Windrush Edge, Italians Matteo Ferraglia and Lorenzo Blahchitii were third over the line, only to find they’d been adjudged OCS at the start. The Windrush sistership sailed by Burvill and Duffield flew downwind on the last leg to take the last podium spot.

It was a baptism of fire for the newly formed glamour crew of 2012 World Moth Champion Josh McKnight and Olympic match racing silver medallist Nina Curtis, who had a late start and an unscheduled dunking on the way to finishing 22nd in Heat 1.

The whitecaps began building ominously for Heat 2 and it was the Beattie/Leitner combination that led from start to finish. Waterhouse and Goodall were buried but eventually found a passing lane upwind and grabbed a hard-earned second place, from Burvill/Duffield and the fast-finishing Italians.

With F18 racing having a 22-knot limit for racing, the race committee measured 21 knots when Heat 3 got underway but the seabreeze soon filled in to well beyond that. The top boats were flying upwind at 14 knots and peaking at 25 knots on the spinnaker legs, but there were white knuckles on tillers and sheets as the boats bore away from the top mark.

Beattie nosedived while rounding in second place and was soon in good company, being joined by Adam Beashel, Sean Langman and Ferraglia, among others. Guinea and Haydon had the luxury of sailing conservatively as their rivals bit the dust, and they took the gun from Waterhouse/Goodall.

Sean Langman, who is preparing an Orma 60 trimaran for a tilt at the Sydney-Hobart race record, said there was mainly ‘ego damage’ when he was flung forward on trapeze during his capsize then watched as the boat drifted away.

“Our expectations weren’t that high. We just wanted to finish the races but we didn’t finish the last one. The boat left us," Langman said. "I’m learning, learning, learning – the competitive spirit is there, and having to adjust is the fascination for me. I love the challenge."

The big improvers were McKnight and Curtis, who grabbed their second consecutive seventh placing in Heat 3 to move into the top 10 overall.

"It was fast and furious, but I’m having a lot of fun," Curtis said. "We’re a new team and I’m new to the class so we’re really happy."

McKnight added that the day had a ticked a few boxes, including their first capsize. "We have a few things to fix and change, so it’s not all bad news," he said. "The conditions were probably at the limit for the class but the Capricorn felt super stiff and very strong, and downwind it’s a weapon."

For another Olympian, Laser sailor Krystal Weir, her day was over when she fell through the mainsail during a capsize. Soon afterwards, it was a relief to most competitors when racing was abandoned for the rest of the day.

Racing in the 2013 Australian Formula 18 National Championships, which is sponsored by John Cootes Furniture Warehouse, is scheduled to begin at around 10am on Sunday, although strong winds are again forecast.

For full results>>>

Mark Rothfield

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