Garde (Brett Hobson and Brad Phillips) seized control of the 2012 Lincoln Crowne State Championships after winning all 3 heats of the 1st weekends racing.
Heat 1 was sailed in a light Northerly breeze. All skiffs elected the big rigs for the afternoons long race. Geotherm, Skiff.org.au and Variety all got great starts and looked to lead the fleet early on. Garde and LCC hit the right side of the course and found some Northerly pressure to get to the lead, and round the top mark in that order.
Variety and Geotherm dropped off the pace nearer the top mark, allowing Gemmell Sails to round ahead. Rounding Shark Island was a little tighter than expected, with a slight shift to the east, and caused the top 3 boats to bunch right up. Up the next work, LCC picked a better shift to get ahead of Garde, with both skiffs rounding the top mark simultaneously. Gemmell Sails held 3rd place though had lost some time to the leaders.
An outgoing ship split the two leaders, with Garde going west and LCC going east; the split favoured Garde, letting them reach the bottom mark (and shortened course finish) first. Geotherm recovered well to pick up 4th place, with Variety 5th and skiff.org.au 6th. A mid to top end 2nd rig southerly blessed the race course for heats 2 and 3.
Geotherm blitzed the start and the first work to lead the fleet early on, from Garde, Gemmell and LCC. Garde hit the lead down the run, LCC rounded the bottom mark just inside Geotherm for 2nd place, before breaking their tiller and capsizing.
Geotherm caught Garde and threatened the lead before a Port Starboard altercation between the two saw them slip back to the clutches of Gemmell Sails. On the final work into Rose Bay, Geotherm went to the south of Shark Island to put time on Gemmell who went to the north. Garde maintained their lead to cross the line first, Geotherm second, Gemmell Sails third. Just behind the leading pack a battle emerged with Vantage Real Estate leading a group of boats including Hey Charger, Madonna, Skiff.Org and Hood Sails. Shark Island split this group up the last work too but Vantage Real Estate had the speed to take a deserved 4th place.
2nd race start of the day Sunday, Lincoln Crowne at the start with a tied up broken tiller, Garde got a jump on the fleet off the start line in despite Hood Sails crossing the fleet with a brave port tack start. LCC tiller repair failed at the first tack, forcing them to retire. Garde stretched their advantage down the first run to establish a commanding lead. It was a group of Lane Cove boats that lead the chase for Garde with Gemmell Sails leading from David Winning in Madonna and Jack Winning in Vantage Real Estate. The breeze had eased a little but harbour traffic played a part as the skiffs criss-crossed the harbour. A few skiffs chose to risk the shallows around Shark Island on the run down to Taylor’s Bay but no one would get close to Brett Hobson and Brad Phillips in Garde. Gemmell Sails would take second again in front of David Winning in Madonna.
Hood Sails blitzed the handicap series over the weekend with good sailing especially in the fresher breeze on day 2.
With a forecast building nor’easter, all bar a few skiffs elected for the 3rd rigs. It would turn out the right call as the breeze got in and was gusty, reminiscent of a few heats of the
interdominions 2 years ago at Lane Cove. Right from the start two skiff in Gemmell Sails (Murray Press with stand in crew, and son, Nick) and Geotherm (Scott Hobson and Mitch Deane) got a small jump on the fleet. Lincoln Crowne and Variety not far behind them, the former skiff lagging slightly after a port & starboard altercation with Garde soon after the start.
The rest of the pack were all mixed together heading down the river, consisting of Vantage Real Estate, Hey Charger and Vintage.
Once out of the river, Gemmell and Geotherm extended their lead on the fleet. Vantage Real Estate had an early capsize on a strong gust, Vintage and Garde gained on Variety after they were forced to drop their kite to round Clarkes point.
At the bottom mark, the top three remained unchanged, Gemmell, Geotherm and LCC, and Garde getting past Variety. By the top mark at Manns Point, Gemmell still held the lead, but LCC had now overtaken Geotherm, Garde holding 4th.
Down to the bottom mark again, and Garde overtakes Geotherm. The breeze starting to get very wild at times with many skiffs retiring due to damage. Vantage with a broken rudder fitting and Hey Charger breaking a mast in 4 places and Variety also retiring while in 5th place.
The next leg of the race was a hairy two sail across Cockatoo Island from Valentia Street Wharf to Cove Street. Garde had just got by LCC, both skiffs electing to use their spinnakers early on to gain some time on Gemmell. Both were forced to pull the spinnakers back down again to pass the island.
The top 4 positions remained the same for the next lap. Arrogant Frog (Peter and Steve Hill) and Madonna (Dave Winning and Pete Bevis) were making their way through the fleet, and damaged boats, after both having bad starts. Now holding positions 5th and 6th respectively.
Garde gained more time on Gemmell on the next downwind, bringing more breeze with them that Gemmell missed. Up the next work, Garde overtook Gemmell and held a lead at the final top mark.
The breeze continued to freshen and clock to the North. This forced Garde to drop their spinnaker around Cockatoo island, Gemmell were able to hold, pass Garde and again lead the fleet.
LCC were a comfortable 3rd, 2min back, and Geotherm a few minutes further back in 4th. Gemmell led Garde back into the river for the finish, only 10 seconds separating the two. A thrilling finish was on the cards until a rushed tack on board Gemmell caused a capsize, handing the victory to Garde.
Garde (Brett Hobson & Brad Phillips) took out the State Championships on Sunday, winning heat 5 and not needing to sail heat 6.
Heat 5 was delayed on shore for 40 minutes to let the 30-40knot southerly settle in. Garde lead up the first work and mark rounding, closely followed by Lincoln Crowne and Gemmell Sails.Both the latter skiffs came to grief on the downwind leg, allowing Garde to get away, and Geotherm to come through to second place. Arrogant Frog sailed a great race to finish 3rd, pressuring for 2nd place midway around the track. Lincoln Crowne chased hard on the last leg and gained on Arrogant Frog, but remained in 4th place. Gemmell Sails retired after breaking both tiller extensions and both crew members.
Only 5 boats made it to the start of heat 6, with the breeze kicking in again. Lincoln Crowne led the charge up the first work, from Gemmell Sail with stand in Skipper and Crew (Nick Press and Dan Phillips). Most skiffs capsized once or twice on the work in the strong gusts. Variety were running in third place before coming unstuck on a jibe leading out of the bay. Geotherm and Hey Charger were both forced to down spinnakers to get around Cabaritta Marine and lost time on the leaders.
The course was shortened at the next mark, with instructions to proceed to the finish. Gemmell Sails snuck through Lincoln Crowne with a wind shift on the last leg just before the finish to steal the victory.
Geotherm picked up a third to cap off a great series (and won the handicap), Hey Charger 4th and Variety 5th.
Overall places were Garde 1st, Gemmell Sails (with stand-in skipper & crew for the last heat) 2nd, Geotherm 3rd & Lincoln Crowne & Company (carrying a did-not-finish from the broken tiller) 4th.