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6 January 2006, 02:35 pm
Brits Make Hay In Woollhara
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B14 Australian Championship 2006
Sydney, Australia

Superb conditions greeted the fleet for the start of the B14 Australian Championship with a 15-18 knot southeast breeze and blue skies just as the brochure advertised. With the Nationals acting as a Pre-Worlds competition was certainly fierce at Woollhara Sailing Club in Sydney.
With a heavy starboard bias on the line a large bunch of boats became rafted at the committee boat causing some grief! By the first windward mark Matt SEARLE and Andy RAMUS (GBR) on Gutted Hedgehog established a good lead which they held to the finish. Jamie MEARS and Matt GILL (GBR) on PICA were second at the top mark which they again held to the finish only to find that they had been a little keen off the start line.

Nils JOLLIFFE and Jonathon BRANCH (GBR) on Boatracer.co.uk had to jostle for third but eventually won out thanks to their superior downwind speed.

In race two, the start line had been squared up and the fleet pushed pretty hard forcing three to four boats over. With shifty conditions upwind there were plenty of place change opportunities but it was those who worked the right hand side of the course that came out on top. At the top mark Gutted Hedge had the top spot closely followed by James & Angus LUFFMAN (AUS) on Evil Empire and Clive WATTS and Chris DIXON (AUS) on CST composites.

These teams stayed on starboard gybe to take a great gust down the track and beat Gutted Hedgehog to the bottom mark. Jono PANK and Ritchie EDWARDS (GBR) on Ronstan in also joined the pack to complete the top four. The next lap saw a similar pattern with place changes up the beat and down the run but by the final beat Gutted Hedgehog established a good lead that they held to the finish followed by Ronstan, CST composites and Evil Empire.

Day two of the Nationals was sailed is a southeast five to ten knot breeze. The first face of the day was abandoned on the Harbour Master's instructions due to a Tanker sailing through the course. In race three the restart was under black flag and the line was square. The fleet split left and right. Out to the left Boatracer.co.uk led to the favoured left followed the plumbers, Mark BARNES and Tom PYGALL (GBR) on Readycrest and Ronstan.

During the race there were several place changes with the British contingent coming to the fore. Boatracer.co.uk held on to the lead though challenged on several occasions by different boats to win. Second was not so straight forward as a general cargo ship sailed through the course benefiting Gutted Hedgehog who finished second followed by Ronstan and Readycrest, who however were later OCS with eight other boats.

The second race of the day started in an eight knot breeze from the souteast. The race was to turn into a British convention with PICA taking the lead and holding it till the end to take the bullet. Readycrest worked their way through the fleet with Gutted Hedgehog but pipped them to second.

Day three brought classic conditions to Sydney Harbour with a northeast 15-20 knot breeze and grey skies. The first race of the day started in an 18-20 knot breeze. The line was bias to the pin with the fleet splitting to both left and right on the first beat. There was a pile up at the windward mark but all got away without any damage. The fleet converged on the windward mark and the top positions changed throughout the race with the Aussie contingent taking three of the top five places. Gutted Hedgehog won followed by Kieran LIVERMORE and Tim AUSTIN on BangBang, CST composites , Ronstan, and Marty JOHNSON and Mike HALKES (AUS) on Nerdwork.

Race six, and second race of the day started in 20 knots breeze from the southeast. The race started with a charge to the left and was to turn into another Brit convention with Gutted Hedgehog working their way through into the lead with the next four places highly contested. At the finish it was Gutted Hedgehog followed by Ronstan and Boatracer.co.uk.

The third race of the day started in an 15-18 knot breeze from the southeast. The race started with pin bias and a charge to the left was again dominated by the British teams with Gutted Hedgehog taking the win followed by Tim FELLS and Sean DWYER (GBR) on AT&T and PICA.

Race eight and Gutted Hedge had stamped their intentions on the event and had headed for the shore having won the event. The breeze had dropped slightly to about 15 knots. Don and Kate FORSTER on Minibus won the pin and sailed to the left corner and led round the first lap. Nerdwork at last came alive and overtook Minibus to never be seen again. This race developed into an Aussie convention with BangBang and CST composites taking the first three at the finish followed by the British convention.

The event was sailed in mixed conditions with Gutted Hedgehog worthy Open Champions with the Worlds boding well for them. The Aussie Champions were Nerdwork from CST Composites.

The Worlds start on the 9 January with the British Lloyds Register sponsored contingent holding the upper hand, but the Aussie fleet have closed the gap and are not to be discounted. Sailing is to be held between Rose, Chowder and Taylor's Bay.

Mark BARNES/Matt SEARLE (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The B14 in action:© www.n-d-k.com
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