Following on from his win at the Victorian B14 Championship, Guy Bancroft and his 15 year-old son, Rhys, sailing Bugger the Bone, have outsailed their counterparts to take out the B14 Australian National Championship.
The Championship, which finished last night, boasted a field of 34 competitors, 28 of those eligible for the Championship, the remaining six here from the United Kingdom to contest the World Championship hosted by McCrae YC and starting on Port Phillip Bay from January 5-11.
Bancroft, current Commodore of McCrae YC, and a former I14 sailor, and his son, paired up in the double-handed asymmetrical kited B14 skiff for the first time in May last year, and appear to be unstoppable in their quest for the World Title.
They will have to work hard to beat the U.K. teams, including that of hot favourites, Tim Fells/Dave Cunningham sailing NA4, who finished the Championships two points ahead of the Bancroft combination, but were ineligible for the title.
The National's were sailed in light northerly breezes, no sign of the normally predominant south-westers in sight. However, Bancroft said they could handle the heavier winds expected for the Worlds.
Speaking of his win, Bancroft said, 'we bought the boat second-hand, and what helps is sailing on home waters, we get plenty of support from our Club, it's terrific. We expected to finish in a top-five spot, but this is just great. Rhys is a very mature sailor for his age, and gives me a lot of input on the race track'
Rhys, who has progressed from a Flying Ant commented, 'this is pretty special, it hasn't really sunk in yet, but it's good fun sailing with Dad, I've really learned a lot, and the B14 is a challenge to sail.'
Asked to about the name of his boat, Bancroft explained, 'my boats have always had the word 'Bone' in them, and when I bought this boat it was called 'Bugger', and Mum said it was bad luck to change a boat's name, so I came up with Bugger the Bone, and it has created a bit of interest in the class.'
On hand to help the pair celebrate were Bancroft's parents - his father Frank, a Life Member at McCrae, and former Commodore - the first father/son combination to hold this role at the Club.
Coming home second in the Championship was the ever improving female pairing from Woollahra S.C. in Sydney of Abby Parkes/Sophie Hunt, sailing Hunt Leather, with fellow club members, Richie Reynolds/Lissa McMillan sailing The Nude, in third place.
Parkes and Hunt, who met sailing in an all girl crew in the Sydney-Hobart race, are starting to make an impact in the B14, their results getting progressively better, while Lissa McMillan has only been sailing a short time, but says, 'I really do love it, the camaraderie is fabulous in the B14's, and it is a skiff class with a lot of female sailors who do really well against the blokes, we'd love to see a few more girls join us,' she said.
While the United Kingdom may have had it all their own way in the past, results from these National's show the Aussies have picked up the pace and may prove a big danger to the Poms at the Worlds.
Entries for the Worlds, numbering around 35, come from Victoria, NSW and Tasmania, with six U.K. competitors, including equal hot favourites, Tim Fells/Dave Cunningham and Jono Pank/ Shaun Barber.
Fells, arguably the most consistent B14 sailor, with a 2-1-2 record at the last three World championships, has teamed with Cunningham in an effort to regain the title he won in Sydney three years ago.
Pank, who steered his way to a 6th place at the last World Titles in Italy in 2002, has paired with Barber, the current World title holding crew. Sailing NA25, they finished these Nationals in 8th place, giving the Aussies more confidence.
Former National and NSW State champions, Paul Hansen/James Ellis, (Gosford SC), sailing Priority Powder Coating, finished the series in 5th place, and are hoping for a windy World series - their preferred conditions.