The return of Stodart
When injured crewman Greg Dixon was unable to sail the regatta, regular skipper Phillips moved to the sheet and recruited Stodart to steer Smeg, which is last year’s winning Gotta Love It 7 skiff.
Smeg crossed the line 31s ahead of Southern Cross Constructions (Euan Mc Nicol, Aaron Links and Trent Barnabas), with Active Air-2UE (Matthew Searle, Dan Wilsdon and Archie Massey) a further 20s back in third place.
Rain, overcast skies and a 8-10 knot easterly breeze made it critical for all teams to get a good start and so it was no surprise when there was a general recall at the first attempt. Immediately after the start, defending champion Seve Jarvin took Gotta Love It 7 to the RHS of the course along with Rag & Famish Hotel (John Harris) and Yandoo (John Winning). Stodart, Mc Nicol and John Winning Jr. (appliancesonline) went left into Athol Bay. When the two groups met the LHS had dominated with appliancesonline leading a tightly bunched group. Others challenging for the lead were Active Air-2UE, Project Racing (Andy Budgen), Smeg, Thurlow Fisher (Bruce Savage) and Southern Cross. Unknowingly, Thurlow Fisher had been recalled at the start and was subsequently recorded OCS.
Those on the right were well back. appliancesonline was under pressure from Active Air-2UE and Project Racing as they passed Shark Island on the work into the Rose Bay windward buoy. appliancesonline led narrowly from Project Racing as spinnakers were set, closely followed by Active Air-2UE, Smeg, Thurlow Fisher, Macquarie Real Estate (Micah Lane) and Southern Cross.
Andy Budgen's British team were superb downwind and gybed inside appliancesonline at the wing mark. Leading to the bottom mark their race fell apart when they took the Kurraba Point mark to port instead of a starboard rounding. Budgen went back to re-round, but unfortunately did it incorrectly and withdrew after the race.
Midway up the second windward leg back to Rose Bay, appliancesonline led clearly from Smeg, Southern Cross, Active Air - 2UE, Quantum Sails NZ (Chris Skinner), Macquarie Real Estate and Gotta Love 7.
A jib problem saw the talented Southern Cross team capsize on a tack 0 an incident that cost them any chance of a win. While all his rivals elected to sail a middle course Winning Jr. went further to the right. Smeg reduced the margin when they met shortly after then grabbed the lead off Shark Island. At the mark, they led by 10s from appliancesonline with Active Air-2UE just 5s further back in third place.
The Smeg lead eased out to 20s at the bottom mark the second time while Active Air-2UE also lost time to trail by a further 20s in third place. Southern Cross was fourth, 50s from the lead.
On the final windward leg, Smeg and Southern Cross tacked early while appliances and Active Air-2UE stayed on a starboard tack into Athol Bay. The move was a winner as Smeg increased her lead while Southern Cross narrowly led appliancesonline when they met. Smeg led by 35s from Southern Cross as they set their spinnaker for the run to the finish and was untroubled to hold the margin.