Breeze makes plain sailing taxing
DESPITE forecasts of a brisk southerly wind, it didn't arrive until minutes before the race finish for Clarence River Sailing Club members sailing the second last heat of the 2010-11 Club Pointscore event.
As a result, the bulk of the race was sailed in a light and highly variable easterly breeze that taxed competitors' light weather sailing skills.
The strong incoming tide also had to be factored into crews' tactics to maximise boat speed.
The first leg saw plenty of action as the fleet settled into the conditions and looked for every opportunity to edge in front of their competitors.
However, on the first return all advantages were lost as boats locked into a line stretching across the river.
This trend was repeated throughout the race with every boat alternately gaining and then losing ground as the conditions changed. As a result, crews were rewarded with some of the most competitive racing of the season along with razor edge finishes and a glorious autumn afternoon on the mighty Clarence.
The laser division's Steve Russell eventually took out the day's honours despite being pushed at every stage of the race and having to regularly fight his way back to the lead each time he was overtaken. Coming in second place was Karl Cooksley.
The battle for third was intense with a three-way contest between Debbie Parkin, Neal Carter and Peter Zietsch.
All three were level on the final sprint to the line when each skipper gambled on a slightly different tactic to get them over first.
In the end, Zietsch's decision to go up the middle of the river paid off getting him across just six seconds ahead of Carter after nearly two hours racing. Parkin, using a full rig sail for the first time, handled it nicely, finishing just 20 seconds later.
For the second week in a succession, NS14 pair Greg Brotherson and Morgen Parkin demonstrated their mastery of light air-sailing with a dazzling win in both their division and across the fleet as a whole.
Great teamwork, steady boat-handling and a keen eye for the slightest change in wind speed or direction kept them well ahead of the pack right from the starter's gun until they crossed the finish line a full six minutes ahead of their closest rival.
Coming in second, Dennis Boyd and Stephanie Jones sailed well in the difficult conditions and had the breeze kicked in earlier would have been a strong contender for line honours.
Next week is the last race of the season.