Clarence River Sailing Club champions Dennis Boyd and Stephanie Jones sail their NS14 ’Chopper’ in Saturday’s series final.
Clarence River Sailing Club champions Dennis Boyd and Stephanie Jones sail their NS14 ’Chopper’ in Saturday’s series final.

Outsiders star in tough conditions

IN STARK contrast to the tranquil waters on which they were sailing, crews competing in the final heat of the Clarence River Sailing Club’s 2010-11 championship series engaged in an intense battle of wits and skill at Grafton on Saturday.

In a patchy and faltering breeze that was forever shifting, skippers had to draw on every ounce of their instincts and cunning in an attempt to get the better of their rivals.

The tricky conditions meant that detailed attention to boat and sail trim, along with a keen eye to spot the slightest patch of breeze were crucial.

A standard north-easterly course was set with the top mark off Miller Street followed by a downwind run to marks near the Convent and the South Services Club. Due to the light conditions only one lap was sailed.

A number of boats were becalmed on their way to the start and missed the gun, how-ever after some remarkable sailing most had caught the fleet by halfway along the first beat much to the surprise and consternation of their opponents.

On the otherwise sedate downwind return, a sudden and intense gust from the opposite direction jolted crews into a flurry of action as they hurried to get their boats under control and so avoid a swim.

In the Laser division the spotlight was on Karl Cooksley and Steve Russell, both of whom started the race with identical standings.

Despite a late start and an amazing capsize soon after, Russell shot to the front but was overhauled by outsider Neale Carter who sailed brilliantly in the fluky conditions.

Carter held on to win the event after a brief but determined challenge by Cooksley on the return passage.

Russell’s second-place finish was still enough to narrowly win him this year’s championship title.

An outsider also prevailed in the NS14 event.

Dennis Boyd and Stephanie Jones started the race in pole position with Peter Bond and Michael Martin close behind.

Both crews sailed nicely, using their wealth of experience to maintain boat speed during the many lulls in the wind.

However, backmarkers Greg Brotherson and Morgen Parkin managed to find breeze that no one else could, gliding to the front mid race then crossing the line in first place.

Boyd and Jones finished second to take out their division’s championship honours.

Racing is on again Saturday with more details available on the club’s website at www.crsc.yachting.org.au.

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