BACKS INTO IT: Sailors battle the patchy conditions on the Clarence River at Grafton on Saturday.
BACKS INTO IT: Sailors battle the patchy conditions on the Clarence River at Grafton on Saturday.

Wind tests fleet

COMPETITORS in Saturday's Clarence River Sailing Club's final Warm Up Series event were kept busy with a patchy and constantly swinging north westerly breeze dominating the afternoon's sailing.

On the countdown to the start the breeze started to build nicely along with excitement levels at the prospect of some fast action.

However with only seconds to go it dropped to almost zero, leaving skippers the difficult task of crawling over the line against an incoming tide.

Similar conditions prevailed at the finish, however in between it blew hard at times, providing plenty of opportunities for the large fleet to enjoy some first class racing.

Numbers keep growing with 22 boats on the water in a diverse mix of classes, experience and ages.

The catamarans were again sent down river and the monohulls and juniors kept further upstream. Conditions were similar on all three courses however the cats experienced some frustrating wind shadows on the eastern side of Elizabeth Island.

A versatile Steve Russell took out the Laser division. After sailing an NS14 the week before, Russell quickly adapted back to single-handed sailing, catching and then overtaking a very determined Karl Cooksley who also put in a great effort on his first day back for the season. Debbie Parkin came in third after a brilliant run to the finish.

In the NS14s, Dennis Boyd and Matthew Parkin sailed consistently in the challenging breeze and took out first place.

Despite a difficult start the pair soon had their boat up to speed and crossed the line a whopping 11 minutes ahead of their rivals. Greg Brotherson and Morgen Parkin came in second with Neal Carter sailing a Pacer this week in third.

Hobie 18 sailors Bill Holton and Jeremy Vaughan were the standout performers in the catamaran division, completing the difficult course in an amazing one hour and nine minutes. Olympic and world champion contender Andrew Landenberger enjoyed a relaxed race in his A Class cat, taking out a comfortable second place with Tony Rose sailing an Arrow 14 and coming in third.

The junior Bic division was keenly contested with four enthusiastic youngsters fighting it out for the honours.

Only four seconds separated first and second placings with Andy Landenberger crossing the line just ahead of his rival Jack Hancock. Duncan and Odin Sage both put in great performances in the battle for third with Duncan eventually claiming the prize.

No sailing on the long weekend because of the Bridge to Bridge Ski Race but will resume on October 12.

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