With the 12 foot skiff Upper Harbour and Parramatta Championships done and dusted, all skiffies focus is on the Your Move Conveyancing NSW Championship to start on Sydney Harbour later this month – and the all-important Interdominion in January.
In the lead up to the NSW Championship, a six-race series to be held over two weekends of December, every sailor worth his salt is fine tuning and sizing up the competition via local club races each weekend.
Organised by the NSW 12ft Sailing Skiff Association in conjunction with the Sydney Flying Squadron (host for the opening weekend) and Lane Cove 12ft Sailing Skiff Club (host of the following weekend), all eyes are expected to be on the running battle between Nick Press/Andrew Hay (Sydney Sailmakers) and Brett Hobson/Jeremy Jones (Geotherm).
So far, Hobson/Jones have come off second best at the majors, but Hobson is determined to overcome the weekly challenges he faces against Press/Hay.
“It is a bit demoralising, but it keeps you trying,” Hobson concedes. “We beat them in all three races last weekend, but to be fair, Nick broke a trapeze wire in one and capsized.”
Geotherm is undoubtedly quick upwind, but Hobson agrees that Press has the upper hand downwind: “I always thought I was pretty good downwind, but he’s a little better.
“With Nick, you can’t make any mistakes – and you have to be on your game all the time. He doesn’t leave anything to chance,” Hobson admits of his Gladesville nemesis.
“You have to continually tune your boat to improve. Nick works very hard and keeps the boat beautifully. His new boat has been going brilliantly since he got it.”
The Killara sailor says other commitments mean he and Jones (the son of Richard Jones who crew’s for Jono Temple on LCC Asia Pacific) are not sailing as much he would like to in the lead up.
“But we’ve got a couple of new sails and we’re trying to get the boat quicker. We’re sailing once a week, but would love it to be twice. We’re club racing out of the Squaddy (Sydney Flying Squadron at Kirribilli). We’ve done a couple of short races which have been enjoyable – and at the same time we’re trying to maximise benefits ahead of the States.
“This is our second year together (with Jeremy) he sailed Cherubs before now – he’s 21 and enthusiastic, a keeper – so that’s half the battle.”
But they are not the only two in the money. Hobson says another member of the ‘Press gang’ as the Press family is known, Nick’s father Murray and crew, Scott Lanham (Southport Sails) keep everyone on their toes.
“I see Ben Austin and Robbie Polec (Skoll) as potential winners. Ben’s a bloody good sailor. He’s sailed 14’s regularly and 12s intermittently – he’s been round the traps for a while. He only started full time this season, standing in for Robbie’s father (Peter Polec), but he’s getting better and better.”
A further wildcard would be Pete Nicholson/Mark Muirhead (Red Rocket) who have developed and are coming good at the right time.
Others gearing up to take part include LCC Asia Pacific, Arrogant Frog (Peter and Steve Hill), Maersk (Adam Forbes/Ben Gemmell), The Bird (Jamie McCrudden/Glenn Farquhar), Chapman High Performance Sailing (Jack Winning/Brett Phillips) and Your Move Conveyancing (Dave Winning/Joe Bourne).
Spectators and welcome on the water or on land, where the best vantage points are Bradley’s Head for the first weekend of racing and Clarke’s Point at Hunters Hill for the second weekend.
Up to 35 boats are expected to take part in the Your Move Conveyancing NSW Championship for the Morna Cup, ahead of the Interdominion when they will face their Queensland and Kiwi counterparts for the major crown in 12 foot skiff sailing.
By Di Pearson, 12ft skiff media