Day 1 of the Petuna and Bell Bay Aluminium B14 Open Australian Nationals at Beauty Point in Bell Bay, Northern Tasmania, the fleet were greeted by a NNW force 3 – 4, flat water, wall to wall sunshine and 28 C. Who would have the upper hand, the locals or the Pommies in the warm up to the main show next week.
One thing was certain, it was going to be a close fought event. First out of the traps were the Aussie team in Rocketship (AUS - Nick Richardson/Adrian Beswick) giving a master class in local knowledge and raw speed for the conditions. A number of the front runners pushed the left hand side a bit to hard and clipped the bar, so pushing them back a bit. At the finish the Aussies had it with a photo finish (1 second) between the first Pommies Team Harken (GBR - Nick Craig/Tobby Lewis) and Team GUL/North Sails (GBR - Barnsie/Lauren Keil) in 6 and 7, with the result going to the prior.
Race 2 and more of the same, but this time with a guard boat on the bar, it was all to play for. Top dog in this one would again coming from the left being Bonus (AUS - Bangers/Louis Chapman), squeezing through the swarm of starboard tackers heading into Inspection Head Wharf, Port Dalrymple, providing grandstand viewing for the spectators on the shore. Over the race Bonus got richer, as the next 4 compressed and had their own battle coming into the finish with seconds between them at the line. Top Pommy was Team GUL/North Sails in 4.
Race 3 and moving the course more up into Bell Bay as the breeze steadied and depth of water in the upper bay increased as the tide came in, battle royal recommenced. This time it was to be another Rocketship fest, with Team Harken hot on their heels, followed by local team The Hitcher (AUS - Robbie Hunt/Ben Price). These three had their own battle, whilst a tight compact group behind led by Team GUL/North Sails were having a right old ding dong going into the last round. The front three remained in formation to the finish, but the following group saw some changes. Team GUL/North Sails in going for leverage upwind on the group, lost 2 places in a very tight rounding to the finish, where pressure lines proved king, especially downwind as Pinky and the Brain (AUS – Kirtsy Gray/Julian Salter) proved by ripping round the group in their own pressure to finish 5th.
On arriving ashore, the Crew’s Union kangaroo court was convened and warning penalties handed down on the first day. More severe penalties will be handed down on day 2.
Day 1 to the Aussies with Rocketship 1, Snatch (Craing Garmston/Nick Darlow) 2, equal 3 Bonus/The Hitcher, Team GUL/North Sails 5 and Team Harken 6
With a few swimmers during the day and stories to be told of how it could have been if only, the fleet retired to the Tamar Cove restaurant for their first of the Nats/Worlds tour of our sponsor’s eateries. The big issue looks like how will we retain our sleek physics with so many great meals, great wine and beer to be experienced here in the NE of Tassie
Tomorrow looks to be slightly windier with some cloud cover and very tight racing. Who will reign supreme will depend on whether the heavier teams grind it out or light stealth teams get the jump. One thing is for certain, there will be many teams arriving ashore with grins from ear to ear at the end of the day