On the first day of the Sports Boats Nationals, Saturday, the 12th of November 2016, the race area off Clearwater Bay was experiencing 1.5-metre swells and a 6-knot breeze, occasionally 10 knots. The fleet consisted of a GP26, two J-70s and eight Magic 25s.
Merlin set an early and convincing lead, but a man overboard cost the race, and two J-70s, San Long and Tuco, took a deserved 1st and 2nd respectively. Race 2 saw R2B2 in front, racing closely with Merlin until yet another trapeze wire broke. Merlin dropped to 5th with R2B2 taking the win, and — amazingly — an absolute dead heat for 2nd between the J70s.
Winds lightening, Race 3 was a classic: Dion Houghton and Steve Bourne in a head-to-head battle. The final run proved most exciting with Steve rolling Dion as his spinnaker went in the water. Dion recovered in time to make Merlin broach, and stretch away. Merlin caught up with 100 yards to go, managing in the lighter breeze to work lower and faster, breaking through the lee of R2B2 to win by just 7 seconds. Sam Levine raced well taking 3rd ahead of Catch 22.
The final race saw R2B2 win with Merlin recovering to 2nd place, Carter pipping Tuco for 3rd.
Day 2, Saturday, the 19th of November 2016, of the championships was held out of Shelter Cove in a Force 3 northeasterly.
Race 5 in the series had an exciting start with San Long OCS, and Tuco luffing R2B2 and, in turn, squeezing Merlin out of the line. It took some time for Merlin to get back up with the leaders but the gap was eventually closed to 10 seconds behind R2B2. Tiffany Khoo was getting used to Carter and came
Discards in play in Race 6, R2B2 just stamped their authority on the regatta with another win ahead of Carter. Tuco beat San Loong to stay high on the leader board.
The RO next set a three-lap course; R2B2 pipped Merlin by 11 seconds showing how evenly matched these two boats were. San Long beat Tuco by just 6 seconds, and the front four separated by 40 seconds which shows SMS is a brilliant rating system.
Finally Havoc lead the first lap and, at the rounding, R2B2 came screaming in on a fast reach and luffed Merlin so as to just gain clear ahead at the mark forcing Merlin outside. But Merlin recovered to sit to windward of the other two. Havoc tacked, causing both the Magics to crash tack and Merlin suffered yet another man overboard!
Congratulations to Dion Houghton and his team of Mark Collins, Matt Curthoys and Jonathan Fung on R2B2. Dion said: “It was nice to just helm! The others took care
of tactics and sail trim.”
This high level of teamwork really showed and, in tight situations, their levels of skill really made a difference. Worthy champions indeed counting straight bullets.
Steve Bourne was 2nd; bridesmaid for the 15th year in a row. Last year’s champion, Dan Tulberg, and the Tuco team eventually had two points on San Long (Leven / Teasel / Crawford) followed by the Carter team, who unfortunately retired in the last
Havoc was awarded ‘Most Improved Boat of the Series’ and an impromptu ceremony had Cem Yurdum packed up in his new Sails