Musto Skiff

ACO 9th MUSTO Skiff AUS Championship 2018 - Day 1

Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron (Melbourne, Australia)

Report by Andy Rice.

Melbourne’s Morris motors into an early MUSTO lead 

Brett Morris shocked even himself by winning the opening race of the ACO MUSTO Skiff Australian Championship on an extremely hot and sunny Saturday afternoon at Blairgowrie.

It’s only Morris’s second season in this tricky singlehanded skiff, but some recent secret Tuesday afternoon training sessions at his home club of Port Melbourne paid off today. “I tried to stay in the pressure and it seemed to work,” smiled Morris as he came ashore from a light airs race in hot northerly winds. “I can’t quite believe it, it just all seemed to come together.”

British competitor Jamie Hilton did his customary trick of taking the early lead. “The wind was oscillating quite regularly but I decided not to follow the herd,” said Hilton, who often finds himself at the front in the early stages of major MUSTO Skiff championships. “The start line was favoured to the pin end at start time, but I was pretty sure it was going to shift back to the right, so I started at the committee boat end. And about 40 seconds later it came back for me.”

Hilton led for most of the two lap windward-leeward course but just across Port Phillip Bay a new breeze was kicking in from the west, and the breeze changed direction massively on the final run to the finish. Hilton found himself on the wrong side while Morris pounced to take the winner’s gun ahead of fellow Aussies Wayne Bates and Richard Ekberg.

With the race committee aware of the big breeze about to arrive, they sent the fleet ashore. Most of the fleet made it but the straggler were hit by a sudden squall of 50 knots which toppled boats including perennial MUSTO Skiff competitor Tim Chapman from the UK. As his boat flipped upright from a capsize, his top mast broke above the hounds but Chapman made it safely ashore and appeared unfazed by the excitement. “It is one of those rare days I’d rather have been one of the gin palaces that were blasting around the Bay,” said Chapman, who has been in the MUSTO Skiff class from the very early days.

With the weather in the high 30s, it was oppressively hot and today’s wind was always predicted to be unpredictable. Sunday is the concluding day of the Australian Nationals, and then it’s day’s gap before the ACO MUSTO Skiff World Championships begin on Tuesday. The weather is set to cool and the wind is forecast to be steadier and much better for good racing.

This evening the sailors enjoyed some barbecue sausages and beer at Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron, having tied down their boats in the expectation of a strong overnight breeze. 

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