2012 Tasmanian Mirror Championships – 'The Girls' make it six in a row

Jess & Kath taking it easy between races - 2012 Tasmanian Mirror Championships
Rob Cruse
A healthy fleet of 16 Mirror dinghies from across Tasmania competed in the Tasmanian Championships at the Montrose Bay Yacht Club on the 17th and 18th March in winds which varied widely in both strength and direction making a real challenge for both sailors and the race committee.

One race was abandoned due to the wind failing after one lap of the three lap course had been completed, and the last of the eight races was shortened after the wind died, with some boats failing to get across even the shortened course due to the adverse fast flowing current. The races were closely contested and even seemingly safe leads were quickly eroded as boats sailed into the many windless holes which allowed the following boats to catch up and sometimes pass the early leaders.

There was added interest for crews, officials and spectators as the championships were sailed under a 'yardstick' system for the first time ever. The more modern Bermudan rigged Mirrors were penalised by around one second per minute of elapsed time compared to the traditional Gunter (Gaff) rigged Mirrors. This did change several results with the first boat over the line in three races not surviving the yardstick adjustment without losing the top spot. There were also yardstick adjustments throughout the fleet. For the sailors who up until now have been able to simply cover boats behind them to win, it was a challenge to decide whether to cover trailing Gunter rigged boats, or whether to try to increase the time gap – a bit like the keel boat races such as the Sydney to Hobart race! For the spectators, it was a case of relying on stop watches and noting the time gaps to predict the net results.

Jessie Atherton and Katherine Maher ('the girls') in their trusty 21 year old Bermudan rigged Kamikaze sailed a very consistent series finishing (after yardstick adjustments) with four firsts, three seconds and a third to finish with a net 8 points after two drops, hence winning by 9 points from Matt Schofield and Samuel Asky-Doran in Pukeko who also sailed well taking podium positions in 4 of the 8 races. Pukeko was the first of the Gunter rigged Mirrors. Montrose sailors Ken Barnes and Alex Kingsley sailing the GRP Mark III Bermudan rigged Mirror Storefresh sailed very well at times with two heat wins, but struggled for consistency finishing a single point points back to take third place. Storefresh was challenging for the lead in Race 4 when Ken went overboard after a tack and they subsequently capsized and ended up a non finisher in that race. Jenny Graney and Maddie Howell in Carpe Diem were a solitary point behind in fourth overall.

'The Girls' created a bit of Tasmanian Mirror history by claiming the Tasmanian Championship for the sixth consecutive time, a feat not previously achieved in almost five decades of the championships. Steve McElwee won five in a row in the early nineties with a variety of crews.

There was generally close racing throughout the fleet, which resulted in numerous close calls at mark roundings, and several 'contacts' occurred with Jacob and Steve Smith in The Edge being holed above the waterline in the last race on Saturday and not competing on the second day. Jai McKay and Eremaya Albrecht in Shadowfax were towed in after breaking a tiller in race two but were quickly back out competing with a borrowed replacement.

Perhaps the surprise of the series was the performance of class newcomers Marcus McKay and Ruby Smillie in Sky III who sailed well to take a win on yardstick in Race 2 and finishing in fifth place overall.

There were pleasing numbers of juniors throughout the fleet, with the usual camaraderie of the Mirror class encouraging all sailors to learn and increase their sailing abilities. The Australian Championships are being held at the Montrose Bay Yacht Club and the end of the year, providing an added incentive for Mirror sailors to improve their skills in preparation.