NSW Sabot Championship - Predator eats competition to reign supreme

Finn Gilbert shows Kurt Hansen the way to the finish line on day 3 of the NSW Sabot Championships 2011
Paul Summerell
NSW Sabot Championship - A veteran boat with a not too flash sail named Predator ate up the competition to reign supreme.

Finn Gilbert, 13, of Hunters Hill Sailing Club, proved it’s mostly about the skill of the skipper by winning six of the eight races over two weekends in the same boat his brother Paddy won states in two years ago.

The championship, which was held in light breeze, started at Toronto on Lake Macquarie two weeks ago and wound up at Wangi Wangi last weekend.

Finn's performance in a field of 41 was made more impressive by the fact he was steering a Sabot in his first season.

'Before that I crewed for about three years with Dad and my brother in F11s and Mirrors,' he said.

'It's pretty crazy, I didn't expect it at all, Dad is really proud,' said the Pittwater House, Colloroy student.

Despite his dominance, Finn was quick to point out that runner-up Kurt Hansen, 14, of Gosford, was always on his hammer in Top Gear.

'I only just won three of the races by a narrow margin from Kurt, it was really close,' he said.

Kurt's clubmate, last year's runner-up Matt Lang, finished third overall and on a high by nailing the final race in Slippery Little Sucker.

Meanwhile Victorian visitor Daniel Quinlan in Tiger Bite made the double interstate trip worthwhile by finishing fourth on points overall and announcing his intentions for the upcoming nationals.

Winners are Grinners for Adele and Tahlia Phillips Junior winners of the NSW Sabot Championships 2011
Paul Summerell

Meanwhile in the two-up juniors division it was a tale of put it behind you and never look back for sisters Adele, 12, and Tahlia Phillips, 9, from Drummoyne. They buried two early setbacks to win five of the next six races in Back in Action.

'It's pretty awesome,' said Adele. 'Last year we got second sailing together but we weren't expecting it after getting a third and fourth in the first two races. Both girls attend Drummoyne Public School.

'The wind was good but we prefer it to be windier,' Adele said. A bit more sting in the tail of the breeze would also have been preferred by early leaders Jed Fatches and Blake Crowley in Raging Bull Ant from the host club who finished third overall behind Lane Cove's Henry Larnings and Eve Peel in Gone in 60 Seconds. Another highlight in the juniors was a win in the penultimate race by Andrea Davey and Jessica Swadling from Lane Cove (fifth overall) and handicap honours for Grace and Cassie Banks from Vaucluse.

Handicap honours in seniors went to Ben Field of Hunters Hill in Fast n Furious.

Other top-10 highlights in seniors were Catherin Pagett (fourth, best place second), Sophie McIntosh (fifth, best third), Dana Tavener (sixth, best fourth), Ben Field (seventh, best third), Samantha Gray (eighth, best second) and Jordan Makin (ninth, best third). Many others gained valuable big fleet experience and were not too far off the pace.

Many of the sailors are now looking forward to attending the national championships to be held at Southport, Queensland, just after Christmas.

Another Sabot item for the diary is a two-day training camp Nathan Outerridge's home club Wangi with the emphasis on fun rather than competition on March 10-11. Competitors will be welcome to join in a youth regatta for multiple classes on the Sunday of that weekend.

2011 NSW Sabot Champion Finn Gilbert
Paul Summerell