Heavyweight skippers show out

With the strong winds easing dramatically as start time approached for the Stawell Yacht Club's third pennant race at Lake Fyans last Sunday, sailors scurried to get on the water before the breeze dropped out altogether.

As it turned out, they need not have worried because the weather Gods had plenty in store for them over the following hour or so.

The north-westerly proved quite ferocious at times, averaging about 30km/h but gusting up to 52km/h in frequent squalls.

As a result the heavyweight skippers once again fared better, with Johno Knight adding an impressive all-the-way win to his growing tally, crossing the line more than seven minutes ahead of the nearest boat.

Jan Ibs von Seht was in touch with Knight in the early stages of the race, but gradually lost contact, spending most of the event in the wake of a 125, which is normally a slower boat, but helmed very successfully by catamaran sailor Ross Bennett with his partner Bridget as crew.

Ibs von Seht put paid to his chances when he gybed in a nasty gust of wind and capsized, but gained valuable points in the annual Titanic award.

He managed to recover, but meanwhile one of the heavyweight skippers in the field, Peter Knight in another Impulse, capitalised on his misfortune by slipping past into third position.

The squally gust continued for the duration of the next leg giving sailors a wild and adrenalin boosted downwind ride.

Ibs von Seht managed to regain his position on the last upwind work, but Knight again caught him at the windward mark and managed to prevail on the broad reach to finish just half a metre ahead as they crossed the line side by side and close behind the 125.

This group was followed by the fifth placed Impulse of George Grellet, who uncharacteristically felt hampered by the conditions and later expressed frustration at not having gained maximum drive from his dinghy in the gusts.

Club commodore, Tony Hillier teamed with Roger Spratt on a club 125, but did not finish the course.

Trailer sailer skipper Leigh Edwards was unable to launch his boat in the beach shallows, so volunteered to man the committee boat for the event.

Luckily for a pair of fishermen on the lake at the time, Leigh was able to tow their disabled tinnie to shore after their motor failed and one of the oars disintegrated, otherwise they may have still been there on Monday.

Handicap Results: 1st - Johno Knight; 2nd - Peter Knight; 3rd - Ross Bennett.

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