Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Russell Blitzes Laser Field; Sailing Club Moves into First Heat of Pointscore Series

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Russell Blitzes Laser Field; Sailing Club Moves into First Heat of Pointscore Series

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Zietsch Clarence River Sailing Club

RACING shifted up a gear on Saturday, with crews competing in the first heat of the club pointscore.

Unlike the warm-up series just completed, all results now count towards overall club standings and resulted in some determined sailing.

A fleet of 12 boats contested the event in a demanding east-south-easterly breeze that never stopped shifting throughout the race.

Although frustrating at times, these conditions provide great opportunities for vigilant skippers to get the edge on their opponents by anticipating wind changes and using them to their advantage.

Race officials set a marathon three-lap course of nearly 18km between Fry Street and Susan Island, with a fast-reaching leg across the river near the South Services Club.

There was plenty action at the start as skippers jostled their boats into the best position to sail up the favoured left side of the course.

The few who chose to sail to the right to avoid the crush soon found themselves trailing the fleet.

In the Laser fleet, Steve Russell was the one to beat again.

After a brilliant start, he settled immediately into working his boat methodically upwind.

Hugging the northern bank, he extracted just enough height out of every lift to avoid having to tack away during the knocks and to everyone's amazement was able to fetch the distant top mark on one tack.

Although challenged briefly during the second lap, Russell increased his lead as the race progressed, taking line honours four minutes ahead of his nearest rival.

Peter Zietsch was second but attention switched quickly to third place, which was decided in a three-way duel between James Harrison, Debbie Parkin and Brian Wright on the final sprint to the finish.

In company with Neil Burgess, this mid-fleet group kept within metres of one another throughout the race, with skippers swapping the lead frequently. …

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