Higgins takes out title with a day to spare | Melges 24 Nationals

By Neil Stanbury

The fleet was tight on the penultimate day of racing. Photos: Ally Graham

It seems that all our headlines include the word ‘Higgins’, however with two heats yet to be sailed in the Musto Melges 24 Nationals at Port Lincoln, Sandy Higgins and his team on Scorpius is now certain to take the championship.

With eight heats completed, Scorpius has recorded five wins and a second.

With a 12 to 15-knot breeze from the southeast this afternoon, Higgins started strongly in the first race of the day, crossing the finish line 25 seconds ahead of second-placed Kraken (David Young, NSW) and Rank Bajin (Doug Watson, SA) to assert his dominance over the 12-boat fleet.

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Doug Watson's Rank Bajin sailed well. Photos: Ally Graham
Doug Watson’s Rank Bajin sailed well. Photos: Ally Graham

Fancied contender Robbie Deussen, in Red Mist, and defending champion Andy Wharton of NSW (Accrewed Interest) were both OCS and had to fight back to finish eighth and tenth in the heat respectively.

With two drops available after the start of tomorrow’s ninth heat, Higgins looks unlikely at this point to be outclassed, in what has been a strong and closely-fought fleet.

After a general recall and no doubt spurred by the disappointment of breaking the line in race one of the day, Deussen came back with a vengeance in the seventh heat to win.

Deussen beat out fellow former Sharpie national champion, SA’s David Royle in Outlier, who had led around the bottom mark and was first at the top mark the second time, only for Red Mist to steal the lead.

Andy Wharton's Accrewed Interest getting lit up. Photos: Ally Graham
Andy Wharton’s Accrewed Interest getting lit up. Photos: Ally Graham

Dave Alexander in The Farm was third, followed by Higgins who doggedly held on for fourth.

The 10 to 12-knot breeze firmed for the third and last race of the day, with Deussen and Royle again leading the fleet away from the start line.

However it was Accrewed Interest first to the top mark, holding the lead until the last leg.

But Higgins was too good, coming through to win by 17 seconds ahead of Accrewed Interest , with David Young of Kraken third a further 12 seconds back.

Deussen and Royle took fourth and fifth to firm up their positions in the overall standings.

Two heats remain, set to be sailed tomorrow afternoon in 20-plus knots, which should deliver some spectacular sailing.

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The breeze picked up a little bit on Thursday. Photos: Ally Graham
The breeze picked up a little bit on Thursday. Photos: Ally Graham

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