Where did last week go? I remember having a great weekend at Sunshine then work got in the way of fun, then the next minute I know we are back at Teralba again. And guess what? There were two breezes on the course at Teralba & it was soft. Not like at the Sunshine regatta. The big Nor-Easters we have seen every
weekday hung around for that weekend. It was great VS weather. As I keep on saying “if you have a VS, why aren’t you here?”.
Once again the weather bureau got it right. With a forecast of a building NE’er six boats licked their lips and
rigged. Firestorm & Troy Botting Shipwright were at full strength with regular crews, ready to continue their battles from the Gosford nationals. Zephyr was also at full strength – Bob, Hayden & Tarik still busy tuning their new sails. With Jason still away working on the roads in the country (no he is not a slave) Tim & Hughie recruited Dom from PBB to join them for the weekend on SFC Computers. The fleet also welcomed the return of Range, with Steve & Mick having a rest from their globe trotting, but hoping for a lighter breeze with Janine T filling the spot vacated by the ‘Splitter’. Also making the effort was Under Pressure 2 with Brian & Daniel keeping it in the family & signing Kev for the weekend. With a big fleet the course was set as per previous years work up to the island, then run down towards Shingles, complete a couple of loops towards the Wangi side of the island then have a drag race home. We all knew what to do except for at the start. The VSs were scheduled to start with a real mixed fleet – NSs, MGs, Contenders, Skates, etc. Where to start? We are faster than the rest but getting stuck to windward of a w*nker on a NS might not be a good move. So we started everywhere! Firestorm waited for the stragglers to clear the start boat then tacked immediately onto port. TBS was further toward the pin but got an MG on their weather hip. It was a similar case for SFC, Range, Zephyr & UP2.
As the fleet cleared Firestorm looked to have opened a small lead from TBS & Range. But as our fleet
caught the earlier starters near the top mark it got very crowded. Col, Adam & Troy picked a clear lane the best & rounded the top mark first, with Firestorm & Range not too far behind. TBS & Firestorm worked the run hard, opening up a lead on the rest, with TBS rounding the leeward mark a boat length ahead of Firestorm. But unfortunately they rounded wide, allowing Firestorm to windward (my favourite position!!). From here Firestorm slowly opened up the gap on each leg that they would hold to the finish. TBS didn’t have the horsepower upwind in the building breeze but hung on for 2nd. Range also lacked a bit of horsepower but enjoyed the breeze to finish 3rd & keep TBS honest. Tim & Hugh were trying to show Dom what it is like to keep a mast pointing skyward all race but had a spinnaker halyard tangle that forced a swim. They managed 4th but had Zephyr hot on their heels. Meanwhile, Kev was causing havoc on UP2. He broke a trap line, causing a swim. A little later another trap line broke, another swim. UP2 was seen having another swim later in the race. Yep another broken trapeze. They finally DNFed. The handicap honours for the day went to TBS, from SFC with Zephyr 3rd. Whilst it seemed a long race for some, when we got in & checked the watches it was only 3:30. Yep the race was only 1 hr. Over a few drinks & with some great pizza at Lindsay & Mandy’s, the fleet decided tomorrow we would put on a show for the punters on shore & have a 5 lap race in the bay. Would we regret
With the forecast for a black Ne’er today, staying within the bay could be a good idea. With a top boat speed of
18.9 knots on TBS yesterday, I’m thinking the flat water will see the 20 knot barrier broken. Let’s go!!
On the bank the Gleeson boys replaced the trap lines on UP2 & were ready to go again. Zephyr did more tuning & was also eager to race again. Tim was seen tweeking many minor parts so hopefully had removed all of the gremlins from yesterday. Range was without Mick today & weighed up the crew weight vs the predicted wind & decided to call it a day. So five VSs lined up again for a mixed fleet start, but the experience of yesterday was evident. Firestorm won the start at the pin in clear air, with TBS in clear air to leeward. SFC & Zephyr were also both in clear air toward the middle of the line, with the Gleeson boys also making a good start. At the top mark for the 1st time Firestorm had opened up a nice lead from TBS, SFC, Zephyr & UP2. Five laps later the boats finished in this same order, but with many tales of high speed runs, black gusts & wild headers up near the island. I think it was a credit that we all finished. By contrast only 2 skates finished (& I think we just about lapped both!). Part of the fun of the day was picking when to gybe. Flat water & less than 25 knots seemed to be the trigger for Firestorm & TBS. SFC & Zephyr may have had similar ideas but were seen several times way overcooked, heading toward Johnny’s Point on the edge. It looked great!! TBS
recorded the top speed at 19.8 knots but this was over 500m. I reckon we all easily broke the 20 knot mark at some stage. On handicap SFC won on the day, by 27 seconds from TBS, who in turn beat Zephyr by 18 seconds. Once again close finishes were decisive, with a missed tack or an aborted gybe making the difference, not only in this race but in the overall results too. These heats were the final two heats of the state series and in the end Zephyr, Firestorm & Troy Botting Shipwright all ended the series on 13 points – count back required. With each boat scoring one win it came down to places, and the results of the final heat made the difference (remember that 18 seconds). Col, Adam & Troy on Troy Botting Shipwright are worthy State Handicap Champions. They sailed well in every race and improved to the point that they were equal to Firestorm mid-season. Bob, Hayden & Tarik on Zephyr finished 2nd. They also sailed ‘above their weight’ despite taking on the big task of tuning a new boat and sails throughout the season. They also moved to Gosford, which helped establish a fleet but gave them less front running opposition. Firestorm ended 3rd on the handicap count back (but was never going to win!) but did enough to retain the State Scratch Championship.
John, Dale & Lindsay ended the series with a perfect scorecard of 5 wins but had many close finishes with TBS. I can honestly say we had to sail at our best to win so it feels good. Many races were as exhausting mentally as they were physically. TBS kept the pressure on throughout the series, but the big blow at Hawkesbury, where Firestorm was the only finisher, put them behind the eight ball. Zephyr were again consistent all year to finish 3rd overall, but I’m sure will continue to mature& be top contenders in the
future. The next regatta is this weekend in Sydney. These are the final two heats of the Travellers Trophy series. Why not bring your boat & come along? The Vaucluse crew put on a great regatta, with unique sailing on the harbour followed by a unique afternoon of après sailing on Saturday. Who knows how long this will continue so you’d kick yourself for missing it. Likewise on Sunday, Yarra Bay will host us at another great venue. The water there is so clean, flat & uncrowded that is it a real treat to sail there. Phil & the boys always
set us great courses that leave us smiling & wanting more. Again why not make the effort? Could be the end of an era…. Hope to see you there!!!