As our personal water taxi towed us around to the beach the first thing grab my attention was the number of juniors at the club on a Saturday morning. In the days of diminishing sailing numbers this was a great sight. If even only a few of these kids end up on a VS the class will survive. The day was hot but the water was cool and clear, so sitting on the beach under the shady trees catching up with VS mates was nearly perfect. With a hot, gusty wind blowing, six VS’s were amongst the fleet that sailed for the start. Unfortunately the wind went through a typical westerly sequence: a few minutes of 10 knots, followed by a few minutes of up to 30 knots. It led to some great rides as boats reached around waiting for a start, some even with spinnakers set. But unfortunately there were also many who also tasted the tide or broke gear, keeping the rescue boats busy and denying them the chance to set a course. As the VS fleet have done in the past, the ‘on water committee’ decided to call it quits for the day. What a great decision! With lightning & thunder starting to crackle as we hit the beach we knew a thunderstorm was near. Within minutes rain was blowing horizontal and a squall was blowing the tops off waves. I couldn’t see the moored boats in the bay, let alone any out sailing. A few boats had the ‘pleasure’ of being out there in the storm but as quickly as it came it passed and all boats made it safely ashore. Made for some good stories as we sat around later chatting & having some refreshments.
Graham, Mark & the Hawkesbury crew always look after us well & apply wise local knowledge to set us good courses for our races. But today was a real challenge for them. With forecasts of a building SE’er and the plan to sail three races today we hit the water early in a breeze fluctuating between SE & SW. This is not common at Hawkesbury so after waiting to see where it settled, the starter tried to set us a course across the front of the club. This looked good for a while but then the breeze swung SE. After a reset of the course we were preparing to start again when a NE’er kicked in. It was now later in the afternoon but as the breeze was settled at 10 – 15 knots all the way down the river and true in direction it was time to start. With the run in tide resulting in nice, flat water it also lead to the need to get out of it when sailing upwind. Firestorm was the pin boat & lead Troy Botting Shipwright across to the north. A good battle was also emerging not far behind, with Wobbygong, Battleship, Under Pressure Too & Measurement Solutions having a great race & trading tacks. Firestorm had opened up a small lead by the top mark and in conditions that suited were not headed to finish 1st. TBS slipped back a little down the second run but kept the leaders honest all race to finish 2nd. After a good final lap Brian, Tim & Daniel on Under Pressure Too won the battle of the local boats by finishing 3rd, just ahead of Battleship. Peter T was making a cameo appearance with Greg & Chris today but I’m sure Battleship will remain more than competitive when Andrew returns. Also with regular crew missing, Alex sailed Wobbygong well to finish just a little further back in 5th, a swim causing them to just lose touch with the others. A swim or two might also have slowed the Sheldon boys on Measurement Solutions but given the right conditions these boys will be a real threat to all boats in the fleet. Watching them twin stringing whilst we were floundering when the breeze was lighter before one of the postponed starts, I’m sure they too will have their day soon. They impressed me with possibly the best capsize save I have seen after a mistimed gybe. With the spinnaker flapping the top of the mast must have been less than a metre off the water for about a minute. But they didn’t give up & kept her up. Wished I’d had a camera…
Even though we were all enjoying the breeze & smooth waters, by the time the second start was due the coolness of the breeze was starting to bite (especially those in shorts & tee shirts only!!). Again another smart ‘on water committee’ decision was made to head for shore as by the time we unrigged, chatted, had a presentation & headed for home the evening was close.
So only one race was sailed, but for that race the course was perfect in length & direction. There were plenty of options, which made for a good sailing challenge. The breeze was set (no holes or wild oscillations) and with enough strength so that everyone was easing sheet but not breaking gear. TBS reported a top speed of 17 knots. In all it was a great day and completed a memorable weekend. I hope you are now thinking you should have made the effort to get to Hawkesbury. Too late for that this season but the Teralba regatta is coming up soon, as is the Gosford nationals. Check the calendar now.
Full results, including handicap places, will be posted soon.