You should have been there! It was another great Hawkesbury weekend. As usual the guys & gals at the Hawkesbury club went out of their way to make us welcome& to give us some good races. It was nice to sit under the trees on the beach & enjoy the unique venue that is the HKPCYC sailing club & surrounds.
And whilst it is always good to catch up with the Gleeson's on Under Pressure 2 & Alex, Peter & Myff on Wobbygong, it was especially nice to see a couple of new crews joining the fleet. The Sheldon boys have purchased Measurement Solutions & Tiarne, Meg & Bec have left the Flying 11’s & are now campaigning VS 2200. All members were pleased to see some ‘new blood’ in the fleet but seemingly none more so than Col, who went out of his way to meet the boys personally & show them his boat close up...
A smokey start to the day should have given us some clue that this weekend could be different. And, whilst the
weather threw up a few challenges for everyone, Graham, Mark & co applied some wise local knowledge & set us good courses for all races. Now it was up to the sailors to enjoy the nice, flat, uncrowded waters. And from the smiles on Saturday arvo I think everyone did. But as for Sunday…...
Saturday Race - All about the wind….
With a gentle Ne’er blowing & a run out tide, 8 boats lined up for the start. There were many crew changes so it was good to see those who made the effort to chase crews. Firestorm, about the only boat with the usual crew, went for the pin end & headed to the usually favoured northern side of the course with the fleet very close
behind. When the breeze freshened from the NE the entire fleet tacked & enjoyed a flat-water tramp up to the
top mark. It was very nice.
Firestorm rounded the top mark first, set the kite, and with a nice gust blasting them down the northern shore out of the current, looked likely to be unchallenged for the race. But we all know Hawkesbury. By the time they
rounded the bottom mark just a boat length behind was Gordon, Simon & Jason (subbing for a HSC studying Ryan) on Stowe. They had gone to the southern side of the course & made big gains on the run. Also doing similar were Brian, Dan & Elise (subbing for Tim) on Under Pressure 2 and the Raptor boys. Troy Botting Shipwright (with Greg Lowe making a return after 2 years to cover for Adam) & Wobbygong tried similar but ended up at the back of the fleet. There were two breezes – a NE’er on the northern side of the course& a SE’er on the other. The trick was to pick when to change sides. For the first lap or so the girls on 2200 & Mike Sheldon on Measurement Solutions picked it, and were in the mix. It was good to see.
The breeze kept everyone on their toes for the rest of the race. It was light & SE at the bottom mark; moderate & NE at the top mark. At the finish Firestorm claimed the win from TBS, who did a fine job coming back through the fleet, and Raptor 3rd.
Saturday Race 2. - All about the tide….
In the wait between races the wind died. In an attempt to fulfil our wish for two races on Saturday the Hawkesbury officials moved the course up toward Juno & away from the weird breeze near rusty cliff. And what a great move it was. As the day was getting on they decided to send the juniors home. With just the VS’s lining up for the start an 8 - 12 knot Easterly filled the course. But by now the tide had turned& started to run in hard. Now this had to be considered. This time it was Under Pressure 2 who chased Firestorm hard off the start. For this race the trick was to stay out of the tide upwind as much as possible. With boats diving in and out of the channel markers there was some good close racing. First to the top mark was Firestorm, with Under Pressure 2, TBS & Raptor in close pursuit. With the tide rushing in at the top mark it seemed logical to head out into the middle of the river. The front three set kites then gybed. Raptor did a gybe set. By the time they were at the bottom mark most of the fleet was in front of them. As Brian explained later the tide swirls around the top mark & actually dragged Raptor the wrong way. Up the next work, the leaders tried hard to keep out of the tide. Firestorm snuck into the shallows & made some good gains to round the top mark in first. Brian put his local knowledge & boat speed to good use, rounding in second with a nice gap to TBS. This looked like the
finishing order of the top three until 100m from the leeward mark, where Under Pressure 2 found a hole, only to watch TBS run past them to eventually take 2nd from them by 11 seconds. Raptor recovered for 4th whilst behind there was another close tussle underway. This time the locals prevailed as Wobbygong snuck home in front of Stowe by 7 seconds. For a first VS regatta, the Measurement Solutions boys sailed well, finishing just a few minutes further back. Arguably just as good an effort was that of the girls on 2200, finishing just a little
further back in a boat that needs a little tuning (how long since anyone has seen a timber spinnaker pole)..
Sunday- All about survival….
Today was always going to be interesting. The weather forecast was for strong Westerlies before an afternoon
southerly buster. But as we waited at the boat ramp all we could see was smoke. A light NW’er was blowing and it was hot. A couple of crew changes again today, foremost the welcome return of Steve Sims at the helm of TBS. Paige Botting also returned to the fleet, today sailing up front on TBS. Must have heard how good Saturday was. Come start time, seven boats headed to the start line at Juno. A moderate westerly was blowing but typical of this breeze it would pulse through fresh for a few minutes then abate for a similar time.
Unfortunately the start was delayed due to problems with a buoy and whilst another anchor was sourced the breeze freshened more. Measurement Solutions & 2200 had a swim or two and were dragged by the tide around to Patonga. Unfortunately two DNS’s. The rest of the fleet got away & battled to tide back toward the club. Firestorm lead up the first work, chased closely TBS. Firestorm rounded the windward mark first & set a kite in a black one. The same gust tipped TBS just before the mark. They quickly righted the boat but found the vang broken to DNF. The Stowe boys had a few swims and also made for shore. It was similar stories for Wobbygong & Under Pressure 2, except I believe one might have a hole in a sail as evidence of a wild capsize. More DNF’s. So in the end Firestorm was the last boat standing. I can tell you it was wild at times but the kite runs were some of the quickest I’ve ever done. Full results, including handicap places, will be posted
Not quite race related but I know of interest to VS members are a couple of items. Firstly, I know all members will join me in wishing Sam Kelly a full and speedy recovery. For those who may not know, Sam suffered a life-threatening condition recently and has been undergoing treatment in hospital ever since. Latest news is that an operation was successful and Sam is path to recovery. We all look forward to seeing the all the Kelly’s around the rigging area again soon, especially Capt’n Col – I can’t believe how slow he is unrigging without Sam!!.
Also making news is that Chook has sold Raptor. But what makes this a good news story is that Chook will still be on the VS start lines – he has bought 2232. I’ve heard a rumour the buyer of Raptor is new to the class but an experienced sailor so the move should see another boat on the water. Well done Bob.
Finally a quick reminder about the upcoming regattas. Teralba TT races are on 23rd & 24th of November. The nationals at Gosford have been confirmed, starting Sunday 5th January with racing until Saturday 11th. I have been working on the arrangements & programme with Gosford SC and can tell you they are keen on hosting us. We are sharing the venue with the National E’s. Start planning for it now. Eventually there will be no more VS regattas so get in while you can!.
I hope to see you on the water soon.