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SailingApollo Bay Sailing Club

Tell Tales

Sat. 23rd March 2019

Telltales by Anton (view from the water)

This week we get to talk about big winds and trying conditions. We have had a lot of calm, flat sea states this year so plenty of opportunity to practice and get our heads around all the nuances of sailing. And lucky we have because this weekend the fleet needed every trick and technique as well as a smattering of bravado, just to keep body and soul together.

Lids, Laurie and Bruce were on duty and as Lids explained at the briefing “not sure what kind of course we will set, not sure what wind strength there will be, but we will have a race!”. And with those prophetic words ringing in our ears, we all headed out to see what the gathering winds would throw at us.

The predicted forecast was for a 10 knot westerly to sharply increase to about 20 and stabilise. Now westerlies can be very nice to sail in, when they do stay below 18 knts that is. Or, they can be unpredictable as hell, especially if they increase to around 30 as the gust range is so much broader. And did the wind stay at 20? No it did not. But did it make for some exciting and special sailing? Oh yes it did in-diddly deedy did do!

The start of the keel boats was a beautiful sight with Ten+One hammering onto the start line clear of the others. But only by the whiskers on Capt’n Ken’s grizzled and focused face. Along with them Boheme and Wild Rose chose to reef the main sail. Only Its Magic chose not to put a reef in and they suffered for it as the wind didn’t really back off much all day.

Three ff’ and the Yngling left the harbor but Community Bank and Euffamism headed back in pre-start as it became apparent that for the small boats it was going to be either survival mode, if you were lucky, or some broken gear if you weren’t. But April Dancer and Ffantome started in gusty 25 plus and there was more side slip than upwind for the first few minutes on Ffantome which saw Dancer take a handy lead. The fifteens are unable to shorten their mains and in such strong winds there are limited options for depowering them. So near knockdowns were the order of the day! The upwinds might have been a slog but the reaches were full throttle; especially when it came time to gybe.

Back on the big boats it was cut throat sailing all day. And never more than on the last beat. With the over-powered Magic relegated to fourth (but not by much) and all boats on port with only one more tack to do, Boheme looked like they could hold on. But Wild Rose came at them one more time and with only half a leg to go managed to overtake them to grab a 35 second win with the Tenners just shy in third.

And the fifteens? April Dancer crossed first but both were just grateful to make it back in in one piece to race another day. Thanks Lids, Laurie and Bruce.

Telltales by Lids (view from the duty boat)

WOW what a day’s sailing, occasionally we have a race that really gets the pulse racing, and last Saturday was one of the big ones. If you missed it or have no idea what the other crews did, I will try and recap the main parts.

So it started with the worst brief anyone has ever been to (yeah I did it). I had no confidence we would leave the harbour as the light easterly died to nothing, leaving a nasty east swell in the bay. Pete S reminded me we would at least need an idea of the course, good thinking actually as I didn’t have a flag for a standard course.

I have to thank Bruce Thomas & Laurie Shaw for stepping up to help in the duty boat while John ‘tango’ Marriner was away. Great effort guys, thanks for the help/company.

We went out to set the course and there wasn’t any wind, we drifted for 45 min, we radioed the first boat out and said we still had all the buoys in the boat and they would probably stay there. Then a puff of westerly filled the bay, we threw in a course, flagged the start and watched as the wind increased to 25 knots into a choppy east swell.

Sitting on the anchor was horrible, we headed closer to the beach to shelter from wind and swell. Still the wind increased, 4 keel boats, 3 with reefs in (reduced sail) and 2 x Flying Fifteens fought out the race, no tactics, a speed race. The FF’s were hanging on with both crews indicating they may go in early, both actually had their partners crewing and both finished the race, possibly the most courageous bit of sailing I’ve ever seen, these 2 boats spent half of the race on their sides and threw all sheets off when tacking.

Still the wind kept coming, the keel boats with reefs were faring better, but only 3 minutes separated the 4 of them.

They all went left the first up wind and all went right the next 3 up winds, and chase on the reaches, the all-conquering (or should that be “all-concurring”?) Boheme had the lead with 10+1 2nd Wildrose 3rd and Its Magic the 4th (no reef in). The 2 x FF’s started 5 min behind so were in a safer (not going to be run over or crashed into by a keel boat) position in the fleet.

Wild Rose slowly overtook 10+1, the 4 keel boats remained close, all sailing as hard as they could .

On the last leg, 200m from the finish, Wild Rose passed Boheme in a wild squall to hit the lead and cross the line 1st. Boheme got the worst of a small wind change and had to tack and cross the finish on port, 43 seconds behind. 10+1 made it over 30 sec behind them with Its Magic just behind almost taking out the finish buoy with only cm’s to spare. All less than 3 min apart after 70 min of racing.

The FF’s came over next with April Dancer holding a 1 leg lead over FFantome, both crews soaked/cold and happy to finish a tough day.

The wind peaked at 32 knots during the later stages of the race, the sea was a washing machine with all boats heeled over at near dangerous angles. Gusts made the boats near impossible to steer or control, but no-one went in early and no-one complained.

And after the days play, food and drink was had when we got to the club house and many a tall tale told.

This could be one of those times where you get asked if you were there!!!???

  Handicap Dingy YS Keel YS
1st Wild Rose   Boheme
2nd Ten+One   Wild Rose
3rd Boheme   Ten+One

ab sailing clubLife is good. Come Sailing!

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