With the QLD Hobie State Championships just around the corner TVSC’s favourite multihull team headed up to the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Manly, Brisbane for some excellent racing against the hot local Hobie 16 fleet. Team Sledder’s usual crew’s weren’t available so in stepped Super Crew Deb Flannery for her second time on the Mighty Sledder! This was serious racing so Deb had to leave her dinghy hiking habit behind and step out (literally) to the next level, trapezing!
We were greeted with a beautiful sunny day in Brisbane but the winds were looking very light from the North East as the mast’s went up and the colourfull sails were raised. But not to worry, the local’s promised the afternoon sea breeze would be blowing by the time of the first start at 1:30pm.
The 13 Hobie 16’s slowly tacked their way out of the Manly boat harbour (10 tacks on Sledder!) out onto Moreton Bay where we were greeted with a glorious 12-14 knot North Easter. The locals were right! Deb apprehensively hooked onto the trapeze wire and out she went. There was nothing to worry about as Super Crew nailed it!
We were absolutely thrilled to hear the General Recall signal after the first start as ours was horrendous, bogged down in traffic going nowhere!
We had a much better restart, getting right into the mix. Not far into the first windward beat I made a stupid error and dropped the mainsheet which gave Deb and I a dunking as the windward hull dropped into the water. We quickly recovered and tacked with only a few boats still behind us. Not easy to play comeback in a feet with World Champion sailors in it! Luckily our early tack paid off big time as the wind seemed better out on the right side of the course. We pushed hard and fought our was back through the fleet to finish in a very respectable 7th, only a couple of minutes behind first place. I was particulary pleased with Deb’s jib trimming skills down wind and how quickly she picked up trapezing, nearly getting out on the wire as quick as me a number of times!
Race 2 was another screamer with an awesome battle at the start between the hardcore Hobie sailors. We battled our way around the course and only had one minor whoopsy when we tried to cross Hobie legend Rob Branch on port but had to bail into a crash tack at the last minute when we decided we couldn’t cross and we were too close to bear away without ending up pitchpoling! We recovered quickly and set off after Branchy and made good gains on the next downwind leg before fighting back past him on the next windward leg.
This was amazing as throughout this whole windward leg Deb’s trapeze harness was slowly coming apart to the point that with a few hundred metres to go to the windward mark Deb was literally holding herself out on trapeze by her strength alone! If she let go she was in the drink, but Super Crew Deb held on, put the team first and made it to the windward mark! Our tack wasn’t the best and Branchy managed to pass us, but with one downwind leg to the finish team Sledder wasn’t giving up!
We chased hard and made big gains but in the end Branchy’s decades of experience paid off and held us off by 1 second. 1 second! We were still stoked to finish the race in 4th in a very tough fleet.
After both races Team Sledder was 4th overall out of the 13 Hobies. I can’t thank Deb enough for coming up to Brisbane and giving it everything she had, including putting her body on the line! Bring on the State Championships!