Sunday the 23rd brought the promise of a great day’s racing but La Niña had other ideas. High tide and 15 knots from the southeast was promised (and promising) but gusty squalls blowing in would cause some mayhem through the fleet during the afternoon. Local Tweed Valley sailors turned up with 5 lasers, 3 corsairs, an X3 and an NS14 to be joined by 4 NS14s from the South Brisbane club.
A good start line was set facing the sou’easter but on the sound of the gun (pipsqueak hooter?) a few of the visiting NS14s were seen to be some way back from the line, possibly being more used to 5-minute starts than our 3-minute ones. However, all advanced up the river towards to windward mark while a few crew were observed to be having trouble keeping the boats upright along the way. One lost its skipper overboard but had the crew still in the boat and sailing away from the skipper in the water. Eventually, both crew and boat were happily reunited.
Mark, Marg and Hollen in the Corsair “Keen As” (mustard – you have to see the colour of the boat to get the name!) had a good start and lead the corsairs around the course, opting not to fly their kite and keep their runs lean and mean. Kynan had a great start in the Lasers along with Peter and Kate and was looking good going up the track to the windward mark before the gusty squalls caused a few thrills and spills.
Monique in her laser “Rolling Stone” had a capsize just before the start but recovered well to work her way through the fleet to 3rd of the lasers before having some main sheet issues limiting her ability to compete in the fleet.
A rain squall hit towards the end of the first race causing many capsizes in the NS14 and Laser 4.7 fleet, with the race officer deciding discretion, was the better part of valour and sending the fleet back to the riverbank to wait it out. A few boats ventured out for an unofficial 2nd race to enjoy some relatively balmy conditions for another circuit of the racetrack. Mark in Keen As pushed Peter in his Laser up at the second start while Monique tried a port end start to gain some advantage but didn’t get any real benefit except for the racing experience of knowing when not to try that. Guy, Erik and Daniel in the second Corsair “Squirtie” had a slower start but kept the pressure on Mark and the crew in Keen As around the track.
Ari in the lone X3 pushed through most of the first race in fine style and showed he wasn’t daunted by turning up for the second race raring to go. Dave and Hugh on the lone catamaran screamed around the course, often on one hull and seemingly out of control but always managing to keep it vertical more than horizontal while taking a lot of tacks to get to the windward mark.
The NS14 crews agreed it was a challenging experience but we are sure all will benefit from braving the conditions when they next wet their boats. Later in the day, two NS14s from South Brisbane Sailing Club ventured out again with some older ballast to assist in keeping them upright in the slightly calmer conditions.
It was also noted that at least some of the crews were listening at the briefing where we discussed the importance of taking a penalty (doing your turns) if you infringe the rules. As our PM said, “Rules are rules!”. Guy admitted after the race to doing a turn after getting in Ari’s way (and taking on a cockpit full of water due to an imprecise gybe and tack) while yours truly did a turn for a wafer-thin tap of boom onto the mast of the demonstrative Kate in Bluey.
We return for more fun and mayhem in two weeks time. Also, remember that the QLD/Northern NSW Laser River titles will be held at Fingal on March 27. If you don’t own a laser, beg, borrow or steal one for the day for some great competition.
Words by Peter Fell