At the helm with Alison Blatcher.
The Race day morning saw a chilly start, the Condong Sugar Mill chimney showed there was a good breeze but this was all to change. The crowd started to roll up at Clarrie Purnell Park before 7am and soon there were eggs and bacon sizzling and the kettle boiling, the catering team kept the sailors well fed and ready for what started to look like being a truly marathon race. The TVSC Safety boat crew – Reg Court, Garry Bargh and Richard Roberts had an early start at Fingal – launching the RIBS and heading off upstream to Condong. Roland Schwertner and Rick from Richmond River SC arrived early too and the Murwillumbah Rowing club boat was also ready to go. We welcomed visitors from Oxley SC, Brisbane Sailing Squadron, RQYS (Manly) and the largest contingent from TSS (The Southport School) bringing 6 Pacers. All boats 27 boats were on the water, the starters at the ready ….and the breeze died to nothing. So as the start horn sounded a burst of laughter went around the boats as they sat in the water not moving! This soon changed and the fleet moved off with the wind behind them, brightly coloured spinnakers were hauled up and they disappeared around the bend towards Tumbulgum.
Spectators waved along the river bank and the wind started to pick up as the fleet arrived at Tumbulgum and navigated under the bridge and on towards rainforested Stotts Island.
Three classes of boat were well represented this year – the 3 handed Corsairs (8 boats), 2 handed Pacers (6) and singlehanded Impulses (5). There were also 4 Lasers. In the Corsairs Alison Blatcher, skippering 683 Fairlight with crew Karen Vidler and Imogen Potts had an impressive lead for nearly half of the race but a couple of lulls in wind and river currents spinning them in a full circle at one point saw them start to lose the lead. Corsair 490 Keenas (Mark Reynolds, Marg Walgers & Craig Foley) crept up and flew past through the Stotts Island narrows never to be caught again. In the very last stretch of the race at Chinderah Corsair 396 Nimbus (Scott Jones and daughter Caitlyn) also over took Fairlight and they fought to the finish line ending just 6 seconds in front of the early leader.
The Pacers sailing without spinnakers were the slowest boats in the fleet but were still only a minute behind the last Corsair at the finish line. After 3 and a half hours of sailing, 3 of the 6 Pacers still managed to finish only 1 second apart. Xavier Doer and Keely Whitaker from TSS took out 1st with TVSC members Igor Prado and junior Kynan Luecher, sailing a Pacer for the first time, coming in 2nd followed by TSS crew Monet Mooney and Jess Sabin. TVSC juniors Isaac Poulsen with Layla Scholz also sailed a Pacer for the first time. This was Isaac’s first time skippering in the Tumbulgum race – he was up with the 1st placed Pacer for much of the race and so should be very pleased. The flukey breeze that this race is known for caught them out and left the other 3 Pacers 10 minutes behind the others by the finish.
In huge contrast to the becalmed start the sailors faced 15-23 knot gusts as they came to the Chinderah reach with the wind coming from all and any directions. They had to be on their toes not to end up going for a swim which made for an exciting last leg. The smiles as they crossed the line may have had a tinge of relief to them!
An unusual boat sailed by Mark Harper, a Devoti D zero, led the fleet for most of the way. Laser sailor John Pring on “Fig Jam” put in a heroic effort to keep up with him and hung on to be second across the line just over 3 hours after the start. The Lasers and the Impulses played cat and mouse all the way to the finish line – all of them excellent and very experienced sailors so after John crossed the next 3 were only seconds apart – Peter Fell (Impulse Mr Plow) then Mike Robinson (Impulse Plymouth) and TVSC’s Kate Yeomans (Laser Radial Bluey). TVSC’s Adam Hurt from Fingal took the 3rd place in the Impulses on Rosie, by far the oldest Impulse in the fleet.
Commendations also go to the Dads celebrating early for Fathers Day. Jan Trueman and daughter Ruby from Chillingham sailing their Tasar for the very first time; Matthew Plummer and son Finley sailed one of TSS’s Pacers and David Robinson with son Hugh sailed their NS14. It was a cold race after the Tasar and the Pacer both went for a swim but they made it to the finish line and Ruby, Finley and Hugh will have many stories to tell their friends at school this week.
Once the finish times were adjusted for the different boat speeds Peter Fell from Oxley SC in Brisbane came out this year’s Tumbulgum Passage Champion and took home a voucher for a Husk Distillery Tour for two. Other great prizes donated by local businesses included Red Box Gym and Gold Coast Yoga monthly passes, vouchers for Cubby Bakehouse, Tyalgum Gelato, Watersports Guru and Tweed River seafoods so everyone went home happy.
We look forward to doing it all again next year – with maybe a few practice sails up to Tumbulgum for lunch and back to Fingal before the next marathon race comes round. If you would like to be part of this great event next year – come and join us for the start of our summer season. Get involved in sailing or as part of our enthusiastic support team – we’d love to have you on board.