Big River SH Regatta 2013
by Peter Robinson
The NSW/ACT OK sailors had been anticipating the Big River Regatta for many months - since the last regatta - as this has proved to be one of the most novel and fun events on the season's program.
The Big River Sailing Club is situated on the Clarence River about halfway between Grafton and the rivermouth at Yamba. The river widens at this point and offers a broad reach of water for sailing although requires a creative sailing officer to set predominately zigzag courses to suit the conditions.
Tim and Gareth and their families arrived a day early and had a well established camp when the remainder of the OK entrants arrived during Friday afternoon. Most wasted no time in getting onto the water to enjoy the steady 10-15kn southwesterly. Brent Williams barely stopped to say his hellos before a record 20 minutes from arriving to having his boat on the water and sailing.
We then celebrated everyone's arrival in the traditional way with evening drinks on the lawn followed by dinner at the Harwood Hotel (and then followed by a few more quiet drops). Children tucked up in their tents and caravans were soon followed by weary adults looking to get a good night's rest before the sailing proper.
Saturday dawned clear and warm and the light southerly gradient was replaced right on race time with a 15kn easterly sea breeze. After an entertaining briefing by Mark, the AP came down and a mixed fleet of OKs, Lasers and Sabres launched for the first two races.
Glenn Williams, just back from sea, showed us all how the locals do it by crossing the first start at the pin on port and immediately opened a commanding lead which he held for much of the race. Tim Davies however, not one to let a large gap worry him closed on and passed Glenn by the final mark to take the first hooter, with Eddie taking third.
The tide, an interesting component of the racing on the river, was at full flood and a significant proportion of the fleet made at least one misjudged mark rounding resulting in many turns being executed throughout the afternoon. The wind stayed in and made it a great afternoon of racing.
We had all learned something from watching Glenn in the first race and this time the fleet made fewer digs into the current and consequently places changed on every leg. Brent Williams and Mark Skelton both found their stride and took the top places with Tim showing consistency (and determination) to take third and finish on top of the points for the day.
Mike Walker was close to the action and sailed brilliantly in the blustery conditions, finishing just behind Peter Robinson and Gareth Wells, sharing the lower placings.
An early start to cocktails and plenty of delicious nibbles made for an enjoyable afternoon. The club provided their customary BBQ dinner with fantastic sticky-date puddings to round off a perfect day.
A calm and sunny morning presented on Sunday and racing got underway in the light southerly of 4-8kn over a figure-eight course. The moderately strong tide made judging approaches to marks tricky but critical to keeping positions.
In the lighter conditions, Peter Robinson was able to benefit from his lighter weight and lead the first race all around with Brent Williams on his tuck until a late misjudgement let a still determined Tim Davies through for second. Glenn Williams - also well up for most of the race decided to take a refreshing dip as I guessed he didn't want to show up the visitors in another race.
There was time for a second race before lunch and this became the Tim and Mark Show with the pair clearing out from the rest of the fleet. Peter Robinson was the best of the rest with an increasingly tenacious Brent Williams again trying every trick to get past and Gareth Wells further up the placings.
After a very civilised break for lunch, we again launched from the riverbank for the final race. In a slightly stronger breeze Mark Skelton found late form to take the win with Glenn right behind. These two cleared out again from the rest of the fleet. Tim had the regatta win already in the bag so was not concerned with his drop for the weekend.
Mark's late form gave him the points for second and Brent's consistent performance across the weekend earned him third place. Provisional results on the afternoon awarded third to Peter Robinson but on a subsequent re-tally and correction the bronze "bucket" was retrospectively awarded to Brent Williams. Lucky, as the bucket's contents had already been consumed during the evening and shared by all.
Sunday has become the traditional Fish & Chips night with most of the fleet staying for the night and enjoying a few rum buckets before farewelling the Big River for another year and a promise to return for the next regatta.
We once again enjoyed the fabulous hospitality of the Big River sailing club and with special thanks to Hariet, Mark, Wayne and Jan. For those who came this year - we'll be back. For those that didn't make it you should mark your calendars now for the last weekend of October for one of the best "away" regattas to be had.
OK Dinghy Summary
Result Status: , Results as of : 10/27/2013 4:09 AM (CST)
|Rank||Skipper||Crew||Sail #||SHR Race 1||SHR Race 2||SHR Race 5||SHR Race 4||SHR Race 3||Total||Net|
Sailed: 5, Discards: 1, To count: 4, Rating: Portsmouth, Entries: 8, Scoring system: Portsmouth
Report on Big River website: http://www.bigriver.yachting.org.au/assoc_page.cgi?c=0-10023-0-0-0