Lack of wind makes second day of NSW Youth Championships difficult

The tables turned on day two of the Yachting NSW Youth Championships with a glass-out and fickle winds on Botany Bay keeping all classes bar the Opti green fleet waiting ashore at Georges River 16’ Sailing Club under postponement until one twilight race commenced close to 5pm in a light and variable NNE breeze.

Fleets headed out with high hopes at the published time to prepare for first race from 10am. Then the breeze conked out and the mass tow back to the host club began; marks piled in race management boats, and officials and parents with a string of dinghies dragging behind. Such is the nature of sailing. 

Course B race officer Col Chidgey and his fellow officials had hoped the nor’easter would play ball. They scouted the horizon from the radio tower at the club all day while 300 or so competitors swam and milled about in shade under the trees and around the clubhouse.

The temperature climbed well past typical spring readings, over 30 degrees. Light winds flicking from the ENE to the WNW refused to stabilise and the chance for fair racing looked to be melting away until a very late rally on the first day of daylight saving. By that stage many parents had made plans to settle in early for the NRL grand final and admitted out of earshot they would have been happy had the race committee granted an early mark.

The popular October long weekend youth regatta began promisingly yesterday, Monday October 4, 2014 thanks to a 10-13 knot average nor’east Sydney sea breeze that held in for four back-to-back races. Given the easing trend organisers were hoping to tick off another three to four races this afternoon.  A minimum of two completed races constitutes a series so at worst, final overall results can be decided as they stand and trophies presented tomorrow afternoon.

The social aspect of the state title seems just as important as results, sometimes more, and the young sailors took today’s extended stoppage in good spirits as it gave them the chance to hang out with friends. For the interstaters from Western Australia, ACT, Tasmania, Victoria and Queensland it’s a long way to come to sit under a tree; the main reason organisers persevered.

Three Tasmanian teenagers are part of a 10 person and 6.5 boat team from the southernmost state. The half a boat is 15 year-old Chloe Fisher who stepped in to crew for skipper Max Paul racing his 29er called Starfish for the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in Sydney. Her usual helmsperson Samantha Bailey is having a time-out as she recovers from a back injury. Still wearing a black long-legged wetsuit in the worst of the afternoon heat an unfazed Fisher said, “There has been too much socialising going on to get changed.”

Hobart based Laser 4.7 sailor Josh Ragg from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania and Laser Radial sailor Ryan Moreton from Launceston sailing for Port Dalrymple Yacht Club also found the heat taxing and very different to the climate back home. On training and racing on Hobart’s Derwent River in winter Moreton joked, “You have to layer up like an onion”.

These regattas teach important life as well as competition skills. The Laser pair, both grade 8 students, were sent to the supermarket at sparrow’s yesterday morning by their fathers to bring back lettuce for sandwiches.  Their limited experience shopping for vegetables ended hilariously when they handed over a cabbage.

The ISAF Sailing World Cup – Melbourne in December is the next stop for the pair and Fisher is hoping to be there too.

Racing is due to start from 10am tomorrow, Monday October 6, 2014. The forecast says southerly winds 15-20 knots becoming variable about 10 knots early in the morning turning north-easterly 15-25 knots in the late afternoon. The prediction has some of the makings of another unstable middle part of the day though PRO Andrew McLachlan believes conditions will be greatly improved. “The models are saying the overnight southerly should peter out and we’ll have a nor’easter by late morning. We are crossing our fingers.”

All racing must be completed by 3pm, a cut-off that gives organisers time to run the awards presentation and get kids and boats home and unpacked before school commences on Tuesday.

The state youth championship is run under the auspices of Yachting NSW, a not for profit organisation responsible for the administration, promotion and advancement of the sport of sailing at all levels throughout NSW. Gill and Nautilus Marine are keen event sponsors and Roads and Maritime Services has thrown considerable assets at the event including PFDs for all officials and a trade-in service on old lifejackets for the latest PFDs.


– Lisa Ratcliff/Event Media

M.O.S.S Australia
Cyclops Marine