On day 3, the final day of the Commodores Cup at Sail Port Stephens 2012, early forecasts had been for 20-30 knots and although a start was planned for 1100am the weather gods did not read the brochure and the 46 boat Cruising fleet was held ashore by race officials, who regularly updated the fleet via SMS.
You are a Long Time Dead - Commodores Cup day 3 Sail Port Stephens
A scenic course 6 around Port Stephens was set by race officials; from the start line to Nelson Head buoy, back to the middle ground beacon, to the south channel mark, back to middle ground and repeat. Division 1 was set three laps, Division 2 two laps.
Around 1245 a breeze came in and a start was planned for 1330.
In Division 1 Margaret Rintoul V, Graham Mobuckson’s Custom 18.5m German Frers started midline, with the Saloona 44 Last Tango skippered by Adam Brown inside her, but Breezin', Bradley Sewell’s Melges 32 came through fast.
Behind them a major miscalculation by the crew on John McNamara’s modified Farr 40 Irc Iota and Long Time Dead, Matthew Fensom’s Farr 40 was caught too far out from the start line in the lightening conditions. Tony Kirby’s X-41 Patrice Six was well placed.
Some 100 metres after the start the breeze dropped away, so the fleet was almost at a stand still.
Kerinda, Len Payne’s Lidgard 10.6, once again had an excellent start in Division 2.
The breeze came in at Fly Point, the inner light flags at Halifax Point were flying hard, the lead boats took off with a north easter getting up to ten knots. Out at the Nelson Head buoy the swell was rolling in.
At the top mark Euphoria, Anthony Coleman’s J133 with a moderate hoist, was ahead of Long Time Dead.
Euphoria leads the fleet to the Nelson Head buoy
Last Tango’s halyard was not clipped correctly but once rectified, they started to wind up. Margaret Rintoul V was next, ahead of Patrice Six who was nicely placed. The Melges 32 Breezin was ahead of Iota, Secret’s Men’s Business 1 Robert Curtis’ Murray 42, and Menace, the Phillips Simson of Niven James, all well back.
The breeze had lifted to 8-10 knots with improved visibility as the fleet continued on in the slight swell.
The first dozen boats got around the mark, then the rain came back in hard and the wind died.
With the tide turned the rounded boats were drifting backwards.
An hour later the lead boat Long Time Dead was still closing on the South Channel mark and with many of the fleet not having reached the Nelson mark, Principal Race Office Denis Thompson did the sensible thing and abandoned the race.
Once again the race back to the dock was a brisk one.
Over the radio Tony Kirby thanked the Race Management for their patience and their attempt to get a race off in the most challenging conditions. Len Payne from Kerinda and John Clinton from Holy Cow did likewise.
Thompson said ‘A happy record fleet sailing in miserable conditions kept their humour the whole time and this is the spirit of the regatta.
‘Certainly trying conditions - it seemed that the rain cells were not listening to the weather forecasters and its clear they will have to get their communication sorted in the future.’
Well over 200 people will be attending this evening Presentation function at West’s Diggers Nelson Bay.
Tomorrow is a lay day for sailors in the Cruising fleet who will be sailing in the Trophy Series.
The new two day Junior Regatta commences tomorrow and is being sailed in a variety of boats - O’Pen Bics, Sabots, Laser 4.7 and Optimists. The event is being sailed from Port Stephens Sailing and Aquatic Club, Seaview Crescent, Soldiers Point (behind Salamander Shores).
There are already some 25 O’Pen Bics registered. More details are available on the event website www.sailportstephens.com.au All entries are welcome.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday some of sailing’s big guns come out to play in the 2012 Sail Port Stephens Trophy Series. Along with the Elliott 7 Sports Boat National Championship and the NSW Grand Prix IRC Championship, it’s shaping up to be the biggest and best Sail Port Stephens fleet.
More information at the Sail Port Stephens 2012 website - http://www.sailportstephens.com.au