Breeze tests big fleet after forecast blown out of the water

SAILORS checking the weather report on Friday night could have been forgiven for thinking they'd be in for an easy afternoon on the water in Saturday's club pointscore heat.

The forecast was for a dying south-westerly breeze, to be gradually replaced by a gentle north-easterly late in the afternoon.

However, even while rigging up it was apparent this wasn't going to be the case, with a rapidly strengthening easterly breeze causing excitement levels to rise.

Even better, race nominations just kept coming in, eventually reaching 22 boats, which is a record for the season.

To make the most of the improving conditions, race officials set an extended course between Miller Street and Susan Island, with the usual reaching leg just upstream from the clubhouse.

As the breeze shifted in the second lap, crews enjoyed an additional ultra-fast reaching leg all the way to the bottom mark, with skippers surfing the sizeable waves to gain even more speed and adding to the thrill factor.

In a busy but orderly start, skippers were vying for the best positions, which appeared to be the middle of the river. With the fleet only just clear of the bridge, the breeze suddenly picked up to about 15 knots, forcing skippers to quickly adjust sail settings and rethink their race strategies.

The NS14 fleet was back to strength this week, with five boats contesting the event. It was good to see Aaron Hancock and Paul Smith back on the water.

Taking an early lead and revelling in the conditions, Hancock proved he hadn't lost his touch over the break by taking an easy first place. Second over the line was Dennis Boyd, who sailed a tactical race and made few errors.

Greg Brotherson and Morgen Parkin were third. Handicap results handed the honours to Paul Smyth, with Paul Smith second and Boyd third.

The Laser fleet fielded nine starters, with a broad mix of experience and youth. Karl Cooksley (experience) made easy work of the big breeze and, despite an unexpected capsize late in the race, was first over the line. Peter Zietsch was second and James Harrison third.

On his first outing of the season, Tony Smith put in a sizzling performance in the first lap, before a couple of unfortunate swims put him out of contention. Handicap honours went to Cooksley, Zietsch and Smith.

In the catamaran fleet, Tony Rose demonstrated again the performance of his 14' Arrow Cat by completing the course 20 minutes before any monohulls to take first place. Greg Lee and Debra Michell had their 16' Mosquito Cat tuned to perfection and despite almost cartwheeling during a particularly big gust, finished the course in a fast time.

The junior Bic division had its first big outing of the season, with six fearless youngsters having a great time in the windy conditions. Jack Hancock, Andy Landenberger, Max Rose, Luke Solomon and Sam and Zack Young all earned the admiration of the senior ranks as they recovered from their many capsizes and went on to complete a challenging race.

Hancock was first over the line, with Landenberger second and Sam Young third.

On Saturday and Sunday, the club will be conducting its annual Jacaranda Regatta. Competitors and spectators are welcome to come along and join in a great weekend's sailing.

For more information, go to

Topics:  clarence river sailing

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