TIGHT RACING: The tightly packed NS14 fleet competing in a Clarence River Sailing Club event. Photo Contributed by Dan Parkin
TIGHT RACING: The tightly packed NS14 fleet competing in a Clarence River Sailing Club event. Photo Contributed by Dan Parkin Contributed

Sailing on the Clarence back in action after winter break

SAILING returned to Grafton on Saturday after a seven-month break.

With floods earlier in the year followed by the usual winter recess, the weekend's racing was the first club event since January.

Eleven boats faced the starter in near perfect conditions. A three lap course of around 18 km was set - stretching from an upwind mark off Fry St to the leeward end off Susan Island. A long reach leg between the Marina and Duke St added some challenge with crews forced to jibe at both ends.

Racing got underway smoothly with all boats clearing the line without incident. The first upwind work was fast and hard - or at least seemed that way to all who hadn't been on a boat since last season. With the breeze relatively steady, long tacks from one side of the river to the other was the favoured strategy however the outgoing tide did slightly favour the southern bank.

In the Catamaran division, Greg Lee was the outstanding performer of the week. Getting away to a great start Lee pushed his Mosquito through the course with the results never in doubt.

After investing considerable time during the off-season tweaking and tuning his craft, Saturday's performance was well deserved.

Coming in second Neale Carter took a while to get his Paper Tiger up to speed but made some strong gains in the last lap.

Brian Wright led the Laser fleet in the early stages closely followed by a very determined James Harrison.

Relishing in the fresher gusts the pair pushed each other hard particularly on the long upwind legs. A short distance behind Peter Zietsch and Neil Burgess kept pace with the leaders ready to pounce when the opportunity arose.

This came during the second downwind run when the wind speed picked up from the rear favouring the trailing boats.

Once in front, the breeze eased again giving the advantage to the lighter crews for the upwind work. As the fleet approached the finish, conditions switched yet again but not quickly enough for Wright and Harrison to make up the ground they needed.

Final results were Peter Zietsch 1st, Neil Burgess 2nd and Brian Wright 3rd. Remarkably - after nearly two hours racing all five Lasers finished within one minute of each other on yardstick corrected time.

In the NS14 division, Greg Brotherson and crew Morgan Parkin showed some great teamwork by taking out the honours with a comfortable margin after a slow start and a minor altercation with the Laser fleet.



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