A GENTLE and steady easterly breeze provided ideal conditions for the final race in the Clarence River Sailing Club's Warm Up Series on Saturday.
Despite the occasional sharp gust that kept crews on the alert, sailing was relaxed and easy, and a perfect way to spend a warm spring afternoon.
This week's course was a basic triangle with a double loop around the base. The windward mark was set downstream off Oliver Street. Once rounded, crews had a lazy run back to a mark at Services Club followed by three fast reaching legs back and forth across the river before heading back upwind to the finish. Three laps were completed in a little over an hour.
The NS14 fleet saw some very close racing between Dennis Boyd and Stuart Hancock. Getting a great start, Dennis tacked away early into clear air and soon had a comfortable lead. Stuart found himself trapped deep in the pack and unable to pursue his rival until breaking free just near the bridge. From here the race was on - with both skippers using their enormous wealth of experience to read the conditions and extract every ounce of speed from their boats. With the gap closing quickly near the finish and both skippers trying every manoeuvre and rig adjustment to get the advantage, Dennis managed to hang on and shot across the line just one second ahead of his opponent.
Steve Russell revelled in the lighter conditions and dominated the Laser fleet. In training for his tilt at the World Laser Masters early next year and sailing extremely well, he took the lead early and kept increasing it all the way to the finish. Further back in the field Karl Cooksley and Peter Zietsch tussled for the minor placings with both enjoying tight racing and taking turns at the lead until an unfortunate capsize in the last lap put Zietsch out of contention. Neill Burgess made a remarkable recovery in the second lap. Coming from near the back he charged through the fleet finding breeze and currents that no one else could, and had almost caught up when a sudden wind shift stopped his run.
The club has just purchased two Open Bic junior training boats.
These craft are fast and nimble with an open cockpit for quick draining and are sure to be big hit with young sailors.
Anyone interested in sailing is welcome to come down to the club any Saturday afternoon and give it a try. More details on www.crsc.yachting.org.au.