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Sailing resumes on Clarence

SAILING returned to Grafton on Saturday with the Clarence River Sailing Club conducting its first event on the 2012-13 calendar. Perfect spring weather coupled with a brisk easterly breeze got the season off to a flying start and despite the icy water skippers enjoyed an exhilarating afternoon of fast and wet sailing. With fitness levels and reflexes a bit rusty from the winter break, capsizes were more frequent than usual however the entire fleet still managed to complete the course in a surprisingly respectable time.

Race officials anguished over what course to set with the breeze shifting constantly between the south and north east. Finally a composite triangle and loop was agreed on which worked well in the conditions and provided some great reaching legs and challenging gybes at the marks. Nine boats faced the starter and racing got underway in a rapidly freshening breeze.

In the Laser fleet Karl Cooksley and Brian Wright got away quickly and set a course along the left hand side of the river. Peter Zietsch sailed off to the right and by the first mark all three had converged with only seconds between them. On the return leg Cooksley misjudged a wind shift under the bridge resulting in a spectacular capsize and leaving Wright in the lead with Zietsch in pursuit. Finally overtaking near the bottom mark, Zietsch's glory was short lived as a very determined Cooksley made a monumental comeback, reclaiming the lead again which he held to the finish. Starting over five minutes late because of some rigging problems, Steve Russell methodically worked his way through the fleet picking off each boat in turn and taking out a highly deserved second placing ahead of Peter Zietsch in third. After many years away from the sport, Brian Wright showed he's still got what it takes, finishing in fourth place with an excellent time.

The miscellaneous fleet saw two catamarans revelling in the breezy conditions. Tony Rose sailing an Arrow Cat sped around the course in only 54 minutes and claiming an easy win. Often out on trapeze and flying on one hull, Rose was clearly having a great time with his only complaint being the race was too short. Further back Greg Lee pushed his 14ft Cadet Cat to the limits and finished the distance in 1 hour 15 minutes.

"It was a great start to the season," according to Commodore Karl Cooksley. "And it can only get better" 'The Club has just purchased another three Bics for junior sailing and shortly we'll have a Yachting Australia accredited sailing instructor available' 'Our Laser fleet has really picked up and the club has four of these boats available for hire' 'Catamaran and NS14 numbers are also looking good and we're hoping for a big year'.

Sailing next Saturday will be round two of the Warm Up Series. Further information can be found on the club's website - www.crsc.yachting.org.au



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