Our Small Cat fleet returned from a very enjoyable weekend at Callala Bay. Tony Sanderson, Ross Fyfe, Paul Leaudais and Jody Mathews came with stories of too much wind on the Saturday followed by a Sunday with drifter conditions at one end of the course and a brilliant nor'easter at the other! It must have made for some interesting racing. Here are some photos that were posted on Facebook.
Thanks to Paul English and Jack Kroek for volunteering for Rescue duty on the day. Although the four F11's and a Sharpie that raced made it look easy, it would have been very tough for the cat fleets, I think.
A warm welcome to familiar faces returning from the winter layoff. Ralf Steyer back from caravanning in Qld and sporting a tan that should be illegal two months before summer has officially arrived. For Tony Zhara, this would be his first outing flying 'solo' on the trapeze with the Whitewave newly configured in Super Sloop mode.
In addition to the two returning veterans, the small cat fleet was boosted by Greg MacPherson joining us with his recently acquired Windrush Sloop to take his family out day sailing. Welcome to the fleet Greg!
As the boats rigged up, the usual suspects could be seen sharing banter - including Bill Ledger, Paul Leaudais, Jack Kroek, Ross Fyfe, Tony Sanderson and Jody Mathews.
Initially, the breeze appeared fairly benign with Greg MacPherson going out early with his young family crewing - and reaching back and forth in front of the foreshore - perhaps wishing for more breeze. After midday the Nor'easter really started to kick in and there was plenty of breeze to be had. No doubt about that!
I believe everyone made their way out to the starting area with Jack Kroek just making it out in time - and Tony Z tentatively testing out the trapeze. He stayed upright all day which is always a good sign. (ha)
The fleet hit the start line at 14:19:05, with everyone preferring the left hand side of the course. By the time the big cats passed them - on the second windward leg, I could see Jack Kroek narrowly leading from Ralf Steyer and Paul Leaudais very close behind. The conditions were trying to say the least with some heavy gusts blasting down off the headland - and it became a battle of attrition with Jody wisely retiring - followed by more retirees in Bill Ledger on the Nacra 14Sq, Ross Fyfe, Tony Zhara and Tony Sanderson.
Actually, I heard (second hand) that at one point Tony Sanderson was separated from his Windrush and had to be rescued by a local fisherman who kindly returned him to his craft. Not fun at all!
My highly sought after shore crew Lois (and part-time spy) informs me that when she assisted some of the retirees ashore, 3 out of 5 said "I wasn't having fun anymore..." or words to that effect.
In the end, Jack Kroek prevailed in the blustery conditions, finishing 63 seconds ahead of Paul Leaudais with Ralf Steyer third. With only three finishers out of eight starters, it was obviously a tough day at the office for all and sundry. I'm glad to report there were no injuries or gear damaged.
Its been an eventful start to the season with only 3 out of 5 races contested due to heavy conditions. Hopefully, when Hugh Lewis returns from Europe everything will return to normal again.
Next weekend is Pointscore 6 and the long range forecast from Willyweather is for a 22 knot southerly. Well, hmmmm, we shall see. Have a safe trip home Hughie if you're reading this!
Regards, Ross Boyd (on behalf of Hugh Lewis)