The best thing about the Marlay Point Overnight Race, in my opinion, is not the race, but what happens before and after the race. If you are lucky enough to have a few extra days up your sleeve to float around the lake system on a trailer yacht, especially up the Lakes Entrance - Metung part of the world, the rewards are great. The myriad of little sand island are home to bird life of all descriptions. The entrance to the ocean at Lakes Entrance is home to dolphins and seals. It is truly a wonderful experience watching these creatures swim around and below you. The weather this year was eerily warm with 25 degree nights and 30 degree days. Ninety Mile Beach on the other side of Bunger Arm was kind enough and pleasant enough to have a body surf. This type of weather is something I have never experienced in my 25 years of venturing down this way.
And now to my interpretation of this year’s race, and in fact, the impression echoed by my sailing buddies who shared the experience (could also be called experience of torture).
If I tell you the weather report was for winds of up to a maximum of 5 knots it might give you some idea of the speeds expected of the 130 odd starters. To say there were many moments when we seriously considered retiring just to end the tedium would sum up the 14 hours of at times frustrating sailing.
For those of you who have completed the race on previous years you will no doubt understand the significance of the race being shortened at the Point Turner. That’s about one nautical mile before reaching Paynesville. Frou Frou was luckier than most of the fleet, streaking away at 0.6 of a knot while others were languishing at 0.3 of a knot. However the sailing gods did not go all our way. After we had finished the Southerly change came through bringing the rest of the fleet home in grand style. You know the saying “Things were going good then everything turned to ####”. Frou Frou did manage to finish first over the line and 4th on CBH in Division C.
It was a race for being warm but not for traveling fast. The sunrise was glorious bringing a smile to our sweaty faces (never thought I would be able to say that of a 6:00 am Gippsland Lake sunrise).
Will we be back again? That is a good question. If other PKSC boats went then no doubt we would seriously consider it again.