Wednesday 25th Jan was a lovely evening for a race. With a stiff breeze of over 20 knots, we put the mainsail up with a reef in the pre-start warm-up, but as the wind was north-westerly and our first leg looked like it would be down-wind, we shook it out. Our course was C for Charlie – a triangle via Punches Reef, Howrah and back to the start line (mark A), then a ‘sausage’ down to mark X in the middle of the river and back to the finish line – quite a long race, but with plenty of wind we would make good time and have plenty of fun!
Our fleet was rather depleted, with only nine boats in our division. With the Australia Day public holiday the next day some were heading off for a long, long weekend on the water or elsewhere, whilst others had taken the opportunity to enter the special night-race to Zuidpool Rock – a small reef in the middle of the lower D’Entrcasteaux Channel, roughly on a line between Ventenat Point and Huon Island. From Hobart to Zuidpool Rock and back is a distance of 60 nautical miles (1nm = 1.8km for you landlubbers). This long overnight race can count towards the required experience for yachts and crews entering ocean races, such as the Launceston or Sydney to Hobart races. The next morning, as Derek and I arrived at the boat for our own long, long weekend, we met some of the sleep-deprived crews who had just returned.
With only nine in division B we had a better chance, and kept in touch with the leaders as we headed for Punches Reef. On board we had a crew of 5 strong young men – our regulars Tim, Willem, Nick, Rohan and Paul, and newby Lachlan (a temporary swap for seim-regular Lochy). The strong winds meant plenty of work for everyone. I was happy to hand the hard main-sheet work over to Rohan, which meant I could sneak in some opportunities to take photos.
The division A boats had been set the same course, and over the course of the race we seemed to be catching up the five-minute gap. The final leg to X and back provided some good photo opportunities.
Dinner in the club-house was a fairly small affair with so few boats on the river, but we were happy to receive a bottle of wine for our second place! We had sailed a pretty good race. Despite the favourable odds, however, we still didn’t win the lucky door prize of a carton of beer. Good thing there are still plenty of beers on board.