The warm and breezy weather conditions enticed a fleet of 10 yachts to cross the bar for the last race of the Sailing the Bay winter series conducted by Batemans Bay Sailing Club.
The day provided the best sailing of the eight-race series with yachts duelling around the course which culminated in an exciting close finish for four yachts to determine the final placings of the series.
The handicap start race welcomed new entrants “Lollipop”, a Spencer 27 skippered by Deb Keeley, and “Motion”, a Bounty 35 with Paul Knaap at the helm.
“Lollipop” joined “Horizon” (Michelle Grybaitis) as the scratch boats for the noon start and it wasn’t long before she took her eyes off the horizon and sailed an unofficial leg to Chain Bay.
“Motion”, with experienced crew Hugh Brown, sailed her maiden race impressively under a genoa only as the main halyard shackle was out of reach at the top of the mast and the mainsail remained flaked.
The race was sailed fast in two groups with front runners “Eirene” (John McCloskey) and “Hobo“ (Peter Withington) enjoying the gusting north west wind varying 8-22 knots. These boats were beating towards Yellow Rock from the Toll Gates mark when the fleet back markers were rounding only the first mark at Square Head and were never passed thereafter.
Sailing between these groups was “Charlie Barr 3” (Mel Knowles and Col Stone), putting in another improved performance in her maiden race series then followed by “Motion”.
Meanwhile, it was all happening within the second group: a race within a race.
The second leg of the course from Square Head to the Toll Gates saw “Ghoster” flying her big black spinnaker taking advantage of the wind direction and sailing directly towards the next mark.
Others flying gennakers were adjusting to the varying wind strengths, angles and adding extra distances to sail.
The penultimate leg from Yellow Rock to Square Head before finishing at Caseys Beach revealed different strategies with boats either hugging the north side of the Bay as did “North Star” and “Ghoster” or tacking down the middle like “Attitude“ and “Xanthia”.
The final leg to Caseys Beach saw boats trying to improve their positions by either tacking close to the rocks of Snapper Island or “winging” it further out in the Bay before the reach to the finish line.
“Attitude”, who was threatening to be first of this group, experienced a spinnaker mishap which allowed others to close the gap.
The four boats finished within a few minutes of one another with “Ghoster” leading this group over the line.
Results - Race 8: 1 Eirene ;2 Hobo ;3 Ghoster ;4 Attitude ;5 Xanthia; 6 North Star;7 Charlie Barr 3; 8 Horizon; 9 Motion ; DNF Lollipop.
The Winter Series Presentation was held afterwards at JJS at the Marina.
Another successful series with local skipper James Gardiner of “Xanthia” winning the Shield trophy with second place to “Ghoster” (Dion Perrins) and a tie between “Attitude” (John Reed) and “North Star” (John Drummond).
Everyone present acknowledged the great support from sponsors – JJs, Batemans Bay Marina Management, King Bros Marine, Power & Sail and Revolution Sails whose prizes were presented to the place-getters.