Once around Cabarita the spinnaker was hoisted and flown, well we tried to at least! Whether it was poor packing or just sheer bad luck with an unfavourable drop in wind, an hour-glass formed and quick action was called for. With Carl dropping the halyard some and a few tugs on the luff Paul quickly recovered the situation and Nuts had us ‘flying’ onward to no.1. Fortunately least time was lost and Still Festering remained at possible reach, although Axis meantime was running well under wind and restored some favourable ground behind.
Rounding up marker 1 it was then off to no.5 with a slight change in wind from the South-East and breeze was up. A few tacks along and the stand-in crew for Ron and Bam (names aside - ‘the two new guys’!!) showed exceptional skills at tacking, demonstrating to the veteran crew how to winch a jib sheet on the lower collar of the drum. Thankfully, the genoa was ¾ set, though the collar had amassed a spool of sheet that was found ‘wanting’ and wrapped to the winch alike the strangling grip of a python on its prey, and locked on tight. Some handy work from Carl and the sheet was freed to once again to bring on the headsail. From the luck of the gods again, least time was lost as we trailed Still Festering.
Approaching marker 5 as we came alongside the clubhouse, a flotilla of tubs and part Middle Harbour fleet filled the river and Bedlam Bay ahead. Accustomed to it all, Willo and Nuts ploughed us through unscathed to round up marker 5, gaining some sought after ground on the leading boat.
As the Middle Harbour fleet had joined us in the river with some crossover between Bedlam and no.5, some healthy yelling and conjecture was heard across the water, as we headed to no.1. We weren’t quite sure if it was ‘inter-fleet’ activity (i.e. PRSC Vs MHYC), but then we realised that Pat was actually well ahead up river so it mustn’t have been!
All boats with spinnakers set and sailing up river, Still Festering held a comfortable lead over the League OEG and Axis of Evil. With an extra hand on board this week, and a spinnaker that was ballooning bigger than Kim Kardashian, Axis was sailing with conviction and was making up some timely water on this leg. Unable to make any further gains ourselves on the lead boat, the League rounded up no.1 and tightened up for destination marker no. 4 again.
Unfazed from the previous winching dilemma, the ‘two new guys’ picked up their act on the tacking coordination and were finely executing some timely sheeting that would compete against the best of formula one engineers performing a wheel change and refuelling – the difference being only a fraction of a second in it! Whether that was the reason or it was Willo’s extraordinary high pointing on port tack alongside Cabarita (maybe ‘half a plank’ off the wharfs) and a timely lift that avoided the starboard tack all together, which now put us within harpoon distance from Still Festering. (…I think it maybe the later!).
Rounding no.4 marker and setting an early spinnaker Willo sailed a course that defied the winds once again and the breaching Cabarita wharf off to port side, to avoid any gybing. Straightening up river with no.1 marker in sight and the rear view of Still Festering ever closer, we held our water as we turned back into the wind and hauled for no.5. The wind had changed again and was now more easterly, making for a few more tacks this leg that kept the ‘two new guys’ well challenged, so getting help from Paul and Nuts was welcomed, while Carl packed the spinnaker for the final turn ahead.
Strategic tacking down into Abbotsford Bay gained much sought after water and had us now at a few boat lengths behind Still Festering as we approached no.5. With a tight rounding of the marker and a quick hoisting of the spinnaker, the gap was reduced to half a boat length, which was closing in fast as we held with a steady gust. Still Festering had kept this lead the entire race and sailed very high all day, but this was to change in the final leg – odds on, maybe this was due to a late skipper change with Pat now back behind the tiller!
As we sailed across Abbotsford point and the breeze began to lighten up, our new fractional lead on Still Festering was still yet to be challenged. They’d caught a light gust off the point and closed into half a boat length, holding the inside line to the finish. Axis of Evil was also holding its own as well and had made a revival with catching wind that neither boat in front were yet to see. It was certainly a race for the line, and the shortest one at that up for grabs. With Still Festering in a commanding position to take the win, The League OEG held its wind and surged to a gratifying ‘line honours’ finish with barely a pole length in it. Final line positions: 1st LOEG; 2nd SF; 3rd AOE
An exceptional end to a great day of racing. Congrat’s to all!
(No time though to spend revelling in glory, the looming storm coming over wasn’t to be waited upon. We sailed to calm water to make a swift drop of the sails and tidying of the deck. For those of us that got dropped off at Banjo’s wharf we were able to enjoy one or more ‘take-aways’ before heading back to the clubhouse with only moments to spare before the storm-of-all-storms hit the Parramatta river. I for one have never seen a heavier fall of rain on the river. Hope to hear that all were safe from the storm).
One of the ‘two new guys’