Prizes Awarded to Last and Second-Last
With a couple of owners overseas or interstate, others preparing their boats for cruising or sale, one boat up on the slips, and one more keen to hit a small, white ball around a large, green paddock, it was always going to be a small fleet that contested the first race of the 2019-2020 season. However it proved even smaller when Cap’n David on Martela found he had three flat batteries. Sailing off the mooring wouldn’t be a problem, but returning in forecast light winds might be. At about the same time, Cap’n Graeme discovered that G-Whizz was pushing more steam than water from the exhaust so it couldn’t be offered as a later towing vessel. Cap’n Hugh on Megisti offered its services but these were thankfully but politely declined due to the size differential between Martela and Megisti. And so Cap’n David had to make the painful decision not to race, with only alcohol on board as consolation for Cap’n and crew.
This left only two boats in what might be described as a mis-match race: a 25-footer with a seven-minute handicap vs a 34-footer with a 37-minute handicap. How would they fare?
Megisti was away in a light breeze that had more North than forecast and had disappeared from sight by the time Cap’n Ann (note change of skipper) moved G-Whizz across the start line. Progress was slow, and just after passing the SWM off Bradleys, G-Whizz assumed the position of an island rather than a racing yacht as the wind dropped almost completely before slowly turning to the predicted southerly. It’s remarkable how fast 5 knots can seem when compared to 0 knots!
G-Whizz was away, but eyes were peeled for Megisti, expecting to see it somewhere returning from the Manly East mark. It turned out, however, that Megisti had experienced the same lull, just further up the course, so as G-Whizz approached the Manly West mark, its crew were surprised but happy to see that Megisti was only a few hundred metres ahead, also yet to round Manly West.
Megisti had a good spinnaker drop and rounding of both West and East marks and headed further East before turning South. Cap’n Ann, without the bother of a spinnaker drop, followed suit, and perhaps went even further East before tacking. The plan was to pass Sow and Pigs to the West and make one tack to round the Eastern Channel mark. Meanwhile, Megisti had fallen off to the point where they were almost between Middle Head and Dobroyd Head before they tacked seaward. At that point, G-Whizz was ahead and looked like it would also be well ahead at the EC mark. However, an unfavourable wind shift for G-Whizz, combined with two quick legs by Megisti, meant that the latter was actually the first to pass the EC mark. The race was still anyone’s to win, or lose.
It was then up to G-Whizz to chase Megisti down which she did before Steele Point, and managed to hold her lead to the finish line. Well done Cap’n Ann!
Back at the “club house” (Blues Point Hotel), the celebrations were quiet, for reasons mentioned in the first para, but nonetheless convivial as crews from both boats celebrated their success at achieving second-last and last … err, first and second, places.