The weekend of December 1 and 2 was the date for the WA IOM State Championship. The regatta was held this year in the lovely seaside town of Albany, which is a 4 and a half hour drive south of Perth. The locals were looking forward to welcoming the visitors and a great turn-out was evident.
15 visitors made the journey mostly on the Friday prior. The bakery in Mount Barker would have received a steady stream of radio sailors looking to sample the BEST pies you will ever find. Mine was a Scallop pie, which was magnificent! On Friday afternoon, you could find a few skippers sneaking down to the marina far a sneaky practice sail in conditions which would prove to be pretty standard for the whole weekend.
Measurer Roger Paul set up a measurement and weighing check in the motel on Friday afternoon. Most of the boats made it through, with only a couple having to take the drill to the bulb! Worst offender was one of our beloved honest butchers, whose fin turned out to be a bit over, but whose boat turned out to be a fair bit under! Well – lead was found and duly fitted, and before long all was in order. “I forgot that I shifted those weights” was the excuse – but knowing old mate pretty well, that was understandable.
Friday night was spent at the Middleton Beach Fish and Chippery – the place had won “Australia’s Best Fish and Chips” award last year, AND they served beer – as Rosco commented, “Who would have thought?”. On the way home, we called in to see the “Field of Lights” installation on Mt. Clarence. This is a 16000 LED light artwork built to celebrate the centenary of the and of the Great War. Albany was the take-off point for the majority of Australia’s fighting troops in Europe, and Mt. Clarence would have been one of the last sights of the country for many soldiers. It was quite a moving exhibition.
Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny, with a 10 to 15 knot south-westerly wind blowing white caps on the sound. The forecast was for it to build, and before long, we were sailing in 15 to 18 knots – beautiful B rig conditions.
Race Officers Hub Bell and Warren Rock took control of the regatta, and following words of welcome to the travellers, we were off. There were a total of 19 boats which made it to the start on Saturday morning – 4 locals and13 Perthies were joined by our special guests Norm Wallis from SA and Barry Donaher who had come all the way from Scotsdale Arizona in the mighty USA.
Two fleets were in order, given that the marina isn’t all that big. Glenn Dawson won the B fleet seeding and Sean Wallis won the A. This set up what was to become an epic battle over the weekend.
Once racing settled into the regular 4 up and 4 down pattern, there were a few interesting things take place. Michael Cameron had sailed radio controlled boats about 5 years ago, and had left to pursue full size sailing. He sold his big boat and purchased Warren Rock’s Britpop. Warren bought the boat down to Albany with him, and helped Michael rig it and set it up. The second race out, and Michael came away with the bullet. Warren must have been thinking that the price was too low, and Michael was thrilled with the purchase!
Ian Sherriff had a couple of great races on Saturday, as did Peter Buchanan. The racing was quite close. The wind stayed steady all day, but there were some shifts which could be found to elevate (or help you slip) up the fleet. Unfortunately, Denton and Peter had troubles with their electrics – both with quite unusual problems which took a while to diagnose and fix. Not a good way to start a weekend regatta.
Barry Donaher couldn’t believe his luck, getting to sail with B rig all day. Where he sails, they are lucky to get any more than 5 to 8 knots. His B rig had only been on the boat once or twice, and the C rig had never seen the light of day. It took Barry a little while to get the hang of sailing the boat in the stronger wind, but he will certainly be better for the experience. Early in the day, Roger Paul had some good races, until a few gremlins got a hold of him, and caused a couple of problems.
Following 11 races overnight, Sean held a 0.2 point lead over Glenn, with Ian Sherriff in third by a very small margin from Rob Mews and Michael Cameron.
On Saturday night, the group all met at the White Star Pub and Grill for another great night out. It did get a bit late for the weary skippers, but fortunately the food was good, the beer and wine was flowing and everyone was having a good time.
We woke on Sunday morning to overcast skies, a bit of drizzle and a 5 to 8 know south-westerly. The wind veered to the south and then back to the south-west just as racing was about to commence, putting the duty boat to work trying to set the course to chase the wind. Fortunately, the breeze settled in and racing got underway about 9.30am.
The marina was buzzing on the Sunday morning, with a huge vintage and classic car show to one side and a band playing at the café drawing plenty of spectators. At times there were possibly a hundred people watching the races, with people making their predictions about the “blue one” or the “red one” likely to win. It was a terrific advertisement for the local club, and we hope that it bought good publicity for them.
In the lighter winds, Andrew Grist found it more to his boat’s liking, and the Goth was moving pretty well. Chris Woods and Norm Wallis were fighting it our for “the most number of races sailed” over the weekend, both being on the bubble. They couldn’t say that they didn’t get their money’s worth!
Both Bruce Robins and Simon Ellis were having their moments, finding some good boat speed at times. Locals Greg Westerberg and Rob Freeborough will certainly have learnt a lot from sailing in good company for the weekend. The benefit of participating will be seen next time the club meets, as they are likely to have made good strides forward.
At the pointy end, the lead was changing after every race. Glenn would get 0.8 of a point ahead in one race, and Sean would get that point back in the next to establish his 0.2 point lead. In the lighter winds, Edgar Vitte came to the fore and found some excellent boatspeed to rack up a couple of heat wins. Rob and Ian were trying desperately to hold off the fast finishing Edgar to make it to the podium, so another battle was ensuing there.
Coming into the last two races, Sean took the lead with his customary 0.2 point margin. Glenn slipped up in the second last race, letting Sean get away. However, Edgar and Barry helped Glenn out by sailing great races keeping Sean to a third. So that race basically didn’t change anything. At the start of the last race, Sean managed to hold Glenn out on starboard and whilst the rest of the fleet took off to what looked like the favoured side, there were two boats driving further and further left.
However, as the two of them tacked back, a massive left hand shift hit, and the two boats came racing back. Sean made it first, followed by Edgar and Glenn. From there, he slapped a cover on and there was no way Glenn was going to get a passing lane. Glenn tried a couple of flyers, but to no avail, and Sean skipped out to the biggest lead of the regatta – a 2.2 point margin.
The closeness of the racing on the water mirrored the closeness of the scores. Many races resulted in Sean and Glenn finishing within a boat length of one another. It made for good drama for the spectators.
The final podium place was a close tussle, with Edgar taking the chocolates by just one point from Rob Mews, and a further four to Ian Sherriff. That was a titanic struggle too.
At the Presentation, President Denton thanked Hub and Warren for their efforts in keeping the regatta organised and running at a good pace. We are really lucky to have Ray Forsyth do the scoring for us. Ray has indicated that he will be travelling next year, and won’t be available regularly. We thank Ray for all the events that he has kept score and hope that he won’t be a total stranger. Mike Applebee made the trip to Albany to assist, and he was thanked for his efforts as well.
We also thanked our terrific hosts who put an awful lot of work into the State Championships, including getting an article in the local paper during the week, setting up a couple of caravans and marquee shelters, making all the arrangements to book the marina as well as the daily set up of courses as well as safety lines in case a boat got blown towards the rock walls.
Ian Hebiton, Greg Westerberg, Harrold Keay and Michael Cameron in particular put in a lot of effort to making the weekend a success. If I have neglected anyone in my thanks, please accept my apologies – and thank you too! It was a terrific weekend.
And finally, thanks to all our wives and partners who travelled with us to Albany. We appreciated your company at the various social events and hope that you enjoyed your weekends despite your silly sailing men spending most of their time on the water.
HARRINGTON WATERS RS