WA skippers were really fortunate to be able to gather down in Albany for a weekend regatta. 16 skippers made the trip down from Perth to join 6 of the locals for an event on the Albany club's new lake.
Some Perth skippers took the opportunity to have a few days holiday in Albany during the week, and the remainder drove down on Friday. As is becoming the "norm", most headed for the Mount Barker Bakery for lunch. That is pretty much a mandatory stop these days!
Friday afternoon there were a couple of boats out on the lake, notably two guys entering their first IOM event - Max Hunter and Brad Sheridan. Max had taken delivery of a V10 out of Queensland and Brad has purchased a great looking woodie Corby - also from the Sunshine State. Max and Brad got their boats sorted out despite the advice of quite a few skippers!
Friday night was wild. Well - it was really really windy - not the kind of wild you were thinking. A massive front rolled through with 45 knot winds and rain coming in horizontally. Fortunately, come morning the conditions had abated to a good solid B rig wind.
The lake in Albany has been dug out and enlarged thanks to the Albany Council. The Albany Radio Sailing Club worked with the Council to establish this venue for the club. The lake is situated in the sporting complex, with football fields, hockey pitches and the like all around. There are few wind obstructions making for a pretty good place to sail. Initial impressions were that the lake was a little too short, but for local events in which the fleet size can be managed, it is just big enough.
Wet weather gear was the order of the day early. A few rain squalls came through, but fortunately they cleared as the day unfolded. Our Race Officer for the weekend was Harold Keays, and he was ably supported by Andree Bennett on the scoring, Geoff Oliver in the boat as well as a number of volunteers who offered their time to help run the event.
Two fleets of 11 boats on the water and the seeding races were done. Glenn Dawson took off for three wins on the trot, but that was to be short lived. Sean Wallis lost a couple of races to gear failure, but one he got that sorted out, proved to be the boat to catch. Ross Bennett was consistently racking up podium finishes, and Edgar Vitte also managed a few heat wins. However, nobody could match Sean's consistency.
Saturday night found a few skippers meeting at one of the local pubs for a meal, which was really good. However, the pub decided that loud music was more of a feature than a bunch of radio sailors drinking, so we finished our meals to the rather loud strains of some band. Fortunately there was another pub right next door, so we simply jumped ship and found a place we could hang out.
Sunday morning dawned windless, calm, glassed out. Ever the optimists, skippers turned up to the lake in the hope of something happening. Well, for once we were not disappointed and a nice gentle breeze blew in from the north. Racing got underway on time and Harold kept the racing moving promptly.
The light weather suited Edgar, who churned out a couple of wins and Roger Paul got a win too. It was clear that we were all racing for the minor placings, with Ross, Glenn and Edgar moving in and out of the top three. By the end of the day, Glenn managed to hold out Ross for second with Edgar finishig in fourth.
Other skippers to have good weekends were Cliff Davis, who spent all of day 1 in A fleet. Cliff's big mistake was telling us that fact, as day 2 fixed that problem! Mike Cameron and Peter Buchanan had times where their boats were sailing fast, but like many others, maintaining those performances proved to be problematic.
One "feature" of the lake is an aeration fountain in the middle of the pond with 3 tubes inside a 6 inch central tube. "No-one has ever got stuck that thing" was the advice we were given. Well, between races with a momentary relaxation of attention, Bruce Robins managed to absolutely face plant the three tubes and lodge his bow right in the middle, whilst travelling downwind. There was no way he could extract the boat. It was a feat worthy of comment - you couldn't do that if you tried!
The local Albany guys are certainly improving in their performances. Mike Cameron, Andrew Grist (on day 2) and Phil Ramsden are all sailing really well. Greg Westerberg, Ian Hebiton and Murray Howson are also showing improvement. Hopefully the input from some of the Perth guys will help these skippers to improve their performances even further.
Everyone who attended would like to thank all the Albany members for their terrific hospitality and contributions for the weekend. We look forward to these trips greatly. The regatta was sailed with great sportsmanship and cammaraderie. Terrific sailing venue, great social side and something to which we would encourage more Perth skippers to consider coming along for these fun and relaxed weekends.