Just about everything operated in a small window. The waves were one to 1.5m, it was either freezing or just plain cold and a gap of sunshine was about as adventurous as it got before the tiny icicles returned to have you tugging at your collar once more. Thankfully, the breeze was also operating in a tight range – casual to fresh and even then, it barely spent any real time at the upper marker.
Usually, up to 150 vessels with some 1000 crew on board, racing across the four divisions and three categories on offer in each of them, appear from their pens around the top of the Bay, but even that today was a little narrower. Some did not want to come out to play after having been frozen solid for a whole week and others jumped at the opportunity to get some preparation done in readiness for heading out into the big blue come Christmas. Most that were around afterwards to talk about their no-show did indicate they were keen to come out for Round Two on November 9. Honest - their notes were signed by Epstein’s mother! Really….
One person who was very keen to see this large and season-long regatta happen once more was Simon McLean, the CEO of Principal Sponsor, Club Marine. 'We are excited to see racing commence in the 2013/14 Club Marine Series on Melbourne's Port Phillip. It is great to see such continuing and strong co-operation between the clubs around the Bay and we are looking forward to seeing who will win the Range Trophy. Club Marine is pleased to be associated with such a well run and safety conscious event and we wish everyone the best of luck for the upcoming series. Let the racing begin!'
And after that segue from the sponsor, it certainly did and in earnest at that, with two races on the cards for everyone before the 1325hrs prep gun had even been fired. So the jellybeans must have worked on everyone’s blood sugars, for Division Two had an Individual Recall for a few vessels, with Serious Yahoo possibly the worst offender at breaking the start. In Division Three, nearly all vessels were at fault after an overtly aggressive pre-start ended up with a shemozzle at the Committee Boat end and so PRO, David LeRoy had no option but to call them all back to see if they could organise themselves for a more orderly and friendly start.
Now they are not narrow, but actually fairly beamy (wide) for their length. Yes. They are Sports Boats and there would be around 20 in the greater catchment for Port Phillip. Chris Bland showed up with Star to see if he could get them enthused about coming out to join in the Club Marine Series Division Two party, with he and his two additional crew certainly looking like they were having a wow of a time out there. As a lot of additional Sports Boats are coming to Melbourne for various events, and these are at similar times to future rounds of the CMS, it is expected that more will try out this regatta. Provisions have been made for these craft to be launched from both Royal Brighton and the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria.
So if everything was to be constrained to a tight set of parameters, then someone forgot to tell certain classes that this was to be the case. In Division Two, the evergreen and ever-popular Adams 10s did not get the memo, and in Division Three it was the S80s that had not read the email. With over half a dozen of each out there, the differential between the leaders and laggards was quite marked and was a real paradox to the day as a whole. In the Adams 10s, 2Xtreme was right up there. Perhaps it was because Stu and Emma Schaefer were out sailing. At any rate, it was a good showing, for in the first race they were ahead of serial podium occupiers and reigning IRC Class C National Champions, Executive Decision.
Another vessel making the most of their day was Jason Close’s, White Noise. They had won the new, coaching for a day prize. Now it is not just any old sailor who comes out to train you and your crew, but two-time foiling Moth World Champion, Rohan Veal of the yacht brokerage, 38 South. One crew will win Rohan for each of the remaining six rounds of the Club Marine Series. Entering is a very simple process. All you have to do is send an email describing why you need a coach for a day and the best will receive the prize. See Club Marine Series for more information regarding this sensational opportunity.
'It was really great to have Rohan’s invaluable advice support and to get Sam Haines of UK Sailmakers on board as well, was just terrific. What a day. The crew and I picked so much and am just delighted to have been right up with the leading craft on the day', said Jason.
Greg Sinclair was the Race Officer over on the Western side, in charge of the Division Zero and One course, which had a combined start today. They had an axis of 225? over a range of 1.9nm and this went to 195? and was shortened a little, as well. For Race One, Ikon chose the boat end and Calm2 barrelled through mid fleet. It was a clean start, except for Halcyon, who was On Course Side (OCS) and they took a while to return back and go through again, as they were buried in the pack heading out West. It was 12-15knots from the Sou’westerly quadrant for most of the racing, with the occasional glimpse of something working in towards 20 knots.
It tried very hard to clock to the left and ultimately succeeded as the last of the fleet finished or was on the way home. In a year when the era of the classic 12m America’s Cup boats are being celebrated, it was pleasing to see the Fremantle trial horse, Kookaburra do well uphill, as she put her 25tonne mass to good use, dispensing with any waves that may have come her way. The TP52, Calm2, took line honours, and then it was XLR8 and Rush with Ikon leading Division One home.
PRO David LeRoy was running the Division Two and Three course on the Eastern side of the main shipping channel. An axis of 230? over a range of 1.4nm was set and this was moved to 200? and then 220? in second race, so some crews who were off to the right a little were able to work that in to their planning. This would change again, as the left hook, to as much as 150? for the wind direction. The bottom mark stayed as the first crews were already around.
'A challenging day for sailors and Race Committee alike. Up until the end, the shifts were there for sailors to make the most of it. It all got a little close during that start for Division Three, so the Black Flag sorted them out. Well all except for Johnny Be Goode, who jumped out too early. Ikon, hailing from Hobsons Bay Yacht Club wins the McCutcheon Cup for their outstanding achievements in IRC today with the combined result in Divisions Zero and One', said David.
OK then, we’re off to the results tables. In the smaller than usual Division Zero, it was a day for Rush, who collected the coveted win in the IRC measurement category for both races. She would also hold the Performance Handicap System (PHS) mantle, as well. Calm 2 would be second in IRC and XLR8 third, with the minor placing reversing order for PHS.
So if you had a Rush in Div0, then you needed to have an Ikon in Div1. The reigning Class B IRC National Champion, Ikon, was right up to it from the get go, with wins in both IRC and AMS for both races, she stood well atop the podium at the end of the day. Mentions go to both Rod Miller’s, Gienah, and also Mille Sabords, with the former being in second place on the AMS scoreboard after the two races, and the latter leading the competitive Sydney 38s home across the water in the first race. Stephane Howarth of Mille Sabords will be delighted to be sitting behind Schüss and in front of Halcyon on the PHS scoreboard.
'Great to have got the boat going well after some average starts. We were working hard on the shifts out on the course, so well done to the crew. Truly delighted with the result and we did not make any mistakes, which is a good way to get around the course anytime. A second place in that fleet is a pleasing result', said Rod Miller from Gienah.
It’s a good thing 2Xtreme did well out on the track after the big wrap earlier. A win in the first race of the day and fourth in the second under IRC sees them atop that table, with White Noise and Executive Decision on the same points. Top Gun and Merlion sit in behind them. Robert Hick’s Toecutter was dominant under AMS, but a good mention is required for Phil Bedlington’s Under Capricorn, because a third and a second place have them sitting just three points adrift of Toecutter and two ahead of White Noise. Both White Noise and under Capricorn did have stellar days out there and are in first and second for PHS, respectively, ahead of the always-at-the-pointy-end-of-the-fleet, Dark Energy.
Proving that they’re good, whether fully crewed or two-handed, as they were today, was Intrusion. A first and second place on the day in IRC sees them atop that list, with Merak just one point behind them and four clear of Up ‘n Go. One really wants to mention Skipjack as well, for Bill Feore and co are one point out of calculations currently, but as a former handicap winner of the 1880-odd nautical mile Melbourne to Vanuatu race, he’s one to keep checking in on.
Intrusion are equal first in AMS, too, with a boat named, Good Question, in second and the super-reliable, Watermark II in third place. In this division, first to fifteenth place can all be amongst it on paper, so you do need to cast your eye across the broader spectrum. Merak hold the PHS title for now, from Imaginer and then Intrusion, so a good day for Round Two may well set up someone for a handy and possibly winning margin.
If you're based in Melbourne and think the Club Marine Series sounds like great fun, then you’d be right. So come out and get amongst it. Casual entry is welcome and in fact, very much encouraged! Just use you home club's entry system and you are in... The next round is on November 9, 2013, so get your crew organised now.
Division Blue is a new initiative to get novice skippers and/or crew out racing from fleet starts and begin the process of learning their boat and the rules and nuances of racing. The Notice of Race will be out shortly, in time for Round Two on November 9. If your short of crew, perhaps see the Melbourne Sailing website, where there are around 40 sailors looking to get into sailing and out on the water. They range from beginners to intermediates, but all are keen. Full details can be found at Event Website
Many thanks to all the participants for being involved in the Club Marine Series, but also and especially the many volunteers it takes to run two courses on the day, let alone the preparation beforehand. For braving the cold on the day, thank you, as too Yachting Victoria and the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria who provided the media vessels for the day.
The Club Marine Series is proudly sponsored by Australia's largest provider of recreational boat insurance - details and full information about the series can be found at Event Website