It’s not unusual to go racing at night, but what is unusual is to do it under lights and in sports boats.
The Wharf Tavern Rum Runner Night Series, The Girls did a super job to sail through the soft breeze to win the first night
Mooloolaba Yacht Club has two Elliott 6ms, previously owned by the Australian Sailing Team, the perfect competition amphitheatre on Mooloolah River in front of The Wharf Mooloolaba and a whole bunch of very eager sailors.
The Wharf is located well within the main river at Mooloolaba, right next to the centre of town. Within the complex are a number of shops, Underwater World and The Wharf Tavern, right on the river front and with plenty of room for spectators to watch sailboat racing up close and personal.
MYC Rear Commodore Sailing, Gary McCarthy, explained the idea behind the night racing. 'Since the two Elliotts arrived in Mooloolaba in January this year, we have been using them for river sailing. We started off with afternoon sailing when the wind was too strong to conduct a fun race offshore.
The Wharf Tavern Rum Runner series' are about having as much fun as possbile with mates at a superb venue
'Then we got a group together of 14 women sailors, gave them the boats and a coach, and challenged them to take their sailing to another level.
'Next was to use the two boats for some short, 15 minute, windward/leeward races on the river on a Friday afternoon. Named the Rum Runner Twilight Series, the top three teams on each race afternoon won a bottle Bundaberg Rum, considered in this part of the world as nectar for a yachtie.
'Those not racing sat at The Wharf Tavern tables on the river edge providing raucous commentary and plenty of outside assistance. The turn over between the ten teams competing each afternoon was short so we could get in at least two races for each team.
'Once that Rum Runner Twilight Series was over, the sailors wanted to know how quickly we could get another one organised. Well, with autumn round the corner, but Friday afternoon still considered the best day to organise a post-work sail, the only option was to look at racing from late afternoon into the night,' McCarthy said.
A lot of creative thinking has gone into the designing of suitable lighting on the boats and from the shore. Apart from navigation lights on the bow, the Elliotts carry lights down the mainsail. The buoys also carry strobe lights even though there is plenty of ambient light from The Wharf complex and from the large houses on the opposite shore.
The series started last Friday with six teams racing in light conditions. Competitor numbers are currently limited to 10 teams. The lighting worked very well, the racing was tight and there was plenty of noise from the experts on shore. The first evening was cut short at 7pm due to the breeze disappearing before the 8pm cut-off.
Racing is on again next Friday afternoon from 4pm in the six-date series.
The club is due to receive another four Elliott 6ms in late July. While there are long-term plans to use the boats for state and national Match Racing events, the first priority is the club’s Youth Development Program and more day and night racing Rum Runner series with more teams able to compete in the larger fleet.