by John Curnow
In a series constituting numerous races held over seven event days from November to March, you almost have to factor it in. Add to that the Club Marine Series’ location on Melbourne’s Port Phillip, and also the sheer weight of precedence with the previous six rounds being sunny, warm and totally hospitable, then it was effectively a lay down misère that this final outing was bound to be blowy, wet and almost a tad miserable.
Not sure you need a caption for this! - Club Marine Series
At around seven in the morning, the top of the Bay was showing very light Nor’easters, whilst down at the bottom, they had only a slightly stronger Sou’wester wafting through. That really was enough to indicate that something would occur at some point during the day. Half an hour later, the top had nothing and depending on where you were located, you could be in beaming sunshine or experiencing rain designed to quench the ground’s thirst after such a prolonged spell of heat.
Think there may be rain in that! - Club Marine Series
Arriving on the track just before the 1400hrs start, it was the warmest part of the day (at a paltry 23 degrees) and there was only a mere 5 knots wandering through from roughly Sou’west, but you did not have to look too far to see what was next on Hughie’s agenda. It slid seven degrees in the space of an hour or so and must have put 5mm in the rain gauge in the same time, provided it was angled horizontally to meet the incoming hydro bullets!
Divisions Two and Three were setting up just off Point Ormond that divides St Kilda and Elwood, quite a way further North than Zero and One, who were off Green Point. The former were only 15 minutes late getting going, but as with both courses, quite a few crews had left their vessels in the pen and not even decided to take on Hughie’s latest challenge. Some very skilled sailors and highly placed crews were amongst these like Nouannie. Whilst they did appear on course, they did not begin the day’s race.
Bang! We’re off. Division Two preparatory signals. - Club Marine Series
In an open vessel, part of the media team chose to exit stage left as Divisions Two and Three went in to a start sequence and hide in St Kilda Maria under the Coast Guard’s awning for about half an hour, so as to avoid the penetrating precipitation. During that time, the wind had peaked at just over 30 knots and settled back into the mid-20’s. There had been an incident on the start line, with White Noise peeling off on Port tack at the boat end when several vessels rounded up under her. Whilst coming back around to have another go, they were in a collision with Wild Side and the resultant hole finished their day, right then.
After the first work to the top mark and during the run back down, the retirements from racing also became a noticeable feature of the landscape. Another was the vast majority of crews who had elected to fly spinnakers in the fresh to frightening breeze that was also allowing a 2m seaway to get up from nowhere. The heads would come off the waves later when the breeze moderated at about 1600hrs for 45 minutes. However, in true fashion for the area, they remained short and quite nasty, especially when the atypical rogues ran through, predominantly in a set of three.
At the bottom gate, a course change to 200 degrees from slightly more West was signalled to all the remaining competitors, which was 14 in Division Three and 11 in Division Two. Principal Race Officer for the Club Marine Series, David LeRoy, was running Course 2/3 and he commented, 'Bit wild and woolly, especially for the crews and my wonderful team who stood outside, often at length, especially when we were notifying the crews. Well done to all of them. Great effort.'
'I did get a smile out of it when one crew radioed in to indicate that I should leave the AP until after the wind had come through, which I did let them know that I had done this once or twice before and would look after their interests. It did seem that there were some who may not have paid as much attention when the wind came. Under Capricorn were a metre or so over the line, but did return in what was otherwise a pretty clean start. There was a little more on for the Div3 boats, who started five minutes after the others and the Diamond, Mystery, was certainly a standout there and showed that whilst tough, it was certainly a sailing type day.'
'The breeze dropped back to the low 20s and then kicked in again for the very end as the last couple finished, marching on to 35 knots plus after they had crossed the finish line, so we slotted in to the most sailable breeze that was on offer for the day. We saw a peak of 28 and an average 24 where we were, however it seemed like a lot because there had been no wind prior. The series results were borne out by the results of the day and it shows that it was a fair sort of a race', LeRoy finished with.
Wavelength had a wonderful day. - Club Marine Series
The day belonged to Wavelength for their wins in both IRC and AMS (Australian measurement System) with Footloose, Outlaw and Skipjack deserving mentions for their efforts out there. The Diamond, Mystery, who won on PHS (Performance Handicap System) get the honourable mention for winning and staying out there in what would have been challenging conditions in this classic class of vessel.
May have been hard work, but the Diamond, Mystery, plugged away. - Club Marine Series
For the overall result in IRC, you have Intrusion comfortably from Skipjack with Watermark II able to still collect third. Wavelength nearly got there, but finished two points off the podium. They would stand atop the AMS table, with the little engine that could, Footloose, coming in for second and Watermark II having done enough earlier on in the series, grabbing third place. A resounding win to Y Knot from Wavelength and then Duckmobile is the final PHS mark.
In Division Two, reigning Audi IRC Australian Champion in Class C, Executive Decision have had a lot said about them and they deserve it. They also deserve mentioning again for the very unique mainsail they appeared on course with and used for the race. Those Doyle logos in an array of colours stood out in magnificent contrast to the grey skies.
Executive Decision with that colourful mainsail. - Club Marine Series
Top Gun and Wind Speed took the minor places on the day in both IRC and AMS, with Primo collecting third in PHS to also get a mention. Overall, it would be Executive Decision to take the series win in IRC and AMS, with Penfold Audi Sport holding out for second over Top Gun, despite not racing on the day. In AMS, Wind Speed missed out on crashing that party by just the two points after the nine race 2012/13 Club Marine Series has been completed. No doubt this will serve as added motivation for them in the next season.
Wind Speed would finish in second for PHS, on the same points as Top Gun, six and a half behind winner, Matrix. Longshot was 27 points astern, so quite literally there not in the money.
Further South at the Division Zero and One course, the highlight early may well have been the appearance of the beautiful and ultra-quick, Shogun V. In a heavy breeze, she can literally take off downwind, so there was some expectation of witnessing a great sight. They had to repair the leech line of their mainsail, which occurred once they had dropped it, but alas most of the division had self-aborted and so in to port they came, too. Rush was the only one to get underway, albeit they were way late.
Clockwork heading to the top mark and taking some water and air in the process. - Club Marine Series 2012-2013
They had been expecting to start at 1445hrs from under AP, but this happened at 1505hrs, in the end. The most notable item here was the white out that never really cleared, only went from sort of visible to barely 200m. To highlight the weird and wonderful nature of the day, at one point there was no wind at Geelong (approx. 35nm away), which had earlier experienced a solid 35+knots.
So with the venom taken out of the day, to about the same degree as the temperature had now dropped, nine vessels of Division One went racing. The Race Officer was Greg Sinclair who said, 'Wet, but still a reasonable race. We saw low 30’s and finished in 11knots, however. I got them started in 25, with it having been 3 and 5knots before all the drama hit. We set an axis of 210 degrees out over 2.2nm with two laps and a finish at the bottom the requirement.'
Close competition in the Sydney 38s with 38South to windward of Clockwork. - Club Marine Series 2012-2013
'The Sydney 38’s went well again, which is great to see. We did a course change from 205 to 190 degrees for the second work back to the top mark. I have had a great time, well done to the competitors who competed with real gusto. Well done to them, but also many thanks to the team who make racing possible. They have done better than well and deserve everyone’s praise. What a marvellous season and thrilled to be a part of it. Hope Club Marine is, too', said Sinclair.
On the day, Audi IRC Australian Champion in Class B, Ikon collected the IRC win from Clockwork and Wicked, which would be the exact order for the series result, as well. Addiction pushed Ikon in to second place in AMS and Swordfish Trombone held on for third place. It was Addiction, then Ikon and Clockwork in PHS. Ikon had a clear series win in AMS from Clockwork and Swordfish Trombone, with Clockwork turning the tables on Ikon in PHS and Wicked holding on for third place.
Ikon making a big splash, as usual. - Club Marine Series 2012-2013
The 2012/13 Division Zero Club Marine Series is all about Calm 2. A fast boat and sailed well, she has not only won the IRC measurement division, but cleaned up in PHS, which proves that the handicapper has not been able to remove them from the tables and is a mark of her crew work. The older vessel, Calm, takes second place in IRC, with Rush moving in to third place. Calm 2 would win PHS by 12 points over XLR8, who were just two ahead of Calm, in the end.
Of their emphatic season, Jason Van Der Slot said, 'We were certainly cautious about damaging the boat toady. It has been a good year with the new boat and we have really enjoyed it. We’ve sharpened our skills and recently made some crew changes too, so we are certainly looking forward to the next round of the TP52 Southern Cross Cup.'
Wicked during one the of the ‘high visibility’ points of the day. - Club Marine Series 2012-2013
In conclusion, many thanks to both Hobsons Bay Yacht Club and Yachting Victoria for providing the media vessels of the day. This ensured that a thorough set of images was taken across both courses. If you're based in Melbourne and enjoyed following the 2012/13 series, then maybe you should come to the Club Marine Presentations, which are on April 5, 2013 at the Royal Brighton Yacht Club.
The Club Marine Series is proudly sponsored by Australia’s largest marine insurer - details and full information about the series can be found at clubmarineseries.com.au