by Di Pearson
Macquarie Access World Championships penultimate day, at Middle Harbour Yacht Club, got underway in 10-12 knot south-westerlies.
Julie Pearson on the race course - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012
If anyone has been in a position to reap the benefits of the heavy winds experienced on Sydney Harbour, it has been the Tasmanian team.
The Tasmanian team of three Access 303 sailors and two Access 2.3 competitors are certainly no strangers to the big winds and gusts of Tuesday and Wednesday, which many others found trying.
Rod Viney, an able-bodied sailor, demonstrated this with his second place in Race three and a win in Race four in the Access 303 class on Tuesday, when 26 knot winds and big gusts hit the race area at Middle Harbour, near the entrance to Sydney Heads.
Viney, who was in third place going into racing today, and only four points off the lead, was disappointed by the improving weather, calling today’s 10-12 knot south-westerly 'too quiet.'
Those competing in the 2.3’s however, found the winds a bit harder to handle due to their body weight being lighter. Julie Pearson said she had found herself in similar circumstances in Hobart.
Pearson, who is eighth overall going into today’s two races, described herself as 'getting stuck in irons' (head-to-wind and going nowhere). When faced with Tuesday’s big winds at the Macquarie Access Worlds, she said, 'I was left with the choice to limp back to shore or to continue on.' She chose the latter.
Now that the Tasmanian knows she is capable of getting free she feels she’ll be much more confident in the future.
The Tasmanians, though, have struggled with the big swells experienced at Middle Harbour, which is just inside Sydney Heads. Often, their small craft filled with water and they were forced bail, along with the rest of the 115 competitors.
Craig Escott - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012
At one point, Pearson found her 2.3 completely full after a deeper than expected nose-dive. 'So I was sitting with my legs floating off in opposite directions while I was trying to bail out the boat. A big gust then tipped me to the side,' she said, laughing.
The Tassies found the traffic experienced on the Harbour during Easter, 'a bit of a hindrance at times,' when there was an increase in 'idiots' on power boats carving their way through the course, their wakes causing disturbance to the sailing boats.
Well-known Hobart offshore yachtsman, Craig ‘Esky’ Escott, who is sailing in the Access 2.3 single person event in his first major competition, said: 'In Tassie everyone knows each other, so they don’t try and run you over - if they do - they’re dead when they get to shore,' he laughed.
Currently in ninth place overall, Escott still remembers being hit by a car at Airlie Beach years ago. It resulted in many injuries, including some to his head, which has robbed him of his short term memory, but not his competitive spirit, or his sailing skills.
Macquarie Access World Championships website