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One with the lot at the Club Marine Series.

'Star had the keel up and mast down. Not the way to go quickly. - 2013/14 Club Marine Series'    Teri Dodds ©

There was a time when burgers came from small shops at your local shopping strip, and one with the lot really was a hefty piece of work. There was a kind of classic Melbourne day to be had by those partaking in Round Six of the annual Club Marine Series on Port Phillip. It had everything from beaming and strong sunshine, gusty Northerly winds, to far too ominous clouds running across the Bay like giant packs of gazelles and spits of rain, as well. About the only thing that was not on offer was thunder, but that all changed as day went to evening and dinner was consumed.

Now like a good shopping channel spruiking away, advising you that there is more to come, but yet with a far more charitable heart than that, all race entry fees from the day go to cancer charities as part of the day known as Keeping Cancer at Bay. For many a year now this has been a regular feature of the calendar and is usually followed by sausages and drinks on the deck at host club, Sandringham YC. This year that has been combined with the presentations, which for the first time are to take part immediately after racing at the end of the next and final round, which is on March 29, 2014. The Royal Brighton Yacht Club will be the host for that.

Commenting on the humanitarian and charitable nature of the day, Simon McLean, the CEO of the naming rights sponsor, Club Marine, said, 'How terrific that Round Six of the Club Marine Series can be set aside to support such a worthy cause. Club Marine is proud to be associated with this day and we congratulate the competitors and organisers for creating such a great event. Well done to all involved.'

Primitive Cool work off to the hitch mark in the lead. - 2013/14 Club Marine Series -  Alex McKinnon ©  

Given that it was a Northerly blowing, the worst the seaway could ever proffer was just over half a metre. It was pesky enough in a small craft and certainly early on it was more protected in along the shoreline of Melbourne’s beachside suburbs. Mercifully it was warm and one’s gear was on and off almost as frequently as a faulty light, as you adjusted to the ever-changing conditions. It was 18-22 knots at 1300hrs when the boats were appearing on course for pre-race practice. Perhaps everyone was evaluating these conditions too closely, for come start time, barely three boats were approaching the line and even they would be 20 seconds late. Others would be much worse than that, which meant they had to claw their way back into the race, much like the backmarker at the Stawell Gift.

Soon the average would still be low to mid 20’s, but the gusts would appear at over thirty and a couple of hours into it, those gusts would make 40 knots. Classically, by nightfall there would be just the four knots from the West on offer. However, as the night-time movie got underway, it was back to 30knots and from the Sou’west. The Optimist Victorian State Championship being conducted off Brighton got just the one race completed before being blown straight back into the clubhouse. Now these big bullets certainly had pressure change, but they also flicked around a little. Overall, the trend was for the breeze to go left, or West of North. Granted this is fairly typical of this kind of day on Port Phillip, but huge pressure arriving and from 20 to 30 degrees away from where you’re currently heading is a challenge for even a slick crew. Feathering and protecting the sails is paramount, at the same time as ensuring the helmer can take the craft where they want to.

XLR8, Addiction and Ikon with a windsurfer as well. - 2013/14 Club Marine Series -  Alex McKinnon ©  

Downhill it can be a lot of fun, especially on a vessel that loves to plane. However, those gusts and direction changes can cause complete havoc, especially if you are mid-gybe at the time. As a result, there were just so many craft that rounded up, lay down or in one case, turned completely turtle. The latter was the sports boat, Star, owned by Chris Bland. In a truly great case of seamanship, they not only righted her, they also went on to complete the race, which is pretty much what you would expect from Chris and his crew.

Elsewhere, the crew of Hartbreaker (the RP46 that was formerly Shamrock/SMB2) were continuing to learn how to sail her in her groove, which is about as narrow as her very identifiable Reichel/Pugh beam. Her new name pays homage to her builder, Hart Marine, as well as the medicos who own her. Another to come to grief was Wild Child. Possibly during a Chinese gybe, Marnie Irving came off the weather rail and landed on the tiller. She was met at the dock by ambulance at 1540hrs and then transported to Cabrini Hospital with a suspected dislocated shoulder and concussion. We wish her all the very best and to the crew as well, for that is a very shaking kind of event.

Wicked and Primitive Cool were the first and subsequently the best to get away, even though they were 20 seconds late to the line. This is because they had such clear water behind them, with the others having major Committee Boat envy and all keen to snuggle up as if it was a Winter’s night. The breeze was just fresh at this time. The majority went left except for three craft, which were led by Kookaburra. One of the others over on the right was XLR8 who did very well in the smoother water on offer there. Primitive Cool was slow through her tack in the centre of the course, but got away from there to show her transom to all.

Simply Fun get set to launch their spinnaker. - 2013/14 Club Marine Series -  Alex McKinnon ©  

It all evened out a bit on that first work, with Simply Fun, Kookaburra, Ikon and Schüss joining Primitive Cool and Terra Firma in the group assaulting the top mark. Primitive Cool would have a four boat-length lead over Terra Firma. The hitch or clearance mark was higher than the top mark, which made them work for it all a bit more and caused issues with the gusts, loaded sails and kites at the end of prodders. The separation of the fleet started form there and the gaps just got bigger as the race wore on.

At this stage it was amazing to see sun all over the Division Two and Three course to the North and then dark, brooding and somewhat ominous clouds atop the Div0/1 course. What a difference a couple of nautical miles makes, or so it would seem. It was on the first run that 38 South had a big wipe out with their spinnaker aloft. As commented earlier, it was a contagion that many would receive.

Glenn Taylor, a member of SYC, was the Race Officer for the Division Zero and One course today. 'We set a 2.2nm range to bearing 355?, with three laps for everyone. This was moved to 330? for the second work and then it went back right for the last run to home, so we set that to 350? (reciprocal of which is 170?). May thanks to the race management team for all their efforts', said Taylor.

25 tonne of Kookaburra smashes her away around the hitch mark behind Ikon. - 2013/14 Club Marine Series -  Alex McKinnon ©  

'It was gusty and tending left, left, left, only to go hard right at the very end. Sure was tricky, which is why there was lots of interesting spinnaker work. Plenty of damage ensued, not only to those kites, but also mainsails and one snapped boom. Well done to them for their jury rig, which allowed them to finish and get a result.

So despite a late start and a big round up at the start of the final run, Terra Firma collected the Division Zero IRC prize on the day. Simply Fun and Primitive Cool would get the minor placings and the same score line would apply to the Performance Handicap System (PHS), as well. Overall in IRC, Rush and XLR8 have 23 points, with Terra Firma on 24 and Simply Fun on 26. As Rush has not been racing, you could bet Nick Bartels and the crew of Terra Firma would be eying off some of the silverware that will be awarded straight after the next round. XLR8 will collect the PHS prize, with Terra Firma and Simply Fun to leapfrog over Rush to be part of that final tally.

Not going well for Dark Energy. - 2013/14 Club Marine Series -  Teri Dodds ©  

In Division One it was a Beneteau kind of day. The super-slick Ikon would take both IRC and AMS, allowing Wicked and Reverie to occupy second and third for both IRC and the Australian Measurement System, respectively. The 12m test bed from Fremantle, Kookaburra, would get a second in PHS for the day and didn’t she look great out there. Nothing goes to windward quite like a twelve. Dry White got the win and Wicked claimed a third, which is a good effort after some significant spinnaker issues on the second run.

Ikon dominates the IRC and AMS scoreboards with no less than seven bullets from seven guns. Cool! Guess they are making a statement for the impending Audi IRC Australian Championships. Reverie and Wicked will be fighting it out to see who will be second and who will have to take third. Ikon is not done with that either, for they can still do some damage to the PHS list, as too can Wicked by the way. Currently PHS is headed by Mille Sabords.

Tigris took time out to go krill fishing. - 2013/14 Club Marine Series -  Teri Dodds ©  

David LeRoy, the PRO for the Club Marine Series said, 'Wasn’t so busy for me on the Division Two/Three course, but plenty of others had a lot on, that’s for sure! We set 355? for 1.7nm, but shifted that to 340? for the second leg. It went back to 350? for the last effort to windward. There were three laps to complete for Division Two and two laps for Division Three. It is great to see people going for it in testing conditions. Some went quickly and some fell over during the Division Two final run to home.'

The Committee Boat end was favoured for start, but Wild Child and Executive Decision went to the pin end and it paid off. So much so that Wild Child would be first around with Executive Decision in fourth. For the Div3 start, Watermark II was over, but recovered to be fifth on the first run. As mentioned, the day did serve up lots of spinnaker problems and this Northern, Div2/3 course was no different to its Southern cousin. It was the second run when Star turtled, but as we saw earlier, they still went on to get a finish. Speaking of finishes, Take Five and Wavelength were locked in a tight battle in Div3, with Take Five getting bragging rights, but no joy on the all important scoreboard.

Zutem attempting to go kite surfing with a yacht. Might not work out too well…. - 2013/14 Club Marine Series -  Teri Dodds ©  

During the final run to home for Div2, Zutem was having a ‘lay down’ for some time and may have cut their spinnaker in order to affect a recovery kite to recover. They were not the only craft to have a little time on their side, either, only this version is rather more frantic and way less relaxing than being ahead of schedule. Quite a few other Div2 craft actually chose not to fly spinnakers for this last run of the day to leeward.

Max Peters’ Adams 10, Top Gun, held of the new Australian Adams 10 champions, Executive Decision for the IRC win in Div2. Wild Side would get third. Any scoreboard for craft of this size that does not have Toecutter on it means they did not race. They did today and took AMS from Wild Side and then Absolut. PHS would go to Maximumm from Absolut and then Wild Side, so bet they’ll love all those mentions. Let’s say it one more time, Wild Side were on every scoreboard on the day!

Overall, Div2 IRC belongs to Executive Decision (as long as they finish the next one in their usual fashion), with Top Gun and then Jason Close’s, White Noise. AMS sees Toecutter as another craft with seven wins from seven starts. Wild Side, Executive Decision and White Noise will work out who gets second and third in a fortnight’s time. Wild Side will get the PHS guernsey for the season, White Noise second and then Dark Energy and Under Capricorn will work out the rest. That is provided they all race, of course.

Even when you’re good it can still be ugly. - 2013/14 Club Marine Series -  Teri Dodds ©  

In terms of Division Three on the day, Skipjack to IRC honours on the day from Wavelength and Watermark II. Wavelength took out AMS from Watermark II, with Johnny Be Goode going in to third. Rough Cut took out PHS from Take Five and Skipjack.

Overall, Intrusion command IRC, so Watermark II, Wavelength and Skipjack will just have to sort out who doesn’t get a chair when the music stops in two weeks time. Watermark II should take AMS, with Wavelength currently ahead of Rhiannon, but Intrusion can, and would no doubt like to, change all that. The PHS result is similar, in that Watermark II should get it, but then Rhiannon, Skipjack, Intrusion and Take Five can all do something to get a place from here.

Division Blue results on the day saw Next Moment from the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria get the win, with Andalucia next and then Redline. Redline are the perpetually chuffed crew who will be stoked to get a podium finish. There were a lot of retirements, with Zardos, K2, Cartouche, Hot Shot, Lena, Pizzazz, Clipper III, Wild Child as mentioned and Twitch. The latter was a very late starter, so could be thinking it was all too much. Wonderfully, Children of Phoenix are still leading overall. Great to see a crew that is in a building phase getting some extra encouragement.

Twitch was one of the craft to retire from Division Blue today. - 2013/14 Club Marine Series -  Alex McKinnon ©  

Now if you're based in Melbourne or nearby 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 March 29, 2014, and promises to be as entertaining as always.

Blue Division 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. If you’re 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

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. Thank you also to the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria and Yachting 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

by John Curnow


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12:33 PM Sat 15 Mar 2014GMT

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