Gusting winds tested the skills of the sailors when the Lake Keepit Sailing Club raced on Sunday.
After initially looking like another mill-pond-day, the wind pushed in from the west at a gentle 10 kmph so a new race course was hastily arranged for the directional change.
The Vice-Commodore’s Plate was up for grabs in the morning, and the usually fickle wind built surprisingly in strength, gusting to finally 25-30 kmph, which then became the order of the day.
Two catamarans, seven lasers and one trailer-sailer faced the starter.
There were tense moments on many boats as hard gusts of wind tested the skills of the sailors and their crafts.
Through the spray came Doug Whiteman in his large catamaran to win line honours from Dave Alwyn on his Maricat. First laser over the line was Robbie Cull’s, the Lake Keepit sailor navigating the course skillfully and without a dip in the water.
On corrected time Cull was awarded the win from Quirindi’s Keith Garrett.
Gunnedah’s John Sumner was third with Tamworth’s Matt Whiteman fourth.
There were many capsizes and amazing quick recoveries from the laser group as they thrilled the crowd.
Matt Whiteman amazed the onlookers with a 10 second capsize and recovery, while Sumner’s unexpected splash into the lake only metres from the finish line was most untimely.
Tamworth’s Kylie Burton was the only female laser sailor and she bravely battled the testing conditions including several capsizes before deciding to head for the respite of the lake foreshore.
It was a great effort from Burton for her first time racing in such challenging conditions, as it was from Quirindi’s Michael Jachau, who got around the course relatively unscathed.
The afternoon race was a first for the club, and saw the solo sailors put away their laser dinghies for a trailer-sailer derby. The result was an impressive battle between three larger boats, with up to four in their crews, and Doug Whiteman’s catamaran.
With a strong blustery wind, the boats careered around the buoys with much yelling for main sheets to be eased as craft heeled at alarming angles under the force of big gusts.
Garrett’s RL 24 “Dragon-fly”, was the first of the trailer-sailers to finish.
Rodger Ford’s one-off deisigned “M8”, claimed second after a fine battle with Jachau’s RL 24 “Shiloh”.
RESULTS: Vice-Commodore’s Plate (corrected time) – Robert Cull 1, Keith Garrett 2, John Sumner 3. Fastest time – Doug Whiteman; Trailer-sailer derby – Dragon-fly (owner Keith Garrett) 1, M8 (owner Rodger Ford) 2, Shiloh (owner Michael Jachau) 3.