Canberra time

Friday afternoon I headed to Canberra to officiate at the ACT Dinghy Championships held over the weekend. As many would know, the traffic heading out of Sydney on a Friday afternoon is simply the pits for want of a word. I left at 3pm thinking ‘yep should be fine’. Instead I entered the worst traffic snarl ever encountered. The city was experiencing the typical afternoon storm for this time of year, so it was semi expected to be busy – but first gear in the Harbour Tunnel? It’s an 80kph road! The traffic was like this for the next 30kms, taking over double the time getting out of Sydney, so instead of being on the road for 3 1/2hrs it was 6. I’d hate to do this commute daily.

Saturday morning dawned in the nations capital with a little drizzle which thankfully cleared mid morning. More importantly there was wind! Those who have sailed there before will know of the frustrations competing, it’s worse as the Principal Race Officer with two courses and 10 divisions on Lake Burley Griffin. Conditions in Canberra are either blowing or nothing. To have 4-5 knot wind out of the east [well, south east to north east] is fantastic!

Race one got away with 7 divisions on my course, then the wind dropped out for a time. As there was only one common mark with a 50 minute time limit, abandon was the only option and start all over again. We got two races in straight after that and everyone was happy. Well at least those who won the lottery, otherwise known as the shifts.

Sunday morning was the same but a little more wind 5-8 knots in the gusts, same direction but no rain, Hooray. Again we got in two races, however with the time difference between the faster boats and the stragglers, there really wasn’t the time to run another. With a few who had also joined me from Sydney wanting to hit the road home, it was a four race series. As usual, there were plenty who sailed with their head out of the boat and those who didn’t. Canberra is one heck of a fluky place to sail, it certainly benefits those who watch the conditions. It’s not one of those places where you go left or right and one tack on the layline to the top mark.

The NS14 had the largest fleet with many non locals getting some time in on the water where their Championships will be in the coming months. One of the class builders, Mark Thorpe came out on top with two firsts and two seconds. In the last race he was OCS [started early and had to come back]. When I asked him later, he said “he went the opposite way to those on the first leg, might as well do something different”. He won by nearly a leg! Got lucky on that one. Another crew who were recipients of a trophy were DeckHardware ambassadors Michael and Amanda Pfeffer, Good to see them sailing as it’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to watch them. There were others who we saw in the top few the first time around and the second time they were literally out the back door. Just keep sailing, in Canberra you aren’t out of it till you have finished.

The volunteer team down there were just great, helping laying and moving marks as required and they looked after the “out of towner” race officer with smiles and words of thanks. It was another great event with over 80 entrants and hopefully all came away happy with the experience. Okay, I know some didn’t but that’s sailing.

With six weeks or so to Christmas, it’s almost Rolex Sydney Hobart time. Following that it’s the International Cadet Championships. That’ll be into 2016. Where has the year gone?

About Phil Yeomans
Phil grew up sailing on Pittwater (north of Sydney) racing in many classes over the years including Manly Juniors, Lasers, 5.5’s, 505’s, several trailer Yachts, E22’s, 1/2 and 1 Tonners, A10m, Sydney 38’s and more. Phil is well known for his knowledge of boats, having built several classes and has a freaky ability to recognise boats and designs. Phil is a National Race Official and Equipment Auditor (Yachting Australia).

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