2014 The Great Bay Race Report
By Tony Eppell
The forecast of 10 knots did not bode well for the start of our longest bay race, the Great Bay Race. However eight doughty starters lined up at the Aquatic Paradise leads at 10 AM on 22nd March 2014. Hasta La Vista - Jim and Lyle's new acquisition - and Spook "blasted" off the line neck and neck to take an early lead. Of course this did not last long with the much faster Boss Racing and Fantasia getting past very quickly as we headed out to Huyber. Hasta La Vista and Spook then locked horns in a duel which lasted all day and most of the night and was not resolved until the final whistle or should we say the final call of "starbr'd".
Everyone cast the bones in an attempt to sort out the best way around Peel Island. Basically it became a question of responding to the puffs and the lulls - more of the latter for the early stages! After about 4 or so hours we had all rounded Peel although reportedly some had to anchor to avoid the clutches of a tide which often exceeded the wind speed. On Spook we rounded South West Rocks in a strong squall which deposited a quantity of water into the boom bag which we discovered to our discomfort late at night while dousing the main!
Spook led the anticlockwise pack around Peel and met the clockwise leader Boss just off the Platypus wreck. Past the Naval Reserve and Chain Banks and Spook led Hasta La Vista and Attitude whilst over to the west we could see the clockwise gamblers going well in a breeze which seemed confined to the shore area.
Just after the Coffee Pots we received a visit from the boys in blue and it looked like we were going to be pulled over for exceeding the speed limit through the shipping channel (new big kite see!) but no, they then spotted that Jim and Lyle had a new boat behind us and immediately rushed off to have a gander!
We then chose to do the eastward triangle of Brisbane Road, Pearl Channel and MB2 in a clockwise direction and were followed in that decision by Hasta La Vista and Renaissance who had started late due to being the starter. We still led our little group at the end of that triangle and the sun had now made its grand exit. We were not that surprised to see Renaissance close after the long westering run even though our new big kite minimised the damage. The second northern triangle saw all three of us choose an anticlockwise route. Both Renaissance and Hasta La Vista got past us and we were suffering somewhat in having instrumentation problems (it's an age thing!) not quite back to the days of cocked hats but close!
North Reef came and went then Otter Rock (that wasn't where my 1860 vintage chart said it should be!). After that it seemed like a simple beat to the finish at Brisbane Road but even though the breeze had hung in a lot longer than expected we were getting 30 degree wind-shifts. First we thought, "famous" then it became "----!" with regularity. At the last tack before the approach to the mark the crew on Hasta La Vista thought they could hear the fat lady singing but no, it was the call of "starbr'd" from Spook! Hasta bore away, Spook tacked and bingo! We didn't hear Boss finish 2 hours ahead but we did hear Fantasia an hour ahead - what a quick boat - looks can be deceiving! The Renaissance, Spook, Hasta La Vista trinity enjoyed close racing all night, Attitude finished some 15 minutes later having chosen a different order while Kestrel and Cats Whiskers will have to tell us their story themselves!
We were very lucky that once the breeze came in it stayed with us and even luckier at this time of year that we had no storms.
Boss was unlucky that the breeze was non existent in the early stages which effectively squashed their chances, the overall light conditions did not favour the Jenkins specials, whereas Spook loves the lighter stuff especially when there are lots of wind-shifts and clearly Fantasia does too.
We'll done Mike for getting the whole show underway, on and off the water and now we can all look forward to next year!