Before we leave the dock a quick chat with our Race Director David Leroy on our plan for the day’s race. Once onboard Cerberus I do my usual run through of the vessels log sheet checklist and Sailing Instructions, to ensure all is correct and the required race gear is onboard and ready. I realise we will need more fuel, so I will come back to the club after the start when the pier is vacant.
While we follow Thorsen out we do our radio check. James Davison is my crew for the first task of the day which is to lay the southern line 400 metres parallel to the south off David’s northern start line. Our job is then to watch the southern line pin end, for any early (OCS) starters and pull the marks after the start time has expired. The weather is very light, so we have to wait a while for all the yachts to clear both lines. James and I pull up our designated marks and deflate them in order to have a clear deck space. We return to the club to fuel up both Cerberus and Royals 4. James will take Royals 4 down to Geelong as it is to be our pin end boat for Bravo course. I will follow along behind. As the fleet is sailing slowly because of the light conditions we don’t have a lot of catching up to do. James can get Royals 4 there much faster, so he disappears quickly over the horizon in the calm seas. I approach the fleet of eight or so tail-enders off Point Cook and throttle back to report to Dave who is following along about mid fleet on the Thorsen.
As I have my camera aboard, I take the opportunity to get some snaps of the RYCV yachts as they head toward Corio Bay working through the fleet as I go. The leaders are doing it slowly up at the Point Wilson laid mark as the wind has dropped away off Portarlington. The new breeze finally comes from the south east and the lead yachts are back making good time again. Ichi Ban has cleared away completely. I grab my camera to catch Team Hollywood and Primitive Cool as they head reach down to the Point Henry laid mark, moving along in just nine knots of true wind speed. I clock Team Hollywood doing 8.1 knots through the water. This new yacht seems to relish this steady breeze. I run along with these two yachts and on approaching the Hopetoun10 turn mark I lay my anchor and get ready for the fleet of yachts to pass. I keep a listening watch and inform Thorsen of the wind strength from time to time. My camera tries to catch the RYCV yachts as they pass, but things do get crowded, so I miss a few. I wait until the majority of the fleet and Thorsen have passed until I motor in to find my berth at RGYC. Safely alongside at the inner basin I tidy up and run the bouys we brought with us to the bouy shed for reinflation and will reload them in the morning. We have been assigned course Bravo again this year with the Super 10-11, Sports boats and S80 fleets for the Geelong end of our duties. After signing off and getting the team shirt I say my farewells and walk to the railway station for the trip back to Melbourne.
The day starts early with Denis Spinley kindly chauffeuring James and I, who also went home via train to Melbourne the previous night, down the freeway to Geelong. We arrive at the volunteer room and sign in, collect our lunch bags and I meet my crew Michael Jennings who will assist me for the next two days. The forecast is hot so I shout both Thorsen and Cerberus some bags of ice for our coolers. We have a quick run through with David Leroy who is the Bravo course RO. As we leave the marina we radio in and I give Michael a run through of safety gear, radios and the chart-plotter. I find out Mike has many years experience running the Geelong Sailing School and other adventures as we talk, so I’m grateful for his help. We head to the Bravo starting area to find Thorsen and continue further up the course to give Dave an indication of the breeze pattern so he can set a course length and firm up the course direction. The breeze is doing it’s normal “Geelong thing” and we settle on a mean direction that sees some good tactical racing over the day. With two races in the bag, the S80’s go in, and we run a third race for the Super 11-10 Plus Sports Boats. The breeze goes further right (south), so we have to lay a second windward mark during the last race. We then gather up our marks returning to the RGYC marina, sign off and enjoy an air conditioned car ride back home with Denis.
Sunday has us repeating our routine but with a slight change in course area to bring us closer to the RGYC marina. The breeze has wild swings either side of the mark before it tries to settle. I like to call it doing a “Crazy Ivan”. It keeps us on our toes. On the last run of the S80 race our top mark decides after all this bobbing around that it wants to go west as they say. Our anchor tackle has unclipped itself by tangling with the shot weight line and drifted away. We up anchor and speed to the moving mark raising Code flag M so the last few of the S80 have a rounding point. In the meantime the Super 11-10 and Sports Boat fleet have started, so we refit our spare tackle onto the mark and reset it in a new position. The wind has kicked in and Dave wants a slightly longer leg length for them. All this happens in a matter of just a few short minutes and I’m glad for Michael’s help. The day’s racing over, and with the series in the bag, we return to the RGYC after we have a few tries at dragging for our lost tackle but with no luck. I drop my large RGYC bouys off and refuel for the trip back to Melbourne. I sign off, grab a roll and drink from the volunteer’s canteen, shake my new friend Michael’s hand and with full tanks from Murray, motor out of Geelong’s Corio Bay bound for the RYCV marina. With the “big Cat” of Cerberus purring and a favourable sea, I make good time and pass some of the returning yachts as I go. Just over three hours after leaving I come alongside at Williamstown. I clean up and fill in the log sheet and I’m greeted with a blast of hot Melbourne wind as I lower the burgee. Another Geelong weekend, done and dusted.
By David Wallace