Sailing masterclass at Goolwa

Ready to race: Ron Rickards (1964) pensively awaits the start of race two while keeping a close eye on his opponents.

Ready to race: Ron Rickards (1964) pensively awaits the start of race two while keeping a close eye on his opponents.

Forecast light winds and a brief rain shower did not deter another strong fleet from competing in Sunday’s dinghy racing at Goolwa Aquatic Club.

All handled being part of the mixed Sabre and Pacer fleet confidently ... it’s great to see these kids, and parents, making the transition from junior sailing to club racing.

After the previous weekend’s adventurous course through the Coorong Quays marina and around the Hindmarsh Island bridge pylons, the course was returned to a more conventional “two triangle and a sausage” format for the Sabre and Pacer dinghies, with a shorter course for the junior Optimist and Cadet dinghies.

Thanks to the on-shore and on-water volunteers for all their hard work.

Sabre Dinghies

Race one was held in a slightly shifty light breeze of around 10 knots, rewarding those with finesse and a knack for picking the shifts and avoiding the holes.

Sabre sailors Graeme McLeay (“Felix”), Ron Rickards (“Mexican Wave”), Helen Bowlden (“Shiver”) and Peg Offler (“½ Reddy”)  sailed masterfully in the light conditions; less than half a minute separated these four across the finish line after 50 minutes of racing.

In the end it was Ron who crossed the line just five seconds clear of Graeme, closely followed by Helen and Peg, after some excellent close tactical racing.

T2: Graeme McLeay and Helen Bowlden await the start of race two following a masterful display of light air sailing in race one.

T2: Graeme McLeay and Helen Bowlden await the start of race two following a masterful display of light air sailing in race one.

Race two started in a slightly stronger breeze.

Peter deVries (“Blue Shadow”), perhaps spurred on by a second-half-of-the-fleet finish in race one, had a cracker of a start, crossing the line at the favoured end right on the gun, with Dave Steele in “Ratbag Element” right on his tail.

While most of the fleet headed up the left of the course on starboard tack seeking wind in the centre  of the lake, Peter and Dave headed to the right – something of a gamble – but it paid off, with Peter first around the windward mark, Dave still just behind in pursuit.

Dave was soon reeled in and overtaken by the pursuing race one guns Graeme McLeay, Ron Rickards, Peg Offler and Helen Bowlden – but Peter held his lead to the wing mark, only to finally lose it to Graeme.

However, just as the close pack of six Sabres descended on the bottom mark, a sudden wind shift saw Graeme capsize, leaving Peter to successfully round the bottom mark still in first place. This was setting to be one for the ages!

We suspect the story of Peter’s subsequent progression backwards through the fleet to ultimately finish in last place will be retold many times.

Theories abound; some say it was the caffeine wearing off; some say he was simply lost with nobody to follow; some say with a lap completed in the lead, Peter felt he’d nothing left to prove, and elected to go and coach the tail enders.

All that is certain is that by the time the fleet reached the top mark, Peter was no longer in the lead, Graeme had recovered from his capsize and was right back in contention, and as the breeze dropped to less than five knots, we were treated to another great display of competitive light wind sailing from Graeme, Ron, Peg and Helen.

This time, after another great battle, it was Graeme first across the line (a great performance given the capsize), 23 seconds ahead of Helen, with Ron very close behind.

Ron’s first race win and close third in race two was enough to claim a well-deserved first place on handicap, with little separating the top four.

Final Sabre handicap results:

  • 1st – Ron Rickards
  • 2nd – Helen Bowlden
  • 3rd – Peg Offler
  • 4th – Graeme McLeay

Pacers

Three of the club’s Pacers put to the water, as a number of the club’s regular Opti sailors and new sailors or parents elected to team up to do battle in double-handed yachts on the larger course.

Race one  resulted in the pairing of Zoe Robinson and Vivienne Zufferey in “Pacemaker” narrowly beating Jake Steele, Hamish Robinson and Oliver Volk in “The Bird” for the win.

The boys claimed their extra crew weight cost them the crucial seconds, setting the scene for a race two challenge, with father-daughter combination Evelyn and David Wilson in “Wilson Wonder” in third place.

Inrace two, the Wilson team took line honours, with Zoe/Vivienne second and Jake/Oliver in third place.

The day went to Zoe and Vivienne, with Jake and Oliver (and Hamish) second, and Evelyn and David third.

All sailed really well and handled being part of the mixed Sabre and Pacer fleet confidently.

It’s great to see these kids, and parents, making the transition from junior sailing to club racing.   ​

Juniors

On the junior course, in both races one and two, Sam Quilliam in the family Optimist “Spyro” took the win from Mitchell Kelsey and Rose Ward in their Cadet “Duke” ahead of Optimist sailor Sophie Ward in “Amazon”; with handicap results in that order also.

Great sailing from the juniors also in often tricky conditions.

Sailing at Goolwa Aquatic Club offers something for everybody across a range of dinghy classes.

The junior fleet continues to grow, with the Goolwa waters offering the perfect safe environment for kids to develop their skills and confidence.

And for adult sailors, there is no shortage of friendly competition no matter what your standard.

For more information check the GAC Sailing Facebook page.

Next week sees another GAC Sailing Championship round, as we draw closer to the Rat Race hosted by Clayton Bay Boat Club, one of the summer season highlights.