Jervis Bay Cruising Yacht Club’s Callala First National Summer Series kicked off on Sunday, December 2. With a westerly wind strengthening, only a small fleet of six yachts braved the challenging conditions.
The race was the first in the Tahmoor Rural Round the Bay Series, with three larger yachts starting in Division 1 and three smaller yachts in Division 2.
The fleet raced clockwise around Jervis Bay with the larger Division 1 yachts competing over a 15 nautical mile course and the smaller Division 2 yachts tackling a slightly shorter 13 nautical mile circuit.
Just before the start the NE winds eased with a strong and gusty westerly wind kicking in, blowing a shroud of dust across the bay. With winds between 20 to 25 knots, a couple of yachts elected not to start, with some others frantically reefing their sails and preparing for some difficult conditions.
The catamaran Tranquillity, skippered by Alan Leach, beat the other Division 1 yachts to the first mark and held its lead for the rest of the race. Out of The Blue skippered by Paul Gooey, in second place, led Invincible with Trevor Kanaar at the helm as they raced south down the bay.
Invincible passed Out of the Blue near Honeymoon Bay; and as they turned crossing the bay into the strong westerly winds Out of the Blue found that they could not reef in their jib. They were left carrying too much sail making the yacht difficult to control in the strong winds.
In Division 2 Sirocco, skippered by Pat Grogan in its first race with the club, got the best start and headed the other yachts to the first mark. As the smaller yachts raced south, the winds strengthened, with gusts reported well over 25 knots. Relentless, skippered by Trevor Smith, was the first yacht to retire with gear failure. Sirocco pulled out soon after, as the conditions became more difficult, leaving only Elements as the last competitor in Division 2.
The trip west across the bay was a challenge, even for the larger yachts. With confused seas throwing large waves at them from different directions and bullets of very strong wind gusts from the west, the crews and yachts were tested. Eventually as the fleet ran up the western end of the bay a SW wind kicked in. The SW wind was still strong, but more consistent and the remaining yachts in the fleet were able to run with it back to Callala Bay.
The catamaran Tranquillity was the first yacht across the line in 2 hours 14 minutes, 30 minutes ahead of Invincible, the first of the mono hull yachts to finish. Once handicaps were applied Alan Leach, Tranquillity, maintained its lead finishing 1st with Trevor Kanar, Invincible, 2nd and Paul Gooey, Out of the Blue 3rd.
In Division 2 Rod Chittendon, Elements, crossed the line in 2 hours 47 minutes, 1st and was the only finisher.
Following the race, the competitors retired to the club house for a BBQ and the winners were presented with their prizes of Crooked River Wines; who have recently come on board as the sponsors of the annual Club Championship.
The club’s next race is Saturday, December 15. It’s the club’s Christmas race meeting and a festive event. There will be a Ladies’ Race and a Forward Hands’ Race as well as an award for the best decorated yacht. The club welcomes existing crews and new members; if you are interested in getting involved in some fun competitive yacht racing see the website jbcyc.com.au for more details.