The Newcastle weather was excellent despite the lack of breeze and made for a great weekend of sailing. It was always going to be a hard task for RW in this offshore regatta without a regular crew and against very fast and fully crewed fleet of IRC rated yachts.
IRC was split into two divisions due to the spread between the ratings......a Volvo 70 (1.591) to a Sigma 36 (0.931)......yep that's what I call a big delta in ratings! Div 2 comprised a Beneteau First 40.7 and First 36.7, Archambault A40, a Sydney 36 and my Sigma 36.
RW once again laid claim to being the oldest yacht in the regatta and the slowest over all courses. My crew on Saturday was my regular crew Ruth, and three standby crew whom had not sailed on RW previously. So it was a big ask of Andrew, Neil and Ross who had a crash course in spinnaker handling! Thanks crew for sharing the workload and doing a fantastic job.
Sundays crew was down to only three of us and to compound the problem, both Col and David were new to the boat.
Whilst there were five yachts in IRC Div 2, RW also raced with PHS Div 2 with nine yachts competing. Courses were laid Windward/Leeward and run extremely well by the CEO and his band of volunteers - thanks guys n girls from NCYC.
So how did we go? Well check the results out here NCYC Inner Spring Regatta Results. Below is a summary of the IRC races.
Race 1 (3rd) we had a cracker start and had a little breeze up to 12 knots and the old Rogue pulled out an astonishing IRC 3rd place and PHS 4th. I asked Richard the CEO if there had been a typo as we pipped the A40 and First 36.7 and the Sydney 36 only beat us by a mere 2 secs to claim 2nd place!
Race 2 (5th) was a failure for us when the breeze dropped and our race was over before we eve left the start line.
Race 3 (5th) another cracker of a start and increasing breeze made for better racing that required the fleet to relocate south of the exclusion zone required for such a busy commercial coal port. We held steady in performance to be about 3 mins off podium pace.
Race 4 (DNF) on Sunday was sailed in a light shifting breeze. We set up for a mid line start only to be slam dunked by the Volvo 70 to windward that stopped us dead in our tracks. By the time we had any speed the fleet had bolted. After rounding the windward mark and in a show of good sportsmanship we elected to radio in a DNF and motor back to the start so the 18 Mile passage race could start on time.
Race 5 (5th) course shifted significantly with the breeze slowly building to about 10-14 knots during the race and backing to S/SE. We had a floating start in clear air (what there was of it!) and actually rounded the mark before a Cookson 12.......okay, they were tangled in the pin end buoy and the foredecky went overboard to untangle the keel. It was a great sail and on a positive note, we actually beat the Volvo 70 on IRC handicap!
There was also a little drama on the water with a port/starboard protest, a collision, pin buoy tango and port/starboard rounding dyslexia! All good fun to watch and listen and learn.
So did we meet our objective not to finish last.....not quite on a series basis, but the highlights for me were a 3rd on IRC and beating a Volvo 70 on Handicap all with a crew new to the boat and that had not sailed together.
Overall a great regatta that offers 10 days free berthing, free Sat evening meal and snacks on Sun at the presentation all for a massive $60 per boat...unheard of value! the sail back to the bay was slow until halfway up Stockton Beach when a nice 12 knot ENE kicked in and I turned off the engine and sailed all the way to my mooring with beer in hand.
Thanks to my crew over the weekend and the NCYC for their generous hospitality and first class regatta - the old Rogues will return.