The Big River Sailing Club Single Handed Regatta was again held on the last weekend of October, this year 27-28th. Once again they extended a warm invitation and the promise of fun sailing, easy camping and great hospitality. The six mid-New South Welshmen and their families that made the trek north were rewarded with an abundance of all.
I arrived around 3:00pm after an easy drive to find Eddie and Nat making camp. After two previous years we think we’ve now found the best spot and quickly established the OK Corral – next year we may make a perfect wagon-circle. Tim and Tanya, plus girls, then Mark and Leslie arrived in quick succession and soon we were settled and ready for our first refreshments. We later found Bill and Jan at one of the several pubs in Maclean for dinner and on return found Bob Kemp being ably assisted by some Brisbane Sabre sailors to setup his new tent in the dark.
Saturday greeted us with colder southerlies and grey skies and as we waited for the day-sailors to arrive watched the wind rise to a blustery 20 knots. After the briefing and the usually confusion as to which way we zigzag across the river course we hit the water – Bill in his old boat Aquarius (kindly loaned by local – Colin Hinwood) and Bob in his recently acquired boat – AUS 667.
The southerly, having fetched across a variety of terrain before reaching us on the river, proved gusty and swinging wildly. At some marks we found near calm and others 25 knot gusts. This, combined with the usual 2-4kn run-out tide, made planning your course critical. One lull or knock was sufficient to lose the whole fleet.
We started with the Sabres and in these conditions soon left them behind. Racing was very close and exciting between Eddie, Mark, Peter and Tim and all four boats went around most marks bow-on-stern. Tim managed the best of the first two races with two wins, Mark two seconds, Peter two thirds and Eddie two fourths – seems a pecking order had been established. Bill and Bob finished both races to take the final two places. No capsizes for any OKs despite the challenging conditions.
Big River again excelled with their evening BBQ and we finished the evening with a few more beers back at Bob’s tent. One of the great features of this regatta is just how easy it is – onsite camping, good facilities and some of the friendliest locals on the Northern Rivers.
We started earlier at 10:00 on Sunday in exactly the same weather as the previous day. In the first race before lunch Mark managed to break away for his first win, Tim 2, Peter 3, Eddie 4 and Bill 5. During lunch the sun came out and then two more races after lunch. Eddie set the cat amongst the pigeons in the second race of the day with a convincing win followed by Tim, Mark, Peter and Bill.
Going into race five, with one drop, Tim lead Mark by one point, and Eddie and Peter too were only one point apart – the final race would decide the regatta! And everyone knew it with places changing at every mark and close, tactical racing in continuing, blustery conditions. Mark prevailed to win the race and tie the points. Peter managed to best Eddie only at the second-to-last mark and hold on for third. Count back gave the series to Mark, Tim second, Peter third, Eddie fourth, Bill fifth and Bob sixth.
The prizes followed tradition and were soon enjoyed from the perpetual Rum Bucket trophy. Also traditional was the excellent fish & chip meal from Maclean as were the (reportedly mild) hangovers the following day.
Once again those that made the trip had a wonderful time and vowed to return again next year. For those that didn’t make it this year and certainly for those that haven’t experienced a “Big River” yet, we’d heartily recommend this as one of the best events on the calendar and not to be missed. My two children have already started asking, “when are we going camping, Dad?”
Thanks again to all the people at Big River Sailing Club and once again especially to Hariet, Mark and Jan and of course to Colin who stepped aside for Bill to sail and then ran the start boat for the regatta.
1 AUS 736 Agent Provokateur Mark Skelton
2 AUS 739 Don't Poke the Bear Tim Davies
3 AUS 750 Broken Arrow Peter Robinson
4 AUS 734 Cracked Pecker Eddie O'Donnell
5 AUS 648 Aquarius Bill Tyler
6 AUS 667 Ripsnorter Bob Kemp
Last Modified on 30/10/2012 21:02