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Adelaide: Racing begins in challenging conditions.

10 December 2010 Wayne Knill

Close starting amongst Adelaide fleet.

"Close starting amongst Adelaide fleet."

Photo by:
Langdon Hamlyn

The 2010/11 racing season is finally underway, with fleet numbers slightly down on last year. Several crews have struggled to hit the water due to travel or work commitments, so unfortunately we've yet to see our entire fleet get together for some friendly competition.

Strong winds of over 25 knots and nasty 2 metre plus swells dominated the first couple of race weekends, leaving us with the choice of racing in the Port River at Outer Harbour, or not racing at all. Obviously we were keen to get any sort of sailing in after the long Winter hibernation, so the river option was taken. This compromise turned out to have some unexpected advantages.

As those who sailed in Adelaide for the '09 Nationals will remember, the shipping channel at Outer uor is about 300 metres wide, is protected from the Gulf of St Vincent by a breakwater in the West that runs in a roughly North-South direction. A couple of the channel markers were used as rounding marks, giving us a course distance of around 1nm.
Regardless of the wind direction in the Gulf, any Southerly breeze tends to funnel down the river, giving a true windward/leeward course. The narrow confines of the river kept all the boats close together and some fantastic, close-quarter racing was then enjoyed by all.

Venture too far outside of the dredged channel, however and you're sure to run aground and stick the keel in the sticky soft mud, as Mike Bradley (Fish Factory AUS951) discovered. Not only did the minute or so delay in extricating the boat off the bottom and back into the deeper water put Mike to the back of the fleet for that race, it meant Mike is now the new custodian of the 'Puddy Cup'. This is a very dubious honour, which will remain his until the next unfortunate recipient steps forward!

The SA State Championships have also commenced, with the completion of Heat #2. Two weeks earlier, the 1st Heat was abandoned due to a now traditional, strong Southerly front preventing any racing, but perfect conditions for the 2nd Heat more than made up for it. Shane Deussen sailing Coronation Rag (AUS936) exploded off the start line and already had a handy lead halfway up the first beat, going on to win by a comfortable margin.

After buying his boat last year, Shane had a slow start last season, as he was tuning up and checking out his new sails, but was unstoppable by the end of the year. It may be early days, but already Shane, who is a former National Champion in the Lightweight Sharpie Class, looks like the man to beat this year. Stay tuned!


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