Despite the strong wind warning for Sydney enclosed waters and forecast heavy rain, four boats – Murphy’s Law, Helen Joy, Tranquil and Uncle Norm – started race 15, a handicap. The course was no. 1, Easterly.
Conditions at the start, at 2pm, were wet with the wind ranging between 10 and 15 knots. Murphy’s Law established and held its lead over the first round.
But when the small fleet rounded, or neared buoy 6 at about 3pm, a huge rain and wind squall hit. Murphy’s Law (David Johnston and Ben Speed), which was over on the Hunters Hill shore, saw the weather coming and headed for the club house. Uncle Norm (Eric Partland and Gary Wills) broke some equipment and quickly lowered the mainsail, and were towed in. By that stage the rain was stinging and the water was streaked white.
Helen Joy (Chris Giaquinto and Ross Pollitt) and Tranquil (Neil Johnson and Bret Pollitt) headed for the lee of Cockatoo and Spectacle Islands respectively. After the worst passed, both came into the club house under their jibs, with Tranquil towed the through the moorings. Chris said Ross was keen to continue the race, but Chris felt riding out one strong wind and rain experience was enough.
So no-one finished the race, but neither were there any capsizes or injuries.
The Bureau of Meteorology reported the strongest wind gust on Sydney Harbour was 36 knots ENE at 2.54pm, measured at Wedding Cake west (the western channel pile light, off Mosman).
A note on towing: the support boat has two tow ropes with clips. These should be attached to the tow eye of the TS16. Ideally the rescue boat would have a bar mounted forward of the engine, or a tow post, that the rope would be attached to (with a knot that can be quickly released). DSC7, the rescue boat we usually use, doesn’t have either. It does have a bridle, a rope strung behind the engine, that is awkward to reach. The bridle doesn’t have an eye, so the tow rope can also slide along it, which is less than ideal.
The usual method is to attach the tow rope to a cleat near the stern on one side on the rescue boat. But this can lead to problems, depending on conditions, pulling the rescue boat to that side. It simply is not possible to tow a TS16 alongside a rescue boat like DSC 7: DSC7 has a shallow draft, it is light and only has a 60hp engine. A TS16 with crew is heavier. A TS16 alongside will pull the rescue boat to that side. It simply is not possible to control the support boat under those conditions.