Conditions were so light before Race 16 that most crews spent the late morning in the clubhouse, their boats not yet rigged, monitoring the wind down harbour.
It was not promising. But by midday there were faint stirrings and after due consideration the race official, Ken Nagle, decided the race would go ahead. One factor in his decision was that the race was a championship, and the last one had been abandoned due to lack of wind. Under the sailing instructions, two thirds of the race has be sailed to counted. The wind was a nor-easter, and the north-east course, unlike the others, consists of two triangles followed by the sausage. Ken’s thinking was that if sailors could complete the two triangles within the allotted three hours, it would qualify as a championship race. And that is what happened.
Nine boats drifted towards the start line. Then, as if heeding the hooter signalling the race was about to start, a slight breeze sprang up, and the fleet got across the line.
Uncle Norm, Eric Partland and Gary Wills, won both the championship race and the handicap.
Gary said they were first across the line. “Everything fell into place. We happened to be in the right place at the right time. We got round the top market first and got away.”
Eric said the key was being first around that first mark.
He also said they were fortunate enough to get a good breeze. But you don’t win three championship races and beat the second place getter by 22 minutes just from good fortune.
Eric said he and Gary are the lightest crew, “because the boat is quick downwind it’s a huge advantage in light breezes”.
On the second work the wind swung around to the east, which gave Uncle Norm, which was leading, an advantage. Though they had their moments, bobbing around off Cockatoo in the second downwind run, becalmed, waiting for a breeze.
The race was sailed on a run-out tide, and choosing a course on the downwind run was critical to some placings.
Uncle Norm was first across the line, winning by a huge margin of 22 minutes. Aeolian, Darren and Kylie Chignell, was second, with Helen Joy, Chris Giaquinto and John Whitelock, third. In fact the rest of the fleet, from second to ninth, finished within 12 minutes of each other.
Uncle Norm, the scratch boat, was the winner on handicap, with Tempo, Peter Dallas and Ian Campbell, second and Helen Joy third.
Uncle Norm is leading the Championship point score, and with four firsts and one more championship race to go, is now impossible to beat, though Eric points out that on two occasions they only beat Tranquil by 14 seconds, and “those 14 seconds could have changed the outcome.” Tranquil, Neil Johnson and Bret Pollitt, is second and Aeolian third.
Annette, Ron Johnston and Ben Speed, is leading the season point score, with Uncle Norm second and Murphy’s Law, David and Russell Johnston, third.