AFTER a windy week, members at the Stawell Yacht Club hoped for more settled conditions at Sunday’s pennant race.
The wind had certainly abated by the weekend, and the main difficulty was going to be from which direction it would blow.
After the initial course had been laid to suit a light westerly breeze, it had to be altered only minutes before the start of the race to suit a southerly breeze.
Visiting UK yacht-master Geoff Ford who had kindly volunteered to operate the clubs start boat for the day was not phased, and promptly reset the start line to ensure a windward top mark.
The five-minute countdown started soon after, and the jostling for a position on the start line commenced.
With a shifting breeze, there was a mixture of boats heading in different directions as they approached the start line.
A few ‘starboard’ calls were heard – the sailing equivalent a golfers ‘fore’ – and collisions narrowly avoided.
For one sailor though, Mark Knights sailing impulse dinghy Zepher, in an effort to avoid a collision was forced over the line before the official starter’s hooter was blown.
He was quickly called back to the start line before rejoining the fleet as they tacked towards the top mark.
One sailor who managed to avoid the congestion at the start line was Ross Bennett sailing ‘In a Pink Fit’.
Within 200 metres after leaving the start line, Bennett had pulled out a narrow lead from Andrew Pearce and Jan Ibs von Seht, also sailing the clubs preferred design boat, the impulse dinghy.
By the time Bennett had reached the top mark, he had established a commanding lead.
For those sailing in his wake, it was not as clear cut who had the upper hand.
The minor positions were to change regularly over the next 13 legs.
Visiting Horsham yacht club commodore Steve Marcroft sailing a laser was also in the hunt for a minor position.
In the end though, no one would could get close to Bennett who maintained the lead from start to finish, crossing the finish line in 1 hour 13 minutes & 20 seconds.
Next over the line but almost five minutes behind the leader was last week’s winner Andrew Pearce with Ibs von Seht only seconds behind.
When the clubs Officer in Charge of Racing, George Grellet, had applied the various handicaps though, the winner of round four for the pennant series was Ross Bennett in first position, Mark Knights in second and Andrew Pearce in third.
Visiting UK Yachtmaster Geoff did such a great job officiating the race, club members are hoping he can come back soon, but next time sailing one of the clubs 125 dinghys.
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