Newcastle 2015 - Blue Water Finale

Rating: 5.00/5 (3 Votes)

How do you get a nickname? Our watch captain and light air magician Dave might well find himself with a new one after yet another masterful performance early in the Pittwater to Newcastle race. David “Copperfield” Walsh called tactics off the line in around 2 knots of true wind to get us away in a fantastic position early in the race.

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Now it’s fair to say I was not so keen to sail all the way to Box Head. I was worried about the effect of the incoming tide, watching boats like Pretty Woman get sucked into the entrance to Brisbane Waters. I was looking at Occasional Course Language 1 who had elected to track further out to sea and thinking we should get out of the tide asap. Dave was adamant we needed to keep the nose up and stay in the extremely light wind which yes had the unfortunate side effect of being in the tide but was just strong enough to keep us moving in the right direction.

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Dave had the crew on his side who suggested we wait “5 minutes" to see if sticking with “Khaleesi” would pay dividends.  I have learnt it is always a good idea to listen to Dave, and so we waited and inched our way forward in the fleet. When it was time to get the light A1 spinnaker going we were in the leading pack of boats which included Harlequin and Khaleesi. OCL were out to sea and as the wind filled in we were in a pretty solid second or third on the water.

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Determined not to blow a good start like last year we moved weight around from windward to leeward and mainly forward to get the bum out of the water and reduce drag. The light reaching conditions suited us and we tried to extract the maximum from our position until the wind picked up and handed the advantage back to the bigger boats.  

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As we ghosted past Terrigal we could see the bigger boats “Pretty Woman” “Hussy” and “LeBillet” coming.. 


Caught! We had a fun tussle for position with LeBillet as they passed us around Norah Head.

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The rest of the race was pretty uneventful as we tried to hold onto the bigger boats as long as we could.

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We switched from spinnaker to headsail and back again to keep outside the headlands and in the breeze.

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We held onto Hussy bit longer than the other boats 

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 As the sun started to set we felt like we were having a pretty good race.

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We could see the lights of Newcastle not long after sunset.. 

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We had hoped to make it around the reef and headland as the wind went to the North but it was not to be. An extra tack out to sea was called for when realised we were not going to make it.

The sound of breakers is always eerie at night. They always sound closer than they are. 

All the good work nearly came undone as we approached the line and quickly realised we had miss read the amendment to the sailing instructions and subsequently missed the mark 1.5 miles out to sea from the finish.

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The celebration rum was put away and we took off for the sea mark asap. Nina got a tongue in cheek lesson in swearing while she steered us out to the orange flashing mark. Once around we got the spinnaker back up but the mood on board was sombre as the wind kept dropping, and tongue in cheek swearing turned into actual swearing. 

We had a little trouble finding the finish boat against the backdrop of orange lights and other buoys and channel markers. We finally got over the line albeit it disappointed, it seemed to us that we had blown a great position by losing a bunch of time right at the end of the race. To top it off, we had managed to tear the A1 spinnaker which found a spreader as we got it down in the dark.

It turned out that it was all a bit of a storm in a teacup we had saved enough time at the start of the race for it to not matter in the wash up as we still took first place on Performance Handicap.


So a big well done to the team and big props to Dave "Copperfield" Walsh on a cracking call out of the blocks. You can see a fantastic Video, Lynne put together of the race sped up to show 10 hours in 7 minutes below.