Yea / Nay? – FRI 15 APR 2016
What started as a joke and the forwarding of a few emails between myself, the Bowman, the Navigator, Waggers, Matt and Reedy has now seen Quo Vadis signed up for the 2016 Noelex National Championships, to be held at the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron (RMYS). The Navigator had some lame excuse about “de-fluffing his naval” which is just as well as it’s the first time that I’ve ever had to knock back crew 😦 however the chance to do another regatta with Matt & Reedy is not to be missed – sorry Waggers. Having two gun sailors on board has created the opportunity to have a new main and jib made – it seemed a bit incongruous having two national champions on board with the original 1989 sails! Peter Green Sails reckon I will have a set of class compliant sails to pickup from them in Melbourne the day before the Nationals. Heres hoping!
It will be Bowman’s first national championship and my first time sailing on Port Phillip Bay. Here’s hoping the weather is good!
The plan is to leave Canberra early on Fri 13 May and drive the 700 km / 8 hours to St Kilda where we will launch the boat and berth it at the RMYS. We are still not sure if we are going to stay at a local hotel or if we will sleep on the boat. I’m tending towards the hotel option so that we can keep the weight down and get gear off the boat! Racing is scheduled for Sat 14th and Sun 15th May. We will retrieve the boat after racing on the Sunday, Bowman and I will break the drive home at Puckapunyal or Bandianna ($10 a night accommodation) while Matt and Reedy will fly back to Canberra. We aim to have the boat back in Canberra by lunchtime on Monday. I’m glad the trailer is in good condition – we’ve already driven 3,200 km since the end of August 15 when we collected the boat!
DAY 1 – FRI 13 MAY 16
We were off to an early morning start, Brendan arrived at 0515 to help do the final trailer setup, while Matt and Reedy arrived with breakfast and coffees at 0545 (I’ve never had a Bacon & Egg McMuffin without the cheese before – its just not the same!). Underway just after 0600 we headed off to Melbourne, with a quick stop at Bookham to check the trailer and then another at Glenrowan to get fuel. A quick look in the back of the car confirmed the two skilled sailors psyching themselves up for the big event!
We arrived at the St Kilda Marina Boat ramp just after 1400, so spot on 8 hours door to ramp with breaks. It was a very fast rig of the boat with three additional helpers and then a wait for the sail maker who had promised to meet us at 1430 at the boat ramp. After some delay and a number of phone calls where we were assured that he had the sails and would meet us “shortly” we decided to set off – I took the car and bags up to Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron while Matt, Reedy, and Brendan sailed the boat the 2 ½ km up the east side of Port Philip Bay to meet me there.
After checking in to the RMYS, and working out that the walk from the yacht club to the jetty was one kilometre, we waited around for the sail maker – by now quiet worried as we had no sails and he was almost 3 hours late. Reedy made the most of the time taking everything that was not bolted onto the boat, off it – anything that might save weight!
After making the boat look positively anorexic we decided to wait for sail maker in the bar – and of course just as we sat down for the first drink he arrived 😦 Having packed the boat away – and now with no opportunity for a test sail, we stayed at RMYS, had a steak dinner and caught up with some friends of Matt and Reedy.
Matt and Reedy were keen to point out that it was the least prepared that either of them have ever been for a regatta . . . new sails, only sailed on the boat once for an hour, no rehearsals, no idea of the competition!
DAY 2 – SAT 14 MAY 16
With strong winds forecast (20 knots) we had the full fat boys breakfast at a local coffee shop, bought some sandwiches and then headed down to the boat to set up the new sails (a few challenges, like the batten luff hanks not fitting, were quickly overcome). The Class inspector arrived – John Burgess. I was initially concerned as I decided not to purchase his excellent NX25 when were looking to upgrade (we didn’t like the colour!) – and was subsequently relieved to find out that he had sold it 3 weeks previously – all was forgiven! With no issues we headed out for a quick rehearsal in the last hour before the race.
The wind continued to build, and everyone became very focussed. Matt had four stella starts and we achieved a 2nd, 1st, 2nd and 2nd places. I would like to say more about it however we were all very focussed on our tasks – Brendan as a new bowman in strong winds, with me on the rail upwind, as Matt and Reedy provided the talent picking the best positions and making the best of the strong conditions to end the day on 5 points (2 point drop) behind the lead boat Leewana on 3 points (2 point drop) and ahead of our nearest rival Running Free on 9 points (4 point drop)
At the conclusion of the last race, we discovered that the outboard (again – like our last two trips) did not want to start, so Matt and Reedy gave us a lesson in seamanship and brought the boat back into the marina pen under sail only!
Dinner with the Noelex 25 Association was held at a local pizza restaurant where we met some great people with a vast range of cruising and racing experience – then an early night and to bed!
DAY 3 – SUN 15 MAY 16
An early start to get back down to the boat to see if the engine would start . . . it didn’t! Matt and Reedy provided yet another master class as we sailed the boat out of the pen, through the marina to the start area.
The forecast 25 – 30 knots winds hadn’t yet eventuated and the lighter conditions didn’t appear to suit Quo Vadis as much. Races 5 and 6 saw us place 4th and 5th respectively in 10-15 knot fluky conditions. The new norm, no engine, saw us sail back into RMYS where collected our gear and headed up to the RMYS bar for the prize giving. While waiting we caught up with Geoffrey and Elizabeth, the new owners of Blue Print, who had made a special trip up to Royal Melbourne to say hello and to see how we were getting on. It was a nice surprise and great to catch up with them both!
The results were finally released and we were stoked to find out that Quo Vadis had placed 2nd in the Championships. Matt and Reedy graciously put it down to a team effort, however Dumb and Dumber know better!
After saying farewell to Geoffrey and Elizabeth, I shuttled the car and gear back to the Marina to have the trailer connected and ready for the boat to arrive. By now the wind had shifted to the west and was 25 knots – Matt, Reedy and Brendan again sailed the motor less Quo Vadis out of the RMYS, down the coast and into the St Kilda Marina. They made something so difficult look so easy!
I was worried for a nano-second that they were going to sail the boat onto the trailer! The retrieval went well, with the mast dropping showing a cracked spreader – very thankful that it held out for the regatta and very thankful that racing was completed before the westerly cold front came through!
After dropping Matt and Reedy off at Southern Cross Station to get a bus out to the airport, Brendan and I headed up the highway with boat in tow towards Canberra, stopping off at Puckapunyal (an Army base, about a 125 km north) where we checked into the School of Armour. What was meant to be an early night did not actually turn out that way as we got caught up with a group of captains who were close to completing their Combat Officers Advanced Course.
DAY 4 – MON 16 MAY 2016
After a cholesterol laden breakfast we hit the road for the final 570 km back to Canberra. No real issues – the boat and trailer travelled well, and we arrived back home at 1430 which gave us time to de-stow the boat, wash the salt water off, and get it back to the yacht club yard and to be at school in time to collect Cabin Boy from soccer training.
When I first thought about entering the NX25 National Championships it was with the intent of learning a lot more about the class and with the hope that we wouldn’t embarrass ourselves. The addition of Matt and Reedy to the crew really turned it into a master class for both Brendan and I. It provided a great opportunity to meet some new people and put faces to the names of people in the NX Association who we had corresponded with. Most importantly is provided a great weekend away with good friends – watching them do what they do best. Matt and Reedy are artists whose medium is the wind. There are very few people who can take two novices, an untried and new to them boat, and place at a National Championship – while having a great time doing it! Thanks guys!
I finally found a local Mercury mechanic to look at the outboard. There was no way that the previous mechanic in Paynesville stripped and cleaned out the carby – at best he might have given it a quick blow out with air. The chambers were full of gunk – not sure if this was an accumulation over time or a bad fuel batch. All fixed now and running great again.
6 months later the engine is running strong – it just makes a huge difference finding the right mechanic!