Weather conditions were critical as sailing instructions required a minimum of 4 races to constitute a series and this was needed in two days. Friday’s weather looked bleak for sailing but Saturday proved far better for the 11.00 start. With a nip in the air and a breeze of 3-8 Knots coming from the NNW the shore was a buzz of activity as fourteen yachts prepared for racing. Five slick races were sailed Saturday with the last race finishing by 1730 hrs.
From the first race the competitive nature of the fleet combined with the skills on each yacht gave an indication of what was to come. In the first race 42 seconds separated the local entry LAUGH A MINUTE and TYC entry of US'N’J for a 1st with SHAMBLES 55 seconds later in 3rd. The young newcomer to the fleet Marcello Marica, skipper on JUICE with Amtec’s Mike Hayton showed his potential with a 5th 38 seconds between 1st and 2nd.
In Race 2 saw MAJIC- Jessica Lenz and crew move from 6th (subsequently her discard) to 2nd and then she repeated this result in Race 3. JUICE had their best result, a 4th in the series.
JAYWALKER on the other hand did not have a good 3rd race. On the 1st leg they wandered off into the dam onto the way to Steve’s place! They appeared totally lost and confused but claims he saw some wind shift from there! HAKAHANA also lost valuable places going off to the "game reserve" side of the course on the last leg of the race (must have thought this was the “Kruger” park) only to realise they were way off course as the Blue flag on bridge was flying and the finish line was open. A valuable lesson to all crew don’t forget to count laps and watch the flags.
Race 4 saw a turnaround for CELL-C who had had a few challenges in the previous races. Let’s say CELL-C, including others, had perfected the 360/720 penalty. A 1st in the next 2 races improved their overall position and they certainly went home hoping for wind on Sunday.
Great to see Donovan Kruger on HAKAHANA showing his potential with a 6th in this race but never far off the pace. Surprisingly the Race Officer, Mario Scalco, never needed to bring out a black flag. But, his team had to be organized and quick-witted to deal with the close finishes in each race.
A beautiful clear blue sky as well as two perfectly rigged brand new Optimists greeted sailors on Sunday at breakfast. That is another story to be told at future regattas. At the first sign of possible wind boats were rigged but despite two valiant attempts at starting races it was not to be. At 1400 hrs the final signal was sounded.
The winner, LAUGH A MINUTE- John Brookman/ Dave Martinson and Ayshia Genloud had a convincing win with a net 8 points. CELL-C, disappointed with the lack of wind, finished 2nd overall with US'N'J finishing 3rd.
The hospitality, fantastic improvements and renovations to the Witbank Yacht and Aquatic Club, great racing organisation and ideal sailing waters all contributed to a memorable regatta that I am sure will see many J boats returning in 2014. For more J/22 South Africa sailing information