Saturday, 6 January 2007 -
Invitation Race Day had arrived and the race was scheduled to start after 2pm as per the race program and sailing instructions. Many crews were at the club early to make the last minute adjustments to their boats - mostly minor repairs and a bit of bog spread about to patch yesterday's fun, together with plenty of sanding of foils and mast steps just to make it a little better etc. The local boat shops apparently close for the weekend from midday Saturday, so there was plenty of F11 regatta personnel beating a track from the club to the nearest supply depot to make the deadline just in case something might go wrong - as it always does.
The weather all morning was terrific for rowers on the Swan River, but an afternoon breeze from the South was scheduled to come in by start time. All the visitors awaited it with a little bit of anxiety however by 1pm it did what it was supposed to do and all awaited the drop of the AP as best they could. Once the local boats started to head out onto the course, the majority of the fleet followed suit realising it was definitely on.
The fleet of 43 boats started in a moderate 12kts of breeze varying between 250deg and 210deg - pretty much from the ocean but not the true Doctor as we were hoping for. Nonetheless, a good breeze for all. 1341 Flying the Coop's James Walters and Kyle Walters from Belmont 16ft Skiff's Club made the early break up the first work, with 1344 Panther, 1251 Scooter, 1318 Heroes & Villains getting a good start too. 1334 Ace's Peter Kendall & Louis Halford ran out of room at the pin but the time of the gun and expecting a general recall, simply continued on past the pin awaiting a new start. Unfortunately, no general recall was made with only 2 boats being noted for an individual, earning each an OCS. The fleet split early and fairly evenly to both sides of the course trying to jag the regular oscillation from left to right to left etc.
By the top mark, Flying the Coop had the clear lead, with 1344 Panther, 1318 Heroes & Villains, 1325 Trophers Toy (Jay Griffin & Chris Saunders) and 1335 Skye High (Alex McFadyen & Matthew Stenta) rounding together just behind. Not much separated the next 10odd boats by the top mark but the first reach to the wing mark began to stretch the fleet out a little with a few changes to their positions.
Around the bottom mark, Panther made their move and took the lead with some serious crash tacking to cover their opposition - something they achieved for the rest of the race. Many of the leading pack of 15 boats seemed in cruise mode at times, with some great gains and marked fall backs during the Invitation Race, many deciding to keep their powder dry for the first day of the Championship Heats. The local crews appeared to thoroughly enjoy a more substantial fleet to play with too, with the NYC's 1217 Rubber Ducky (Luc Tasker & Lucinda Crisp) up with the leaders showing their skill and local knowledge brings in the results.
There were some interesting toussles during the race, especially between cousins 1335 Skye High's Alex Mcfadyen and 1336 Crunchie's Olivia Price with her crew Lizzie Jones. These two kept the friendly family rivalry hot whenever the opportunity arose and by the finish line, it was either one's chance to cross over first. Unfortunately, Alex and Matthew had a "blonde" moment whilst covering 1311 Upbeat's Scott Schutz & Emma Knighton and headed toward the nearby finish boat for the Dragons Fleet instead of the F11 Committee Boat, leaving the line open for Olivia & Lizzie in Crunchie to claim first blood.
Everyone had a great sail in what turned out to be a beautiful day, many happy faces (see Photo Gallery) after the race and lots of fun had by all.
A few hours after the Invitation Race, the fleet was welcomed to the 2007 SUNSMART Flying Eleven National Championships by the Commodore of Nedlands Yacht Club, Greg Hill, with Ehlders Australia supplying the BBQ meat for about 200 people. The rest of the catering consisted of great salads and ice cream with sugar cones for dessert. The volunteers from NYC put on a terrific Welcome Night and the visitors all appreciated their efforts.
After some touch footy and general gas bagging, we all retired with the sun setting on the wrong side of the beach (as far as we are used to) rather sated and exhausted from a pretty big day.