Big River Single-hander Regatta 2014
by Tim Davies
Once again the OKs made their pilgrimage to Big River Sailing Club for the annual Single-hander/Rum-bucket Regatta. This has been a popular, and until this year, well-attended event that brings the NSW OK fleet together, including partners and family for a weekend that’s as much about relaxing, camping and the get together as it is about the sailing.
On the water, cattle stations are up for grabs as the river throws up a new set of weird and wacky experiences.
The promise of warm weather and good breezes didn’t disappoint. As we set up camp on the Thursday afternoon, a strong wind and tide-induced chop gave a glimpse of the river sailing challenges that lay ahead.
Thursday evening’s excellent seafood feast at Harwood Hotel was washed down with a few cleansing ales on the club house deck.
On a sunny Friday morning we hit the water for a pre-regatta warm-up. The river put on soft breezes and flat water, increasing to a fresh northerly by mid-afternoon. For us too great a temptation with the strong out running tide providing plenty of chop and some fun rides. On shore the kids were largely distracted from their electronic devices with fishing, paddle boarding and frog hunting popular choices.
No one was complaining when Saturday morning presented another hot, sunny day. Most were off to bed early the previous night and keen to hit the water. The afternoon start gave the river enough time to build up a sizable chop. The wind was moderate but gusty.
Three races with Mark and Peter mastering the tricky conditions, Eddie and Tim giving chase close behind. Mark finished the day with a perfect score and was going to be hard to catch.
Back at the clubhouse, Big River ‘super-chef’, Jan and all her helpers had been slaving away in the kitchen, cooking up a storm. Race competitors were rewarded with an amazing feast of meats, salads and desserts – no-one left with an empty stomach.
Sunday morning was an early start with the traditionally ‘tricky’ race of the series. The strong incoming tide almost overwhelming the light northerly winds. “Hero one minute, victim the next” sort of stuff.
Mark and Peter skipped to a handy lead with Tim staging a mid-race come back to threaten the lead, eventually falling foul to a riverbank hole. Mark once again taking the win.
The final two races saw an increase in breeze. Tim’s win preventing a Skelton whitewash. Eddie showing great pace as the breeze got stronger. Overall very close racing as usual. Mark showing a little more polish this time.
The yardstick result with the Impulses was interesting given the windy conditions - recently defected Browny in a borrowed Impulse first, then OKs second and third and all OKs in the top seven of the mixed fleet of around 15 boats.
After the presentation, a tired bunch of sailors and family settled in for fish and chips and the sharing of the victor’s cauldron of rum. No-one in a particular rush for the Monday morning trek home.
The Big River Sailing club, and all the willing and helpful volunteers, once again delivering a wonderful weekend and great racing – thanks to all involved.
1st Mark Skelton AUS753 JAB2
2nd Peter Robinson AUS750 Broken Arrow
3rd Tim Davies AUS739 Don’t Poke the Bear
4th Eddie O’Donnell AUS734 Cracked Pecker