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My A-Class Nationals Experience


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My First Nationals.

There I am, all excited on Boxing Day watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart blue water classic. I am leaving the next morning to head to Hervey Bay with my A-Class that I have never sailed for the National Titles.

I wake up and it is a sensational, albeit hot day. Finish packing the car and head north. 25 minutes later I am at a standstill before I even get on the expressway out of Sydney. There is no was that I am expressing anything anywhere in this gridlock. I take the Old Pacific Hwy and it is flowing and I come back onto the F3 at Peats Ridge. A good move by all means.

I have the cricket on the radio, the wind in my hair and the sun is shining (maybe I should turn that into a song), and all is well until the Karuah Bypass. I stop dead and sit there for over an hour. The RTA have put in a traffic management plan to keep accidents down. I am guessing that if you are not moving then there will be no accidents, so I suppose it works.

I finally get to Port Macquarie eight hours after I left Sydney.

The next day it is off the Brisbane to meet with a few friends for a couple of days and then I head to Hervey Bay. Will I ever get there? Four hours north of Brisbane??? Maybe Mark Webber would, but I couldn’t.

Finally get to the most humid town on the eastern seaboard and I get the announcement from Glenn Ashby. “Beer Ahoy”. Music to my ears.

On the Friday I chose not to sail the invitation race, but thought it better to actually just sail the boat as I had absolutely no idea about anything, even rigging it. I also hadn’t raced seriously for over 13 years on my own boat, and here I was on a German Flyer sailing solo for the first time. I think the rest of the fleet were more than happy that I stayed out of the way.

On the Saturday I started my first race. I didn’t go too fast and only threatened the race committee with a late finish and no beer by the time we got home, but I had an absolute blast, as I did the next day where I found some speed and had a few boats for a change behind me.

Monday arrives and it is about 35 degrees and 7000% humidity and I get to the club. There is a hole in my boat from some #@&*% idiot who had nothing better to do than take the cover off my boat and put a pair of pliers through it. What a downer. Not to worry, I borrow some metal tape (thanks John) and cover the hole (adding about 2kg’s to the boat) and get ready to head off again. Hit the beach and see the little bastards that attacked my boat also got one of my forestays that is now only holding on by bee’s dick.

Bruce helps me out with a replacement and I drop the sail and the rest of the rig and replace it in about five minutes and bolt to the beach to get to the start, but it is postponed due to lack of wind. Ah well. The fastest change in history and for nothing. The wind picks up in the afternoon and in the first race I actually get a half decent start, and head to the right. When I tack to starboard I jump out on the wire to find the %$*&@$ idiots that did the hole and the forestay also got the trap rope and in I go.

I held the main and the boat capsizes on top of me which is ok as I am still with it, but as I go to swim through, the loose trap wire manages to tangle itself all around me. After a while swimming under the mainsail and having a dugong look over me while all this was happening, I finally got upright and headed into the beach. First in and got a few coldies into me.

That was if for me. Lay day the next day and boy was I looking forward to that. Then someone tells me the meaning of a lay day was not exactly what I thought it was so instead, off to Fraser Island for a day trip. It was absolutely sensational.

The next sailing day I found it a little too strong for my little experience on the boat so I enjoyed the view from the club and lunch at the marina and had a great day looking around Hervey Bay. Realistically you only need about half an hour, but I walked slowly.

I pack up the next day and look forward to the presentation evening, where as I enter the room Robbie Lovig, the Tornado winner was being interviewed by Channel 7 and Dave McKenzie was acting like a drunk behind him. I spose you had to be there but it was pretty funny.

I got fined by the Association for falling off my boat, but I got away with it cheaply as I actually fell off twice during the regatta, but only got caught once.

Friday and it is heading home day. I’m all packed up and hit the frog an toad, very hard actually. Just out of Hervey Bay the Mackay Multi-Link trailer decides it would rather stay. The springs on the left hand side snap when I am going 100km/h. What a ride. I end up on the wrong side of the road and back on the correct side and the trailer is all over the place.

Thank god there is no injuries and the boat is also ok. Trailer is absolutely screwed. Get a truck to Maryborough and then take most of the day to find another truck to get the mess to Brisbane. I finally get to Port Macquarie minus and A-Class at 3am after leaving at about 9.30. By the way, thanks to Glenn and Mel for their help on the side of the road in the rain while we cleaned up the mess. My fiancée Gini was a big help to as I was rather upset and pissed off. She was very calming.

To top it off, I pick up a new Multi-Link trailer from Mackay in Brisbane last week and pick up the boat and 20km down the road, the right hand side lets go. Another night in the rain and without a usable trailer. I am a pro at it by now so got underway the next day.

I must say, I had a great time and met some great people and I am looking forward to many years in the class.

Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way, and please, keep helping as I would like to finish on the same leg as you next year.

Matt Cowley

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The vandals realy put a dampening on the regatta..... Got some of the Tornadoes as well. At least they caught the pricks and compensation should be on its way.

Gotta feel for the sailing club also. This will be remembered for along time and may discourage sailors form attending regattas there.

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Its an each way bet, but consider the New England highway in future via tamworth to brisbane or even avoiding brisvegas and go via gatton, esk to caboolture and then up the bruce. Alternatively gatton to kingaroy,murgon to maryborough and hervey bay and because its through Joh country the roads are excellent. Its hell on wheels on the pacific highway between brisbane and sydney over Christmas-new year, but the inland route has much less traffic.

The A class nationals got terrific publicity in the HB local paper, the Fraser Coast Chronicle, with B&W and full colour photos and stories. Its a pity the only front page stories were on the vandal attack while the racing itself was relegated to the back pages.

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Thanks Matt for your comments on the A Class nationals at Hervey Bay. It's heartening to see a "victim" can maintain a sense of humour about the whole thing.

I've heard so many ridiculous rumours about the event that as the A Class Association organisor of the event, I would like to put some context on it.

Like many other clubs around the country, HBSC is located on public land and shares it's surrounds and beach with the general public. With this in mind, during the planning for the event I discussed security with HBSC officials. Many possibilities such as temporary fencing for the whole area were considered but discarded because of cost and public access issues. We eventually decided on floodlighting for the area and a security company patrol eight times each night. When two individuals caused damage to three of the 57 boats at the regatta, the A Class Association Tornado Association and HBSC immediately engaged at very significant cost, a full time security guard to be on site continuously each night for the rest of the regatta. This resulted in no further damage to boats and ultimately the two individulas being caught and charged with the earlier damage. The response by the police in investigating and gathering forensic evidence was excellant. The HBSC were also excellant.

Unfortunately, many of those present told similar stories about vandalism to boats and club facilities in their home areas becoming much more common. I doubt that if you left your car at a western Sydney railway station carpark over night on New Years that it would escape unscathed. It is a sad fact of life that such things are becoming more common and all of us who organise regattas will have to factor in the cost of higher levels of security. Since the regatta I've been talking to the organisor of the next nationals (14 ft skiffs) at HBSC next Xmas. They will simply add more security costs to the entry fee. I don't think there will be any reduction in the number of regattas being held at Hervey Bay. The Hobies are there at Easter and 14's for nationals. It's a great place to sail and the club are very good at running events. And I don't think we should let two ?$#@%heads spoil our enjoyment.

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Well said John, I think today we have to focus more on security for our regattas as this is becomeing more common and the boats are getting more expensive.

With the price of boats today, work comittments ect, it is hard enough to get boats on the water without wallies screwing it up for us. Hopfully your future regattas are incident free and ease eveybodies mines.

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20 years ago we had three trampolines slashed during the Mooloolaba Hobie Nationals. This stuff has always been a problem at public venues.

For the Hobie States at Hervey Bay which will have a bumper fleet, we have organised security measures which will hopefully solve the problem.

Thanks for the warnings


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