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Goolwa Meningie 2011


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Goolwa Meningie Sailing Classic 2011 race summary as seen by Jeff Southall

The wind made this years 63 km Goolwa to Meningie race held on Saturday 19th November 2011 a fairly quick affair because the wind direction made the course a fairly direct course on Starboard with the first tack at the half way point when we got to the Narrung ferry in the Narrows, two quick tacks to get past the ferry, back on to starboard through the narrows and 8 tacks on Lake Albert to get us home to Meningie, the quickest boat a Taipan 5.7 catamaran did the race in 2hrs and 55 minutes.

Twelve trailer sailors started their race at 7.55am, four dinghy sailors set of at 8.55am, a Farrier Trimaran set off at 9.55am and our Catamaran start was at 10.55am. We setup the Nacra 5.8 early in the morning to give ourselves plenty of time to prepare, while setting up it was drizzling rain and blustery unlike the 10 knots South to SW wind that was forecast it was more like SE to SW with big swings and puffs. My wife Liz and I stuck to our plan of using the spinnaker and made the start line on time unlike a few boats that were up to 10 minutes late. The race started at Laffin Point the most Northerly part of Goolwa North with twelve catamarans, the three Taipan 5.7’s starting low to reach up the Goolwa river channel, other cats were spread all along the big start line which was two thirds the width of the river, we started high so we could carry the spinnaker (kite) on our Nacra 5.8, the Taipans took off right from the start and blasted away on a reach while we tried to get the kite going in only our third time using it, things quickly got exciting as we tried to blast down the Goolwa channel with lulls probably down to 8 knots followed by wind shifts and puffs around 20 knots, at one stage while we were both on the trapeze wire at the back of the boat with Jeff steering and sheeting the kite, our GPS showed us doing 17 knots next minute we were bearing away wildly with both bows under water and Liz letting out a squeal as the Nacra went up only for the kite to pull us up and away again. We did that about 4 times, during all of this we were able to stay in touch with the fleet but not the 3 Taipan 5.7’s that were tearing away so we packed the kite away. The field quickly spread out with the Taipan 5.7’s a long way ahead, we had a duel with Johnny Beaking on his A Class catamaran the whole race, once out of the Goolwa channel onto 400 square kilometre Lake Alexandrina past Loveday Bay the wind picked up for a great two on the wire reach in 2 ft chop with the GPS showing max speed of 17.9 knots then onto the lee shore past Point McLeay with Liz on the wrong side of the boat for some downwind wild thing as we headed for the rounding into the Narrows which is the creek between Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert.

It was our first time through the Narrows so with no boats in sight we found our own way to the mouth, just before the mouth we reached in with Johnny towards what turned out to be a shallow beach not the opening then went out again and found the mouth, we turned up wind on the wire still on starboard tack up the Narrows to the ferry where we did our first tack to port to get upwind of the creek, then another tack onto starboard carried us past the ferry and through the very picturesque Narrows. On the map the Narrows look wide but the maps don’t show all the reeds, we had to choose a channel just past the ferry, we wound our way hoping we were in the correct channel, quite a few times it looked like we were sailing into a dead end and might have to turn back only for the next opening to appear, the wind was dropping out with both crew sitting in then gusting with us both out in a hurry. We did two quick tacks to get out of the Narrows then onto Lake Albert still on Starboard heading SE, the wind was pretty consistent over most of the 240 square km lake and we knew to just keep trying to head South straight across to the other corner. As we crossed the lake with maximum downhaul there were no giant wind fluctuations but it was pretty tiring pounding through the two foot chop, Johnny wasn’t faring any better he headed of at wider faster angles to get the waves on a reach but each tack we passed pretty close to each other we must have changed the lead with him 15 times during the race. We passed some trailer sailors but could only see one cat behind us and none ahead as we did about 8 tacks across the Lake to get to the finish line at Meningie with Johnny just ahead on the reach he looked to have it in the bag but the wind dropped out 300 metres to the line we were able to just sneak by him on the line for fourth position.

By all accounts this is a rare example of this race to be able to sail on and in good wind most of the way is not normal, we’d heard accounts from years gone by of people after dark drifting to the finish line, during our race preparation we packed 8 bottles of water and about 30 muesli bars, It was so busy in the race that we drank about half a bottle that Liz poured in my mouth and ate nothing.

• The first three positions in the race were held from start to finish, Sam Dodds and his crew were first on their Taipan 5.7 in 2hrs 55mins, Mick Maguire and his crew was 2nd on his Taipan 5.7”Ricki Ticki”, Mark Watters and Amos Zadow were 3rd on their borrowed Taipan 5.7 “This Blows” a good effort for Marks first skippering of a Taipan despite his two capsizes. Jeff and Liz Southall 4th on Nacra 5.8 “Ram Raider” in 3hrs 33mins, Johnny Beaking 5th on his A Class “Zeus”. At the time of writing this the official results were still not posted but the other cats that finished were a Taipan 4.9, Mosquito, Brian Partridge and his brother on Stingray MK2 “Fantasia”, a Black Witch, 2 x Hobie 16’s and Kyle Nissen on his Cobra “Bear”

It was a great day for the mono hulls a lot of the trailer sailors were in Meningie by the time we arrived, the 30ft Farrier Trimaran blasted along the course to catch most of the monos.

The amount of water in the lower lakes is mind boggling and the scenery was superb, along the river there are cliffs, beaches, the excavators were working at Clayton clearing the global warming bund as we went past (apparently not warming as fast as they thought), birdlife was every where, we had our centre boards fully down through the narrows and across Lake Albert, a couple of times we thought we had touched the bottom but as we looked back we could see stunned fish floating, there must be a lot of fish in the lakes, lots of boats reported hitting them, some fish even kicked up the rudders on the Hobie 16’s. There is a big tourist boat that travels the same course as our race between the lakes if you get the chance go and have a look at this superb part of Australia.

Photos of the Black Witch are already on this site in that thread if you want to se more they're at


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