slammer Posted May 27, 2007 Report Share Posted May 27, 2007 There is no other sound like it. The bang and jingle of a boat trailer rolling over a hump in the road. Like Santa’s sleigh but out of tune, the sound was unmistakably that of another cat trailer pulling in to the club camping area. I observed this from my slumber and, as my eyes adjusted to luminous dial on my watch face, (I was not long in bed after leaving the welcoming party) I noticed it was 1.30 am. These guys had traveled from Queensland and as the car glided to a stop a cold Bundy and cola was thrust into the drivers hand. This was Wildcat hospitality, above them the skies were clear and the palm trees rustled as the sea breeze blew gently, another smile as the trip had already been worth while. Saturday morning of the long weekend and it was a perfect day. A morning breeze drifted across the lake. Cats were let out of their trailers and assembled on the shore. There was a bit to do before the first race, rigging would be important, registration an essential and of course catching up with friends and past competitors. With over 80 boats registered for the regatta it was going to be a great event. Rivalry would be intense, the Hobies were in final preparation for their Worlds in Fiji the following week. The Taipans were sizing each other up for their state titles a few weeks away and the 14’ cats were simply maintaining the rage. The morning breeze dropped off and as briefing was under way the nor’ easter moved in from the sea. Sails gave a flick and crews finished off the last of lunch and hit the water. Two races straight up for the afternoon with a perfect nor easter settling around 12 knots. The 84 boats constituted four divisions with Hobie 16’s constituting an entire division with 26 Hobie 16’s in the line up. Then there was a miscellaneous small cats constituting an amalgamation of Maricats, Hobie 14’s and Paper Tigers. The miscealleous 16 cat fleet made up of A Class and Taipans, finally there was the Big cat fleet which was a combination of F18 Tigers, Capricorns, NACRA’s and the occasional F16. Sunday saw the sea breeze struggle to get on shore and racing began mid afternoon with a gentle easterly . Thankfully the breeze built with most crews twin trapping. The breeze held and three races were run through the afternoon. It was paradise really, twin trapping in an easterly, warm sun on the back. Sailing back to shore with the sun setting and the beers chilling in the fridge then just drop the sail and relax. With competitors camping right on the lakes edge and the event being fully catered for the decision was whether to stay at your own tent or cruise the sites and catch up with others. Sunday night was the NRL grand final and with the Great Lakes Sailing Club providing dinner and a huge screen to watch the grand final it was a great evening. Eventually the lights were switched off at 2 am and those remaining headed off to bed and into deep slumber. The Monday following a grand final is often referred to as Mad Monday, reflecting the behaviour of those who have competed in the previous days events. Well, today was Mad Monday for Wildcat competitors. Sunday’s change had come in early in the morning, the front didn’t come as far north as Forster and the breeze had built to 15knots from the North West. Excellent, stuff and time to hit the water. The breeze was consistent across the lake but the chop seemed to stand up around the top marks. This familiar but unusual occurrence has led to this part of the lake to be referred to as ‘the washing machine’. Dreaded for its short deep chop, in the 2004 Laser masters regatta sailors often returned with clothes cleaner than ever before. The breeze built and settled in around 18 knots with occasional gusts around 23 knots. This was huge fun for some, but hard work for the A class boats who seemed to want to take off rather than keep flat. The crews worked hard as they tacked towards to top mark. The waves playing havoc with the crews with frequent ankle taps knocking feet from the hulls. The run down wind was edge of the seat stuff with crews sitting on the back beams as the cats scalded down wind. Steve Brewin’s A Class lost the entire rig as the side stay disintegrated. Soon others were burying the bows deep into the water with some of the leaders capsizing spectacularly. The Taipans hit the water fairly hard whilst the Maricats and paper tigers powered. The look in the eyes of F18 crews seemed remote and distant as though they were driven by evil thoughts. The F18’s felt no pain and were launching the kites as soon as they rounded to top mark. Spectacular flashes as the kites pumped the rigs as they sped downwind. With the boats carrying so much momentum the gybe midway downwind was most spectacular the with crews being extra nimble to ensure that a capsize wasn’t a certainty. At the last of the boats finished the race the wind had built to an uncomfortable 20 knots and it was decided that that was enough. Six races had been completed and everyone was certain that we’d all had enough. It was time to pack up and head home. Presentation was to follow and the winners recognized for their efforts. The Wildcat regatta is the stuff of legend. And for over 35 years the regatta has been held on the October Long Weekend. It is part of many family holidays. Such is the Wildcat regatta, that with only the smallest of sponsorship and with advertising which is limited to word of mouth and online forums crews have traveled from QLD, Victoria, Bunbury in WA, the South Coast of NSW and from inland. Olympic qualifier Darren Bundock came here as a kid and was playing on the shore when his family would be out sailing. This weekend Darren was here again playing and catching up with friends and not sailing. As polite as ever he gladly helped out at the presentation and gave the prizes out to the all the divisional places and winners. This was a great weekend and what better way the start the season. One by one the trailers pulled out of the club and up the hill out of site with the faint jingle trailing off in the distance. [This message has been edited by slammer (edited 25 October 2007).] Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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