A reduced field of 6 skiffs set sail to contend the “Dodge” trophy. Three of the skiffs were of the clubs faster boats of modern design whilst the remainder were the handicap backmarkers of the fleet. Adding to the difficulties of the slower boats was the fact that two were carrying crew who had not previously sailed on a 12’ skiff, noted as being one of the most difficult of dinghies to sail.
The day saw varying wind strength and direction, so the selection of sail size (12’s can have big, medium or small sail sets) was varied with one boat choosing big, two boats medium, and the three slower boats choosing small.
A handicap start, where the slower skiffs are let go first saw “At Call” John Malquiney and Angus Musgrove made a great break over the other two, and established a handsome lead until trapped with no wind and unfavourable tide in the Lane Cove River’s infamous entrance well known to sailors as “Humbug”. “Space Junk “whose rookie crew, Andrew Basil joined skipper Ailsa Jeans to try out sailing, was first to capsize in the variable conditions and after a few more swims, despite both being competitive swimmers Ailsa thought it wiser to retire. “Rip, Rack, Roar and Rumble” skippered by Ken Williams and crewed by rookie Charles Lilley, made a wobbly start but improved as the pair got the feel of working together. “RRRR” managed to pass “At Call” in “Humbug” with no understanding on the part of the skipper as to how this happened.
Meanwhile back at the club the faster skiffs were making to the water to start. “Chapman High Performance Sailing” Jack Winning and Brett Phillips (Combined crew age around 120 years) were really after the prize and decided to put on the big sails, however during rigging some very basic mistakes that Brett attributes to a “senior’s moment“ meant that the skiff had to be returned to the slips for correction. Time lost was not able to be recovered for a handicap placing but the pair achieved 3rd fastest time.
“The Bird” Dave Lusty and Glenn Farquhar did most things right and sailed away to pass the slower skiffs by the time two thirds of the race had passed. This skiff, which is an ex interdominion champion, must have a sense of its own, because even though Dave and Glenn both fell of the boat at the same time near the Drummoyne mark, the skiff managed to stay upright and then take them on to victory.
Last skiff away was “Skoll” sailed by Peter Polec and Rob Joyce. They sailed consistently to gradually close in on the slower boats. The pair on “Rip Rack Roar and Rumble” were improving their boat speed and also had managed to get through the bulk of the race without capsize so towards the end of the race the pressure was on for them to hold their lead. This they did finishing second with “Skoll” finishing a very close third.
“At Call” was the last skiff home with Skipper John Malquiney pleased to get home with time to reflect on the race over a beer in the clubhouse.
Fastest time for the day was taken by “The Bird” with “Skoll” second and “Chapman High Performance Sailing” third.
By Ken Williams