The Australia Day Regatta was held on the 26-01-11 for the 175th time. It is the oldest annual sailing regatta in the world and still going strong. Many events are planned each year from Offshore yacht racing, historic 18ft skiff racing to Ferry Racing it is always a celebration held near the water. While many families head to the nearest beach or council area for a breakfast and some thong throwing contests the sailors head to the clubs perpetuating the tradition of when Australia was founded. 

The B14’s again ventured up to Pittwater to compete in the Avalon Sailing Club Regatta. While numbers were down on last year, the 49ers, 16 footers and other larger skiffs stayed home (maybe due to the forecast!!), the event was shaping up to be a fine one! Orca Blush (AUS 368, Geoff an Caroline) and BSting (AUS 668, Josie and Daniel) ventured to the sunny shores of Clareville Beach and basked in sunshine and 30+ degrees.

As we headed out to the course there was a lovely 10kt NorEaster with the forecast saying it will build to 20kts. B14’s were in division 5 along with a 29er, after waiting for all the juniors to start we finally got our chance. The start was very clean with BSting getting the boat end above Orca Blush and the 29er. Orca Blush soon decided to tack off and go right to get away from BSting, who stayed left hoping the nor-easter would bend around the point. This seemed to be a bad idea; as they approached the layline the wind got light and along with a fair bit of chop from other boats they were forced to tack out. Their gamble paid off and the wind lifted a lot, and sails had to be eased to compensate. Top Mark rounding was BSting 1 closely followed by Orca Blush and on their heels was the 29er, who quickly got over the top with a nice hoist and a gust.

Downwind Orca Blush had good speed and was gaining on BSting, who gybed early and got into some more pressure. The next leg was similar, BSting went left as it was paying and Orca Blush went up the middle. Downwind they had good speed but just couldn’t get a nose in front. By the third upwind the wind was starting to get light (so much for 20kts!!) and BSting stuck to their routine of going left. Orca Blush decided however to stay to the right in anticipation for a potential southerly. The wind shifted more to the east and favoured them, they were looking very good compared to BSting crossing very close near the top mark. BSting however managed to stay infront and played the new wind perfectly downwind.

They gybed of quickly after the hoist to go left down the course and on approach to the bottom mark was running very shy due to the shifting wind. Orca Blush went a bit too far right and when they gybed back couldn’t hold a kite for too long. They were forced to drop half way down the course just as the wind got down to about 0.5kts. BSting at this stage were still in a bit of breeze at the bottom of the course and started to come upwind. They too quickly succumbed to the light wind and sat drifting, thinking the 3 flags up the mast were now such a bad idea!

Many juniors decided it was too hot and boring and that capsizing and swimming would be more fun, while others opted for the tow home option the skiffs persevered. The drift continued for what seemed like forever when all of a sudden wind could be seen. The nor-easter was back! BSting having maintained their position half way up the course managed to get it first and rounded the top mark half a lap infront of everyone else. A kite run down to the finish and they crossed in first.

At the end of the day BSting claimed first on scratch, first on handicap, and first senior. Orca Blush maintained a good lead on the 29er to get second on handicap.

The Australia Day regatta is always a bit of fun, with flags decorating all boats and a friendly atmosphere. A nice presentation and complimentary BBQ back at the club was the perfect ending to a fantastic days sailing.