2014 Apollo Bay Race - A Great Day in the Office

From quite early in the game, the 2014 Apollo Bay Race was shaping up to be a flyer.  While initial forecasts had the wind a little on the light side, later ones showed strong winds and eventually a strong wind warning was posted by the Bureau.  What didn’t change was the direction which remained steady from the earliest forecasts at around North West, give or take the odd degree or two.

What the competitors got was a mix or wind strengths, starting a little light and getting heavier before lightening off a bit later.  Many mentioned light wind holes, especially further in, and one boat mentioned a tendency to get forward of the beam a bit.

All of which is trivial compared to the great day’s sailing that everyone I managed to speak to reported.  A beam reach, plenty of wind, warm like you wouldn’t believe, champagne sailing all the way.

Sadly, NINETY SEVEN withdrew from the race on Friday night due to an ill crew member, who we are pleased to report has recovered very well.

The ORCV is very keen to avoid incidents with large ships coming into and out of the Heads.  Melbourne is a very busy port and there can be many of these.  To help in this respect a Notice to Competitors was issued to include an additional virtual mark of the course which was designed to ensure yachts transited the heads west of the main shipping channels.

The Race Director announced the current race record of 05h 24m 04s held by KAOS at the pre-race sign on sked, as the forecasted conditions were such that the 15 year record looked vulnerable and there were certainly boats in the fleet ready to give it a go.

Race Management used a second radio car in addition to the ORCV Radio Van to provide constant VHF monitoring of the fleet during the entire race.  The first sked was taken by Assistant Race Director Rik Head using his radio setup on Teddy’s Lookout above Lorne.  Rik took the second from above Cape Patton with good reception to both ends of the fleet.

Race got underway at the scheduled 0230 time in absolutely glorious conditions for this time of year, quite mild a North Westerly wind, aft of abeam around 13 knots and flat seas.  The Race Director watched the fleet away from the beach behind the Draper’s Reef pile quite comfortable wearing just a tee-shirt and fleece.

TRYBOOKING had a great start at the Draper Reef end of the line and was sporting a row a fairy lights around the entire top life line – an interesting look.

An apparent wind angle of around 120 degrees provided the fleet with fast reaching conditions and many flew Spinnakers or Code 0’s shortly after the start.  The fleet exited Port Phillip Bay at good pace for the drag race to Apollo Bay.

SIMPLY FUN was on race record pace at the first Routine Position Reporting Schedule at 0605.

Condition reports from the fleet for most of the race were wind mostly from North West ranging from 12 to 15 knots, with a few lighter patches and the occasional gust up to 24 knots, and flat seas.  The offshore breeze, as yachts got a little closer to the coastline as they approached Apollo Bay, was a little fluky and ranged from 3 to 20 knots at times.

In the end, SIMPLY FUN missed the race record by a mere 5 minutes and 4 seconds – a fantastic effort in the yacht’s second ocean race, after taking Line Honours in the 2013 Melbourne to Launceston race.

Most of the fleet couldn’t resist the ideal conditions and elected to return back to back to Port Phillip Bay immediately after they crossed the Apollo Bay finish line.

 

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