Dear avid catamaran sailors (and those who only can dream about sailing fast boats),
Report back on Richards Bay to Durban Epic. 11th February 2017
After an initial delay to the above event, originally set for 2 weeks earlier, we got the final instruction on Wednesday 8th February that the race would happen on Saturday 11th February, this year starting in Richards Bay. This is an annual event organised by the North Region (Gauteng) Hobie Class Association who invite all suitable catamarans with approved competent skippers to participate. The race direction is dependent on forecasted wind direction, as the race is set to be a downwind event. The final sailing direction is given on the Wednesday preceding the race and the race can be set on any day between Friday and Monday as conditions dictate as such.
Two starts are scheduled, the earlier at either at 06:00 or 07:00 hours with the second start at 08:00. The first start is for catamarans such as Hobie 16 and Dart 18s. The second start is for Hobie Tigers, NACRAs and Tornados. All boats had to carry trackers attached to each competitor (supplied by the organisers), flares and either a cell phone or radio, sufficient water and food, competitors also had to wear full wetsuits and spray jackets. A GPS was recommended and various safe locations along the coast were provided on a laminated chart, for those who needed to retire.
This year the race had 4 Hobie Tigers, 1 NACRA 20 and 4 Darts enter. I was sailing a Dart entered with spinnaker.
The entry fee is quite high at R1000,00 to cover the costs of an escort boat, which this year was a Rubber Duck. The Rubber Duck was skippered by LDYCs current Rear Commodore (Anthony Engelbrecht) and that commitment in itself is one huge undertaking, as he had to be at the start and accompany all the boats to Durban, a distance of 90 nautical miles (166km). Anthony had 2 more crew members on-board.
This year’s race was, I have been told, the most arduous race in years. The Hobie Tigers were initially predicting to get in to finish in around 6 hours with Darts finishing in 7 -10 hours. What transpired was a washing machine sea state and the wind never quite blew as forecast and actually started dying into the afternoon, not as forecast. The first Hobie Tiger got in after 16:00 and the last Dart got in at 18:45. Interestingly, I was the last Dart in! During the race the NACRA, a Hobie Tiger and two Darts retired due to various reasons. This race has to be considered the “Comrades Marathon” of sailing. I do believe that if one has inherent masochistic tendencies, then this race will be right up your alley! It is rather brutal!
My story in brief is thus: young Michael Dickerson and myself felt it would be a good idea to see how fast we could sail a Dart with spinnaker in this race. I selected my best Dart that never leaked, fitted it with a spinnaker kit and we entered the race. From the start we streaked away from other standard Darts to be 45 minutes ahead at Zinkwazi, where we had already been caught by the Tigers but were holding onto them. We heard a sound like a rifle shot from our boat, but nothing fell down and we could not see any visible damage. Soon after we started to progressively experience that our boat was getting more sluggish and not going as fast anymore, however, at La Mercy we made a call to rather not retire but take her easy and get her home. We had slowed to such an extent that Chris Clarke on his standard Dart, who had been a good hour behind us, caught us and passed us a mile before the finish. So we came in last! This has never been my favourite position, but this was all made better by the brilliant reception we got from fellow RNYC members and Dart sailors who came to meet us and de-rig the boat and pack it all up. Beer never tasted so good. Many thanks to Gavin Wadsworth, Neil Wadsworth, Alec McNamara, Richard Potgieter, Geetje Wadsworth, Linda Wadsworth and of course Sandy Samways for all their help. Neil reckons we emptied around 150 litres of water out of each hull! (My later inspection the next day found that the “O” Rings on the hatch covers don’t seal effectively under pressure test, so in wild waves breaking over the boat, we slowly took in water over 12 hours. I have yet to find what the rifle shot sound was, but something is lurking within that I need to discover and must have also been a contributing factor!?)
So you could ask the question: “would you do this again?” My answer is “absolutely no”……but the aches and pains do heal and soon we will be reminiscing about the good times. Then someone will think it’s a good idea to sail this again…. and “hey presto” …….I’ll find myself sailing this race in 2018 wondering why the hell I’m doing this?
(You will gather that all the boats entered were sailed, had no engines to run out of diesel, did not require NSRI assistance, neither were any abandoned to sink. Just saying!)
Midmar 9 hour, Saturday 18th February 2017
This regatta always has attracted good support and this year many RNYC members will be sailing this event. We have some very competitive Dart teams along with Halcat sailors also entered. More on this next week where we will briefly describe the regatta’s highlights.
Dart National Championships 2017 18-21 March
This week we have just received the sanctioned documents for this regatta, hosted by RNYC and sailed off Vetches Beach with cooperation from friends. We are hoping to get good support on this event and emulate the brilliant event sailed in November last year, being the Dart KZN Provincials also hosted by RNYC.
RNYC has become the new home of KZN Dart sailing with currently the biggest fleet of Darts in KZN at any one club. The fleet is still growing and with all the Durban clubs in the harbour, we now have 10 Darts sailing.
Dart single Handed National Championships 2017 Easter 14-17 April
PYC will be hosting this event within their overall Easter Regatta for dinghy’s, which has other classes also sailing Regional and National events. As the title states, this is for Single Handed Darts sailing under Mainsail only for qualifying to sail in this event.
Yours in sailing, in the passion for sailing and the love and care for boats.
Dart KZN Rep.