2018 Apollo Bay Race Wrap Up
Congratulations to all podium place getters for last weekend's Apollo Bay race. This category 3 race bookends the ocean racing season and is always well attended. This year was no different with 22+ entrants putting their hands up for the race. In the event there were a couple of drop outs before the gun but all who were able lined up at 0330 on 19/05 2018 for the start.
The weather was kind to the participants. A stalled high (still stalled at the time of writing) made conditions fairly predictable with a general WSW airflow over the race area ranging from 15-20 in the morning to 20-25 in the afternoon.
This of course led to an interesting problem for navigators. It was a beat all the way to Apollo Bay but do you go inshore or offshore. Inshore the wind was lighter and the water was flatter while further offshore the wind was heavier as was the sea state. Either way, to add to the excitement there was a strong current flowing down the coast against the fleet. This was especially noticeable around Cape Patton as several boats found to their cost.
The challenge was to balance all these factors out which some boats managed very well and some less so. In the end, Jason Close's new yacht Patriot managed the balance better than others to walk away with all the major prizes (IRC, AMS & PHS). Daniel Edward's White Noise also did well snaring 2nd in the same categories. Third places were shared between Extasea (IRC, PHS) and Alien (AMS). Extasea also grabbed line honours. The Double Handed division was taken out by Halycon and Multi-Hull Line honours went to Peccadillo. Congratulations to these boats.
There were a few casualties along the way. Cavallo had an early exit due to power issues and "something bad up front". Sagred lost their furler which was needed to tack due to there rig set up. Jinot lost a spreader in their rig but saved the mast and motored into Apollo Bay. Commiserations to these.
Some radios left a bit to be desired with Under Capricorn leading the way. Fallback arrangements worked well with some yachts submitting position reports via SMS to the race director's phone. However, your VHF radio is an essential communication device during ocean races and to have so many go on the blink is not good. This will be an area of focus next time around.
Another area we have to get right is the passage through the Heads, outbound and inbound.
The Heads is a high traffic area through a narrow, dangerous stretch of water and there is no getting away from this. Large ships and yachts share this stretch of water and pass in relatively close proximity to each other.
All this traffic is overseen by VTS at Point Lonsdale and in Melbourne. They know what the ships are doing and, for the safety of all, they need to know what the yachts are doing and thinking at the same time. There are rules and conventions to ensure we don't interfere with each other and we need to make sure we follow them. Remember, yachts will always end up second best if there is a collision.
We have mostly got race starts sorted with the exclusion zone agreed with the harbourmaster keeping us clear of shipping until well outside. There is still room for error as was demonstrated by a yacht sailing under the bow of a ship near the pilot pick up area shortly after the race start. Yachts must keep an active watch and take early action to not only avoid but keep well clear of them.
Yachts returning can also cause VTS to become anxious. They have ships transiting the Heads and there you are. You might be well outside the channels but they don't know what you are going to do next. Do you know about the ship coming? What channel are you going to use etc. etc.
When transiting the Heads, it is good practice to call Lonsdale Light VTS on VHF 12 and let them know who you are, your expected time of arrival at the Heads, what channel you plan to use and to request information on any expected traffic. Then monitor VHF 12 until you are through and past Shortland Bluff.
Once again, well done to all competitors and congratulations to all podium finishers ( pictures shown below).
PECADILLO WHITE NOISE