Melbourne Latitude Series
Slugs in the Channel.
At 04:15 there was renewed optimism aboard ORCV Mobile, as the wind built outside, even though the weather forecast was for extremely light conditions. It was short lived however, as the wind then died, just as quickly as it had sprung up!
This is ORCV Mobile - an ex Ambo and ORCV Rear Commodore, Simon Dryden.
Multiple, Neville ‘Nifty’ Rose alarms started sounding at 04:30, which builds the excitement inside ORCV Mobile even further for Gillian Kearns and Annie Schaefer, who are assisting him with race management. Then at 04:35, the Crew Changes radio sked was conducted.
The Pre-Race Sign On Sked started at 05:35, with extra reminders from the Sailing Instructions concerning keeping clear of commercial shipping in Port Phillip, particularly while transiting the Heads, together with the latest weather forecast, as issued by the BOM at 05:15. The fleet was sent to Latitude Set No.3.
All entrants confirmed they were starters, however, ‘Spirit of Freya’ could not initially be heard by Ocean Racing Mobile, as they were in the Queenscliff cut, thereby restricting the line of site to the ORCV Race Control van, which is positioned at Chapman’s Point, Arthur’s Seat.
Apparently it was nearly a unanimous (remember there is only three of them in there) decision that stress balls be purchased for ORCV Mobile, in order to be able to offer an alternative to the irritating pen clicking by the radio operator. Right Oh! Remember kids, it is only a small place inside there, best you all get along now!!!
Nifty initially delayed the start by 20 minutes based on information from Lonsdale VTS (who govern Port Phillip Heads) regarding shipping traffic. You see there was a ship coming in and with the very light breeze that was present, they wanted to ensure there were no yachts around the area, tacking through the various channels, as they made their way out the Heads. The navigable part of the Rip between the Heads is just 0.6nm wide, by the way.
'Empress Pheonix', is "The Slug", as seen on Lonsdale VTS Webcam, with Point Nepean on the other side.
The inbound ship was the ‘Empress Pheonix’, which was described to Lonsdale VTS by the Port Phillip Sea Pilot onboard as “…a bit of a Slug and that they would be clear as soon as they could” - a direct quote from the airwaves. Accordingly, the start was delayed by a further 10 minutes to 07:00, so as to allow the inbound ‘Slug’ to meander its way in. If a Phoenix is indeed a mythical fast flying firebird, then I think we have a case for ACCC of false advertising...
Thanks to the Port Phillip Sea Pilots and Lonsdale VTS for their invaluable assistance once again.
Refreshing the Lonsdale Web Cam every few minutes did not result in much movement of the yachts. Quelle surprise there! By 8am there was, in fact, more progress on the Arthurs Seat Road from the cycling race than there was from the fleet towards their turning latitudes in Bass Strait.
Image from Lonsdale VTS WebCam looking North West towards Shortland Bluff, Queenscliff and yachts racking up at the start line with less than 5 minutes to go before the 07:00 start.
More images from Lonsdale VTS WebCams of yachts existing Port Phillips Heads below :
Updated forecasts and weather observations around the race area were reviewed immediately prior to the 08:30 Routine radio sked. At the 08:35 Routine radio sked, some of the fleet reported being becalmed. Estimates from the fleet to reach their turning Latitude ranged from 11:45am to 11:45pm. Code Flag Sierra was “hoisted” over the radio by Race Director to Shorten Course from Latitude Set 3 to Latitude Set 2. Apparently two entrants receive “tone” from Race Director over their skeds.
Less than an hour later, having gone to the trouble of shortening the course, the breeze has now kicked in a little from the NE and the first of the fleet are looking to be back at the Heads around 11:30. Excellent, but around an hour too early (for slack water)!!! No problem though in these very mild conditions.
The first of the finishers are approaching the line off Portsea Pier as you read this at 11:45... stay tuned for the results.
By John Curnow