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79 Bay St
Double Bay, NSW, 2028

The finest Laser sailing club in the world, located in Double Bay on Sydney Harbour.


Big Boat Race Report

Jonathan Stone

It was a sparkling autumn afternoon, sunny and bright. The sea breeze came in about 12.30pm and was well established by the time we started; it then blew 10 -15 knots all afternoon.

The start was uneven - not the skippers’ fault, or the PRO; more about that later. 

Chenonceau took off like a startled rabbit and out-sailed the fleet all afternoon. On the clubhouse deck, after the race, her skipper denied any new sails or measures taken, except moving the blocks for the headsail sheets - I forget which way. But she outran the fleet, without a spinnaker. Behind her, G-Force started late but started fast; she was in third place as we reached the Point Piper mark, and on the way to Taylors Bay - a very close reach - she went low under T&T, into second.

Corinna (which is Aboriginal for Tasmanian tiger) started late and (for her) slow; she was in fourth position at Point Piper and still there at Taylors Bay; but she surged on the long, upwind leg to Sow’n Pigs, turning second. Chris then hoisted her kite and set off after Chenonceau, who was so well ahead that her skipper settled for a goose-winged run, leaving her spinnaker below decks.

Smitten too was late off the line; she loyally chased the fleet, but her speed of the last couple of races was missing. 

On T&T, our start was middling but - Chenonceau aside - we seemed to be competing well for a leg or two. But we lost our rhythm on the leg to the reef and turned downwind in 4th place, very disappointing. So we flew our big yellow-and-black spinnaker for the chase to Shark Island. The set was a bit rusty but uneventful and the little boat ran well until we hit some heavy traffic off Neilsen Park. The 18 footers had just started the last race of their Giltinan series - their world championship; everything was up for grabs apparently, and the fleets crossed, the Double Bay boats all on port tack and running, with no rights at all. Spectator boats added to bedlam and a separate fleet of Tasars out of Rose Bay. Mat steered us through some close encounters as David and I trimmed and eased the spinnaker sheets, to keep the kite engaged as the wind shifted our little hull heaved and dropped through the chop.

To get home we all had to gybe at the Shark Island mark. This was a real challenge for Chris on Corinna, who was sailing solo, and by the time his spinnaker had reset, G-Force had slipped through into second, and T&T was closing under spinnaker. But once Chris’ spinnaker was set he would yield no further ground, and and we crossed the line:

  • Chenonceau
  • G-Force
  • Corinna
  • Time & Tide
  • Smitten

n T&T we dropped the spinnaker and headsail and sailed to the mooring under the mainsail. Unrigging was uneventful, except that the tender boat from the Marina was unwilling to go anywhere near the ferry wharf. A police boat was drawn in at the wharf, a crowd of young party go-ers on the wharf. Was it a drug sweep? or over-boisterous behaviour? It turned out to be the latter, with excited and emotional young men jumping in the water around the wharf. Visiting Americans, someone said. Not serious stuff, except that the water around the wharf is used by NSW ferries coming and going and 18-footer tender boats and camera boats and eventually the 18 footers themselves. Any of them could have run over a stupid swimmer.

So we had to wait nearly half an hour for a ride to shore on a Club RIB (thank you John, again); and were still there waiting when hoots and sirens from the Harbour signalled the end of the 18-footer series. The first two places went to NZ boats apparently; was this the first win by overseas boats? The series has been going 80 years now.

For the DBSC fleet it was a fun race and quite demanding - very Sydney Harbour, with the sea breeze, the sun and the 18s and some 12-foot skiffs and Tasars and ….. and ……

We race again the Sunday after Easter, Sunday 8 April.