WILD WINDS: Action on the water at Ballina with the Richmond River Sailing and Rowing Club.
WILD WINDS: Action on the water at Ballina with the Richmond River Sailing and Rowing Club. Jane Morgan

Physical demand on the water

THE Richmond River Sailing and Rowing Club raced well up river near the trawler harbour at the weekend.

With a fast outgoing tide and gusty northerlies, some challenging conditions tested the mettle and bodily fitness of the sailors.

Challenging all with this breeze was the propensity for it to change direction by up to 20 degrees in a split second, while simultaneously building to gusts of more than 20 knots before dropping to about 10 knots.

This becomes physically demanding for crew who are leaning out over the edges of their boats to keep them flat, then being forced to suddenly dive inboard to keep their boats upright if the wind suddenly dropped or swung more head on.

One of the main reasons for this fluctuation in breeze direction and strength on this section of the river is the increasing number of large buildings appearing on the northern shore.

The club has lodged submissions with the Ballina Shire Council requesting a stop to these large developments as a continuation may prevent future racing on this stretch of the river.

There were close tussles in the gennaker division, with Vince Selleck and Duncan Dey in their RS100s being separated by four seconds across the line.

Both were upstaged, however, by Gary Scott and Bill Heuchmer in the final results in this personal handicap race.

There was a cracking race up front in the gennakers, with Formula 15 crew Baz Bradford and Anna Hugenholtz crossing the line one second in front of Mike Wiley and Liam Channer.

Suffolk Park's Dave Scott in his radial rig laser prevailed in the monohull division after racing neck and neck with Col Hinwood in his Impulse and Graham Hodgins in his NS14.

Up front in the monohull division Mark Pierce and Julie Ferguson in their 59er Fling swapped the lead with Trent and Daisy Morgan in their NS14 Graeme Garden for three of the four triangles which made up the course.

That was until Fling got tangled on the downwind buoy on the third triangle.

Graeme Garden, named to honour the improbable occurrence that every one of the four other NS14s in the fleet has a Graeme or Graham in the crew, went on to cross the line first.