ABOVE AND BELOW: Action from the Richmond River Rowing and Sailing Club's annual regatta.
ABOVE AND BELOW: Action from the Richmond River Rowing and Sailing Club's annual regatta. Daisy Morgan

Survival skills on show at regatta

AN ARRAY of visiting sailors from other clubs competed with members from the Richmond River Sailing and Rowing Club in its annual regatta on the weekend.

The event was also a celebration of the 15th anniversary of the building of the clubhouse, located next to the Ballina Memorial swimming pool.

The regatta went over two days, the first being the Ivan Bathgate Memorial race which is from the club, heading upriver to near Wardell, or Pimlico Island depending on division, and back.

Unfortunately for sailors' trying to exhibit finesse and subtle skills the wind strength exceeded the already strong predictions, turning the races into 'survival sailing' - meaning sailing to be able to just complete the race.

Despite the inherent difficulties many sailors were rewarded with some of the fastest speeds their boats are capable of. Watching the Trailer Sailors start informed the rest of the fleet that the wind was strong.

Even without spinnakers on the downwind start, the blustery Northerly propelled the small yachts at full speed.

Unbeknownst to the club before the regatta, as part of the Ballina Country musical events, a flood of yellow rubber ducks were released from a boat off Fawcett Park for their own race at the same time as the Trailer Sailors.

It was a very surreal sight to witness yachts sailing right through these ducks when they reached that section of river.

The monohull division didn't encounter the ducks when it was their time to start but amazingly stayed together in a clump, despite supposed speed advantages in differing divisions all the way past Burns Point Ferry.

At times Trent and Daisy Morgan in their NS14 'Graeme Garden' experienced water coming over their bow as they hurtled at top speed downwind overtaking the two foot of chop which had formed on one long stretch approaching Pimlico Island. They reached the turning mark first but the return into wind did not favour them and ultimately Kate Yeomans from Tweed River Sailing Club took the division in her Laser with a 4.7 rig. Jonathan Horsley and Martine Borrack in NACRA 5.8 '2Footextra' sailed well to return home first in the catamaran division but Col Woodbry took the day, revelling in the heavier air.

There were many capsizes in the gennaker division, especially RS100s, but Zac Heuchmer and Clare Southwell displayed excellent heavy air sailing in their lone Formula 15 - Magic Formula to win the race comfortably.