winds challenge crews at Midmar and cause havoc

2008-09-04 00:00

The yachting season at HMYC at Midmar started with a bang on Sunday when a strong northwesterly faced the small keen fleet for the opening cruise and the first all-in race for the Azalea Cup.

This was a run-on boat handicap. The fleet were mostly Hunters, but Rob and Andrew Tarboton sailed their 29er Skiff and Jenny Kilshaw and George Muller sailed their Soling. Also in the fleet was Robin McIntosh’s newly acquired Micro Sail Le Etoile.

The blustering wind presented a big challenge as huge gusts threw unwary crews into some big broaches amid great excitement.

The course — set by challenging commodore Tony Cockerill — was around the fixed marker buoys in the main bay at Midmar. It presented some exhilarating reaches and finally a very long tough beat back to the finish in front of the HMYC clubhouse.

The Tarbotons relished the conditions and, in their speedy skiff, disappeared into the distance to take line honours. The Hunters had a good scrap all the way with Mark Patrick and Andy Arbuckle crossing the line second, followed by Peter Metcalf and crew in the Hunter Mistress, and Geoff Scallan and crew in Flirt.

It was a tough opening for the season but it was enjoyed by all the competitors.

This Sunday sees the start of the HMYC Class Championship Series for Hunters and the HMYC Monthly Mug Series for all other classes. These events will be held on the first Sunday of each month and the series consists of eight monthly races.

On Saturday afternoon, Maritzburg Radio Yacht Club attempted to hold their R36 Shipmate class League race.

The first race was about to be started when, without warning, the northerly whipped into a full gale in seconds. Three of the five yachts came to shore safely, but two headed out into Midmar and, because of the strength of the wind, neither craft could tack or jibe.

Robin McIntosh set off in pursuit in a small tender but could not reach Neil Young’s yacht, which filled up and sank.

He reached Graham Keir’s yacht and caught it just before it sank as well. In rescuing this yacht, the rigging caught under the tender’s prop, causing the motor to stall. McIntosh was able to get the damaged yacht aboard the tender, which was nearly swamped, and finally returned safely to shore.

Another R36 Shipmate League Race will be held on Saturday at HMYC at Midmar starting at 2 pm.

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