The “apprentice”

The NSW Tasar State Championships finished up on Easter Sunday at the Illawarra Yacht Club. Dad and I managed to finish in fifth after a not so brilliant first day, a blinder of a second day, and then some rough luck on the last day. The most important thing was that Team Chukkel only improved as the regatta went on, or as Rob Douglass would say, the “apprentice” (apparently that is what he is calling me now) was learning!  Funnily enough, we got more used to each other and our jobs in reversed roles as the regatta went on, and we are both able to get our heads out of the boat again by day two. You can read about day one here.
We sailed three races on Saturday, following a postponement when a sou’easterly change came through. The breeze eased all day, with the first race in about eighteen knots, and the final race in twelve to fifteen knots.
In race four (the first on Saturday), the boat felt very sluggish off the start line. I thought I just wasn’t steering well. After coming around the top mark, we were somewhat relieved to find a massive chunk of weed on the centre-board, when it ended up on my rudder. This race was only a two lapper windward-leeward, so we didn’t have much time to catch up. We did the best we could, having a cracker of a second work, and finished in eleventh.
What an awesome day that was! At the end of day two, there were two lady helms in the top three, and I was one of them! We jumped from ninth overall on the first day to third overall, which was an indication of the improvement.
On the final day, we were pumped and ready to just keep improving and try to hold our position. The breeze was flicking from the Nor’east to the Nor’west frequently, which made for some very very tricky conditions.
We had a number of general recalls in the first race, and we nailed every single start. We nailed the actual start as well, and sailed the first beat well to be in the top ten around the first top mark. Just a short windward-leeward, twice around the top, meant that the first lap was critical. Due to the weather there were options to make large gains, which we did down the first run, rounding in fifth. We completed a great rounding and as the mainsheet came on we heard a massive bang and a white thing hit me in the chest… that is never a good sign. When I had a chance to look forward, the mast was off the step and on the deck. The mast washer was what hit me in the chest as the mast step had sheared off. Devastated, all we could focus on was stopping the mast going through the deck – easing the vang and the mainsheet, Dad (with me repeatedly saying “Don’t hurt your shoulder”) lifted the whole rig back up onto the plate. We managed to strap it down with the vang and mainsheet hard on and by some complete miracle got back to shore without tacking. Must have been big gains up the left hand side that work! Thanks to some great helpers on shore – we managed to do the impossible. Change the mast step and re-rig, and do the fifteen minute sail back out to the course to just make the start for the next race. I thought I would have at least a DNF and a DNS to deal with for sure. The top three may have been out of contention, but at least we could still try to salvage my goal of top five.
We nailed the next two starts as well, but the tricky course meant that it was not all as clear cut as a great start. We rounded the top mark in the teens in race eight, and got up to third at one point – but only managed to hold onto tenth for the finish. There was a massive right hand shift on the last work, the biggest of the weekend. Some went from top three back to late teens, so it wasn’t all so bad! The final race was even trickier, with those that gybed too early on the run going completely out the back door. Luckily we weren’t one of them – and we again gained a lot of ground on the runs moving from teens to within the top ten once again. We finished with a ninth.
This meant that the scores for Team Chukkel were 4, [18], 7, 11, 1, 3, [DNF], 10, 9. This was enough to sneak back into the top five, and also to be the first boat from NSW/ACT. Apparently Dad and I are now old enough to win the Master division as well… and here I was chasing the Lady helm trophy all regatta!
Congratulations to the Victorians who dominated the top four, and to the others who were in the top ten. The racing was so so tight it was only fifty metres at times between top five and teens. It would have been interesting to see what Rob and I could have achieved had we not dropped a rig. We were already so close to fourth, we would have had fourth I think. A pretty top effort for the first regatta in this combination… and also let’s be honest there were a lot of good NSW usuals missing, such as Quirky, the Kruse’s, Shane Guanaria… and of course Rob Douglass on the stick. No doubt NSW will be ready to claim back their titles next year! Let’s face it, a South Australian won the Vic States!
A big thanks to Rob Douglass for sailing with his “apprentice”, who is very much enjoying her steep learning curve! A massive thanks to Andrea Douglass for all her help on-shore, and to the rest of my supporters also. If I am the “apprentice” Rob Douglass is now the “master” crew.
Full results are available at
There were a few sail-world articles over the regatta also: Lead up Day 1 Day 2 Final results
Monday I headed out to watch the final day of the NS14 State Championships at Georges River. It was a long slog for all of the competitors. By my watch, the last boat went around the bottom mark at the two-and-a-half hour mark. Intense! I would much rather a program of getting nine races done in three days than six races in four… but then that is just me! Maybe I might be able to mention this at the next committee meeting, apparently now I am on publicity duties for the NS14 as well as the Tasar. Well done to Peter V & Tina, Hugh & Tara and Rohan & Sophie for taking the top three positions over a massive fleet of seventy-four boats.
I am not sure what is up next, but I will keep you posted. The 470 will hopefully be in Sydney by the end of the month. And not a moment too soon, I am missing my afternoon sails during the week like crazy!
I hope everyone had a very happy Easter and got in at least a little sailing!

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