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05 April, 2015
The 2008 Blackwood Challenge - Augusta, 26th/27th January
(Thanks to Joan Embry of DBYC for her penmanship)
These last four photos were taken by Karl of the Busselton/Dunsborough Times and may be purchased from him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Australia Day weekend of 26th Ė 28th January saw the Augusta Yacht Club, on the southernmost tip of South Western Australia and 320km from Perth, hosting boats from Dunsborough and Perth along with local AYC boats for the 3rd Annual Blackwood Challenge, a series of races held on the Blackwood River over two days for GP14 sailing dinghies.
Augusta produced their usual gusty, windy conditions, which added to the tricky obstacles of shallow water, narrow waterways, crab pots and the usual holiday power boat challenges. There were two short races held on Saturday with wild winds causing a number of dunkings for the crews and many boats planing round the course, some out of control, testing the crews' skills. Among the sailors were two juniors (aged 8) who were able to hold their heads up high as they crewed for their respective Dads in difficult weather. As usual for this event, the competition was fierce with good natured rivalry between the three clubs.
The local boat Patara (AYC) skippered by Dennis Meagher leapt away to a good lead in the first race and proved to be the winner, with Cocktail Cherry (MBSC) and Ragged Edge (DBYC) taking minor placings. This was after the drama of a watery gybe round the wing mark by Cocktail Cherry (the first of three dunkings for previous winner Louis Proksch over the weekend!)
La Rousse (MBSC) who withdrew from the first race with a launching mishap, then proceeded to carve up the opposition in the second race, with a gutsy decision to fly their spinnaker on the second leg to overhaul Cocktail Cherry (MBSC) with a spectacular gybe round the wing mark, and put everyone in their place! Skipper Bruce Quail's crew is Steve Heywood of "Sligo World Championships" fame - so throwing the spinnaker up in those conditions came as second nature to him!
The Sunday morning produced moderated slightly easier conditions for the long race with 8 boats competing but then the strong "sea breeze" off the Southern Ocean came in and so the final two races reverted back to the short courses. La Rousse maintained itís lead over Patara, Cocktail Cherry and Ragged Edge all day and is now considering patenting the triple-gybe-with-spinnaker manoeuvre performed at full speed around the infamous wing mark! Other memorable moments were Salt Peter (DBYC) performing a slow motion roll-over with his crew Marissa Wagner wailing that she was going to get her hair wet and WhizzBang (DBYC) at the back of the fleet, holding their own little private race with a pod of dolphins!
The excellent AYC facilities got a thorough workout during the weekend with competitors and visitors taking full advantage of the BBQs and entertainment areas. An hilarious protest was lodged by the DBYC which came in the form of a song, contrived and conducted by Joan Embry, and the payment of two cartons, one of bottled sea water and one of beach sand from Dunsborough (the only things they had better than Augusta!) which was followed by some "fun" awards. A rubber duck was presented to Louis Proksch, the skipper of Cocktail Cherry, for his winning score of three capsizes for the weekend and a bucket was presented as the "Submariners trophy" to Brent Ettridge, the skipper of Niord (AYC), for making it back to shore almost totally submerged, after losing their baler and their dignity in a capsize!
The Blackwood Challenge trophy went to La Rousse from Mounts Bay Sailing Club in Perth skippered by Bruce Quail/Steve Heywood with 50 points, second was Patara from the Augusta Yacht Club skippered by Denis Meagher/Ion Lindsay/Molly Clements on 45 points and Cocktail Cherry skippered by Louis Proksch/Steve Dickinson from Mounts Bay Sailing Club was third with 41 points. Special juniorís awards were made to Morgan Flowers and Ric Wagner for their great efforts.