Report on 2019 IOM Nationals event hosted at Henley Midmar Yacht club on Midmar dam.
The weather forecast was bleak, especially after a devastating tornado near Howick just days before the event. On our arrival on Friday 15 November 2019, the weather was still foul.
Fortunately, the weather was mild on Saturday morning and 18 sailors entered for the event. A long start line was set and the bridge decided not to split the fleet. The course was a triangle, sausage and beat to the finish.
Sailing got underway at 10:30 in mild breezes. Shifting winds and gusts made for tricky sailing conditions. Initially, a 3 minute cut off was imposed after the leading boat finished and a number of boats were unable to finish in time. The cut off was increased to 5 minutes and later abandoned due to weather conditions.
Max and Chris Petzold represented WYAC. After a few races, Max discovered that his rudder was not responding properly due to servo flutter. In attempting repairs, the rudder arm was damaged and he had to retire. Chris struggled to set up the A-rig mainsail as it was luffing all the time into wind. Several other sailors attempted to help but to no avail. As the wind picked up, the boat could not point and became difficult to tack. After lunch, the wind picked up beyond 10 Knots with 13-15 knot gusts. After changing to B-rig, the boat immediately found better form and became more competitive.
In all, 17 races were sailed on Saturday.
Sunday weather was same as left over from Saturday and almost everyone opted for B-Rigs. The wind dropped and everyone scrambled to change to A-Rigs. Chris changed to A-rig but it did not work. After changing back to B-rig again he could compete against the A-rigs into wind but lost out on the runs. Fortunately, the winds never dropped below 8 knots which allowed us to complete race number 30 well before the cut off time.
Prize giving was held during a rain shower and then we began our long drive home in misty and wet conditions.
Sailors were evenly divided between the Natal and Johannesburg sailors with us from Witbank and one sailor from Cape Town. No other entries from other parts of the country arrived. Norrie Taylor beat Des Fairbank and John Jorgenson who had to be satisfied with Silver and Bronze medals.
Although the results were a bit disappointing for the WYAC sailors, the experience was invaluable. Lesson learnt is to prepare the boat well beforehand and practice, practice, practice. Initially, Chris found it to be a nervous experience at the start and first mark. The only way to become more competitive was to mix in and not without a tangle which did not do his ego well. Sailing at Midmar is more difficult as the marks are further out than we are used to. One should ensure your eyesight is perfect or get decent prescription glasses when sailing at those distances.
It also takes time to get used to the protests, arguments and chirps from several sailors who are much more serious in gaining advantages through technicalities than sailing experience. It was a pleasure to see someone as friendly, non-complaining or non-protesting as Norrie Taylor, who quietly just out sailed the fleet.
Without sponsorship, the event was less glamourous than the inaugural DF95 national’s event, but it was just as much fun and pleasant to be around the top IOM sailors around the country.
This is not an easy event for novices, but if you want invaluable experience and up your game, it is a necessity to participate and learn. Fortunately, there are other novices as well to compete against, so you are never out of sight from the fleet.
Let’s get a bigger WYAC contingency next year. It is well worth the effort.
PS: Below is the report from John Jorgenson (Chairman of SARSA)
The IOM Nationals held at Midmar Dam this weekend is over. It was a great event.
19 skippers entered, but Peter Simons could not make the start and withdrew from the regatta. The remaining 18 skippers allowed a One Fleet - all in Scoring system which allowed the ever professional OOD Dave Rushton to get 30 races scored ( the Maximum allowed in the SI ) which meant we finished about an hour earlier than scheduled on the Sunday, which allowed our visitors to hit the road home a bit earlier.
A special mention must also go to Beverley Steenkamp who graciously volunteered to be on the Bridge to assist Dave with the scoring and transfers to the actual A-Fleet Scoring App. Beverly also did all the registration and correlated the Lunch orders and all the finances involved in that. A Huge job and a HUGE thank you for all your efforts.
Friday’s registration period saw most skippers pitch and register and unfortunately the wind was blowing onshore and very strong such that the clubs rescue boat could not be used if required. So there were no Tune-up sailing, except Des Fairbank and Michael Coldbeck took to the water on B suit for a short while.
Saturday started with the wind settled in early from the dam wall and for most races gave competitors an exciting mix of tactical wind shifts and a few light patches, much to some skipper's frustration. As the day progressed the light patches disappeared and it was ideal sailing conditions.
Des Fairbank was on fire in the session before lunch with 6 bullets out of 8 races! Then the wind strengthened and although still A suit the results began to be mixed.
Many of the visiting skippers who made the trip from Gauteng seemed to do better in the lighter conditions but battled in the stronger stuff.
Many skippers had radio problems, gear failure and as always, especially at a Nationals, one cannot afford to have these problems. Most were probably maintenance issues.
Paula from the HMYC club Kitchen made lunches to order and later after sailing many of the skippers partook of the Dinner that she had laid on. Thanks to all who attended Thanks must also go to Mike Coldbeck who opened the bar and allowed us to wet our whistle. Mike also managed to sail quite well at times despite the calls of his business commitments. Thank you.
The weather predictions for Sunday did not look good but from early on the wind was strong B suit from the Dam wall and remained steady and consistent throughout the day.
These were really Midmar conditions at its best.
Sunday belonged almost entirely to Norrie Taylor who was totally in the zone and in most of the races was a comfortable winner. His fall on the Saturday must have shook up something and although Andre Steenkamp, also had a fall on the jetty on the Sunday, he did not have the extra time for his Mo Jo to kick in.
Congratulations must go to Norrie Taylor on a well deserves 1st place with second been tied on points between Des Fairbank and John Jorgensen and the tiebreaker based on the most 1st places gave Des a well-deserved 2nd.
Once again to all the skippers who took part - Well Done ! I hope you enjoyed sailing in a bigger fleet than we are used to. It certainly made for some tense starts with an often biased line. I think some tips were also gained regarding the rigging and the ABSOLUTE importance of having a well set up boat that will not break, that can sail hands off.
2019 IOM Nationals entries
All the boats in picture on day 2 with A-rig and B-rigs evenly matched into wind.
Top dog sailor with Coach (Wife) and supporters (ha ha)