The Deanbilla Pursuit 2014

Thanks to Traditional Boats Qld. for use of this report.

The 2014 Deanbilla Pursuit report:
The Deanbilla Pursuit was first run in 2001, one of the local classic boat enthusiasts driving the event was Ivan Holm and the perpetual Trophy is a lighthouse built by Ivan and composed of up-cycled materials that came from Laurabada’s refit of 1999 to 2000. The highlights of this year’s event were the return to active sailing of Laurabada after her major refit that has seen her slipped for the last few years and the win by Wraith of Odin after holding back-marker status for every race. This year’s fleet was slightly smaller then recent ones as a number of our reliable starters were either interstate or overseas. Laurabada presented most impressively sailing in her refurbished glory.

Long time event supporter Skirmish was also resplendent in fresh paintwork and bright-work care of her new owners Tony and Lyn. The forecast for the day was for 15 to 20 Kn of northerly for a course that ran against the tide and was generally in a south, southeast direction. The forecasts included a thunderstorm warning. Tahua was first away at 1130 notably starting almost to the second. The gaff-rigged Sandpiper was due to start at midday but was delayed. In the course of adjusting halyards the tail of her gaffe throat halyard managed to find its way to the masthead. Her slightly rotund skipper (your author) unsuccessfully tried to scale the mast, a task made more difficult by the lanolin applied for the jaws of the gaff. Eventually Michael Holm a younger, taller and leaner sailor came to Sandpiper’s assistance. The appearance of two sailors essentially standing on top of each other on a gooseneck gave significant entertainment to the fleet.

Having re-established her rig Sandpiper started off a little late. The remainder of the fleet started over the next hour with Wraith of Odin back marker with an 85 minute handicap. The breeze was quieter than predicted and a 10 to 15Kn northerly saw the spinnaker carrying fleet sail quickly south. Tahua and Sandpiper that are not spinnaker equipped found the sailing angle less suitable. At the southern end of Peel Island Merry Mac and Skirmish were within a few boat lengths of each other with Wraith of Odin close behind. The first three boats led by Wraith of Odin finished within half a minute. Pagan was fourth and Laurabada fifth. Shortly after Laurabada’s finish a storm squall came through the trailing 2 small yachts. Sandpiper was approaching Goat Island from the West while the large car ferry was approaching from the East. Sandpiper had furled jibs in anticipation of the squall and when the 25 Kn lead breeze hit, her skipper felt happy to sail on. When the 45 Kn second breeze line arrived and it was clear that Sandpiper and the car ferry were approaching the confined waters South of Goat on a collision course Sandpiper dropped sail and retired.

Bringing up the fleet Tahua close to Horseshoe Bay and retired motoring into shelter. She joined the moored fleet after the squall passedThe sailing excitement was not quite complete as Laurabada lost her spinnaker pole overboard and requested Sandpipers assistants to recover the spa. Sandpiper’s manoeuvrability and low freeboard were to her advantage, being sailed solo was not. As Sandpiper manoeuvred to retrieve the spa it was evident the aluminum pole was taking water and sinking. A 20 foot boat approaching a bobbing waterlogged 15 foot spa was not straight forward. Having retrieve the spinnaker pole sandpiper motored into the anchorage and while Laurabada was anchoring Sandpiper offered her rightful salvage for sale to the moored yachts. No offers were received.

After a short recovery time the crews were ferried to shore aboard Sandpiper and the usual delightful social gathering and presentation was enjoyed. Wraith of Odin has competed in almost all the Deanbilla pursuit events but this was her first win. Last year’s winner Safona was unable to compete but did sail out from Manly to watch the fleet travelling south and give us all a wave. Our thanks to the honorary branch secretary for organizing the event and providing this year’s prizes. Thanks to Greg and Peter for the handicapping. A great day sailing with some challenging conditions was the general opinion of the fleet. Congratulations to all our entrants.

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