The Hobie Polarized Sand and Sea Festival 27-28 Oct 2018.
This new event is a multi sport / community event. It looks very professional with many event tents and many beach / outdoor companies exhibiting in an event village. $7000 prize money was advertised. This event has huge potential to become Australia’s premier windsurfing event maybe even overtaking the Ledge to Lancilin as the main event here Downunder. There are a lot of things to get right before that kind of status. Following is my experience and my suggestions to make the event world class.
On Saturday I joined 7 other windsurfers and between 20 and 30 kiters for the 14km Downwinder in Jervis Bay.
Driving to the regatta I took a call from my team mate Max Gaubert to say the start time has been moved forward. Lucky I left Sydney at 8am as there was still time to make the start as Max picked up my timing chip. That saved me about one hour in driving to Huskinson rego tent and the back to the start beach. Normally we have a Notice of Race and then Sailing Instructions. Changes to the Sailing Instructions happen the night before and posted on an official notice board.
We were all consulted on the beach beforehand regarding the race run and we all agreed on the race rules so we all must take some responsibility in what was essentially was a complete mess of a race and start.
The new start time was to be 1pm with 1 minute warning. In hindsight this was not enough warning. Usually there is a warning signal and then the start sequence of 5, 4, 1 and go. Watches are sold with this and so you have chances to sync as least two times. Flags are used with sound signal. The International rules of Sailing have been perfected over decades.
We had a Rabbit start with a first mark further out. This mark was a bit upwind so we decided to not use it as some guys felt it would be a little difficult make the mark and so we decide to sail straight to the beach after crossing the start line. This decision made the start nonsensical in hindsight. The rabbit boats purpose is to get the sailors evenly and fairly onto the course but the rabbit drove upwind directly away from the finish. So if you waited upwind for the rabbit you would have lost time and further penalized with extra distance to sail.
There was some confusion about the first mark. Was it in or out of the course? I saw the committee go up towards it to fix the start situation by relocating the buoy and I thought stay with them to know what is going on. But I was wrong and I think now that this was probably the race starting. Some kiters came upwind to round the mark as well. It was still not clear what was happening because sailors where all over the place. Max was sitting on the beach. He asked the Race officer, “has the race started!” yes! Was the reply and big credit to Max for winning the race from that position. When I realized we where racing the sailors were dots on the horizon. I did a longer course in about 11 minutes 20 seconds if I read the GPS right which is a cracking speed. I had the Patrik F-Race 140 and Gunsails GSR 9.2m.
At the finish Max and I went around the final mark but probably not many others. But considering the start confusion who really cares now. Some leading guys had no way of knowing which was our timing mat on the beach out of the three finish gates! Yes this was a big event, many finishing gates! I saw guys run over the most southern mat so I was ok and sailed straight to it. The Kiters finished on the water. So racing the kites was never really going to work.
The kiters cannot do beach starts or run up the beach. The windsurfers should keep this spectacle. A beach start while not perfect (windward sailors get fresh breeze) would have been a fairer start.
Another thing to ask of the organiser to increase the number of officials, particularly for safety. Sailing back I came across two surf skis. A lady was staying with a elderly man who was having a lot of trouble getting back into his craft. We managed to divert a charter vessel to him.
When the race is fair and safe it will grow. So here is my list for competitors and the Event committee. This is my opinion other attendees may have more to add or a different view.
MAX GAUBERT Former World youth Slalom Champion and Green Island winner won both days - PATRIK GUNSAILS represent :-)
Max laying it down behind to reef