Maylands Yacht Club is located almost 5 kilometres upriver from Perth city, and some 24 kilometres upriver from Fremantle Harbour. It is Perth’s most easterly yacht club and, on occasions in summer, might not see the cooling Fremantle Doctor (south westerly seabreeze) force back the prevailing summer easterlies.
Sunday 29th November was not one of those days – when 21 Sabres enjoyed the sprawling lawns and easy flat launching into the still waters of the Swan River. Our first hosting of the Sabre State Titles Heats, it was a rather wintry-like grey and overcast day with a gusty seabreeze from the south/south west and only 22 degrees that greeted the sailors just before Heat one. Fortunately the wind settled down soon after the start.
Our club is still subject to the rise and falling tides of Fremantle, usually up to one metre, being part of the greater Swan River estuarine system. Parts of the shoreline are heavily treed, and some tall buildings such as St John of God Hospital (the old St Annes Hospital), do create eddys and wind sheers to test out the unwary sailor. In addition, the tide eddys and flows around a large bend in the river at a wide lake-like main section where we race. A number of our visitors had sailed with us previously and knew what to expect – and where NOT to sail, particularly upwind where one side of the shoreline should be avoided – I think they all know
now where that area is located. And we all faced the same challenge of squeezing around the windward mark (Bunbury Bridge, a mark that we have dated back as far as 1905 when an earlier East Perth Yacht Club used to exist close by). The wind generally backs to give a starboard lift at that mark, but it is fluky – whereas coming in to the mark on port tack can usually provide a more reliable breeze sweeping under Windan Bridge – if you can avoid the starboard tack boats filing in. Add to the mix a quite strong current at that narrow point, and it can be a daunting rounding! After that, the downwind square run can also lead to boats passing you to leeward – again, if you have sailed too high into calmer waters.
I had the pleasure of picking up one of those starboard lifts very early on the first leg upwind in Heat One. I had a bad start, so port tacked half way across river immediately after, until I felt a strong header to swing across on starboard to gladly see the windward mark way off ahead in line with my forestay. The leaders were working their way up the leeward shore (as they normally should, but
was just lucky enough to hold that lift and drop in close behind Scot Olsen three quarters of the way up that leg. I could Scott keeping his boat dead flat and as lifts came in from starboard, he was almost imperceptibly lifting the boat’s nose slowly higher with minimum rudder movement and maintaining maximum speed. Very smooth indeed! It was an unusual feeling for me to glance back over my shoulder to see most of the fleet behind us! That feeling did not last long as Tony Carr in Zero Tolerance and Andy Rose in Lost Horizon were further to windward of both of us with Bill Gillham not far behind them in Avenger. I held on to that starboard tack too long, copped a bigger header coming into Bunbury Bridge mark on port and found myself in the second group of three chasing Sabres behind these four leaders. Those four boats had a great tussle all race and I was pleased to scrap it out with The Rooster (Carl Girolamo), Aero (Richard Martin) and Fly In Fly Out (Lane Bauer) for the next four places after the leading group.
Tony Carr (Zero Tolerance) had a well-deserved win in Heat one with Scott Olsen close behind. I was very happy with a sixth place in Heat one – my best ever in a State or National series in Perth where Scott Olsen of Fremantle Sailing Club and a cache of Perth Dinghy Club sailors have traditionally taken out all top 10 places!
My memories of this race are clouded by a disappointing start where I was sitting behind the front group again! NOTE TO SELF – A bit more aggression to take on the front line next time …….
The wind was dropping the further this race went as a good front had passed through the course area just before Heat one. We enjoy flat water sailing at all times at Maylands – the only waves to speak of coming from passing power boats! This leads to close racing on our tight courses and this race was no exception. Scott Olsen and Tony Carr again took out first and second places – this time the order was reversed and Scott prevailed. It was great to see ‘the two Martins’ – Richard and Ray (not related I believe) fill third and fourth spots respectively. Ray has sailed for MYC in the past in both Lasers and Sabres and knows our waters very well. He is always up there in light winds.
Maylands Yacht Club was proud to host the first two WA State Titles heats and we look forward to travelling down river to the wider waters of Matilda Bay and the Perth Dinghy Sailing Club for the next heats in the New Year – even if it means sailing in their short and sharp choppy waters! Just kidding – but we do like our flat water sailing at Maylands!
(Footnote – For those in New South Wales it is similar to sailing at Connells Point Sailing Club versus sailing at Georges River Sailing Club in a black nor’easter!)
Sabre Sailing Association would also like to thank our sponsor – Boating Hardware
By Chris Holyday
2023 Fuse MYC
All photos courtesy of MYC Laser sailor and support boat helper – David Ponton – thanks David!