Gavin Homer and Ian Renilson were part of a 23-strong British team that headed out to do the first non-continental European Championships at Black Rock Yacht Club south of Melbourne Australia.
As seen in last months’ mainsheet Ian managed to get out training in most conditions in December while Gavin spent the time building snow men going to the panto and other family pre-Christmas events. The Renilsons headed out just before Christmas to visit family in Tasmania before heading up to Queensland to spend New Year with Former member Jason Beebe in Brisbane which at that point had not been affected by the floods.
Meanwhile Gavin headed out on the 2nd from Glasgow to get in to Melbourne aiming to be one of the first boats to get out on the water. Due to customs delays the containers turned up slightly later than expected and the majority of the European competitors had arrived to help unload them on the 5th and rig the boats whilst watching the Australian Sharpie class sailing in 20-25 knots of sea breeze, typical conditions for the venue but unfortunately it was the last of the weather for the next 7 days as the monsoon conditions further north affected the weather conditions.
Whilst Ian headed over Gavin was able to get 3 practise sessions over the next 2 days with the first sail in six weeks being in 6-7 knots and 30 C temperature which built in the afternoon to 15 knots southerly. Friday was hot with temperatures reaching 40C whilst the wind was a strong northerly which died mid afternoon allowing some more Europeans out to get practise. As Gavin was first to head out the club balcony filled with locals to watch how the Brits would cope heading out in 20knots onshore and a narrow fairway. No problems were the answer.
After a good sail it was time for the event briefing and an Aussie bbq. This we found out was to be kangaroo, Sausages burgers and steaks which could be washed down by the sponsors product Broo lager.
With the race officer warning the fleet that a front was going to come through the competitors headed home with the knowledge that it could be a tricky weekend for the preworlds as the winds could get up to 40 knots.
Saturday morning everybody was down bright and early to meet the AP flag due to 30 knots breeze and 40OC temperature it was like a fan oven. At approximately 14:00 the breeze dropped to 10knots before backing to the southwest and increasing to 25knots with a temperature decrease of 15 C all in the space of 15 minutes. The front had come through and as it increased up to 40 knots racing was cancelled and competitors reminded that it was a 9am start next day.
Day 2 and a 10-12 knot south westerly which built through the day allowed the fleet to get 4 races in. Ian’s training looked like it had paid dividends as he won the regatta with a 1, ocs,1,2 result against all the top competitors to win the pre-worlds whilst Gavin managed a 16th which with the pace of the fleet and having to go back in 1 start and Gavin was fairly pleased with.
That evening they had the pre worlds prize giving and also an ominous warning from the race officer that due to the weather forecast the first race was planned to start at 9am. Since the sharpies had 2pm starts for the previous week this was a bad omen for a long trying week for both the race management and competitors.
Tuesday 11 January: Day one of the world championships and after a long delay due to shifting winds 3 races in 8-12 knots were held. Along with a chop that made port tack tough, it was a trying day with both of us having a poor days results but looking forward to the forecast breeze on Wednesday.
Wednesday 12 January: After a short postponement the fleet the fleet headed out to what turned out to be the windiest race of the regatta. Ian was in the leading pack at the first mark and was able to finish third meanwhile after having a poor first beat Gavin had got back into the top ten before disaster struck as he was preparing to make my final gybe to the finish. Gavin pitch poled and during the pitch pole I dislocated my right shoulder ( to go along with the left that he had dislocated several times and had surgery on). The regatta was over for Gavin. After being take to hospital he was eventually given sedative so he was out whilst they reset it. Four hours later Gavin was discharged by a efficient medical team who have to deal with the incident fairly frequently due to the local kite surfers.
On returning to the club Gavin learned that it was the only race of the day due to various squalls coming through and making it difficult to start another race.
Thursday 13 January: A long day on the water for the sailors whilst Gavin spent the morning recovering from the sedative and painkillers Ian had a frustrating afternoon on the water with the wind shifting throughout the day although by race 7 he had got back into gear and got a second.
Following the racing the club hosted a seafood night which was going very well due to a large amount of sponsors product and a good range of seafood everything from oysters , calamari to deep fried fishtails. Unfortunately it all came to an abrupt end due to a power cut which for some was quite lucky while a few headed to the bars of St Kilda a popular bar and night club area approximately 10 km north.
Friday 14th January: Lay day. Whilst Ian and Jane were taking Gillian back to the airport and moving accommodation, the majority of foreign competitors took an organised bus tour to Healsville wild life sanctuary unfortunately the weather was near monsoon conditions so most of the animals were trying to hide out of the rain . This was followed by wine tasting at Domain Chandon (Moet and chandon’s Australian headquarters) and lunch. As the weather cleared up they were able to visit one more vineyard before being dropped off in central Melbourne to watch the 20/20 cricket.
Saturday 15th January: With the sun out the conditions looked promising but the wind did not settle until mid afternoon. Race 8 and Ian had found his boat speed and strategy to lead through the finish, only to touch the committee boat and have to return to the course-side and complete a penalty-turn, which dropped him to 3rd. Following another delay as the sea breeze swung Ian was unable to capitalize on the shifts and ended up 11th.
As racing finished and the sun was out the breeze swung to the south west and slowly built. The typical Melbourne weather had at last decided to come out to play. While the rest of the competitors relaxed on the club balcony Ian stayed out to let some Contender sailors he knew have a go of the boat and also to enjoy some sailing in the conditions we had expected to meet.
Sunday 16th January: Final days racing and with the outcome of the championship in the balance I decided to go out and watch the sailing so after another postponement we headed out to see the last 2 races. Race 10 and Ian was in the lead group ending up 5th although the race winner had the biggest lead of the event winning the race by over 2 minutes.
Race 11: Ian was individually recalled so ended up with an ocs but with various wind shifts and the short chop coming in he came off the water feeling he had a poor race. Following racing it was time to pack up.
Monday 17th. Home Time; With an early start to finish packing the container and an early a late night for several competitors it was a rather subdued group who packed up the container before either catching flights home to get pack to the realities of work or for a lucky few another week touring round Australia before heading home.
Overall results: Ian Renilson: 9th overall/ 1st Grand Master