The first round of the 2018/19 NSW Mirror States were held at Woollahra Sailing Club. There were 18 entries across the weekend as teams looked to both compete for the various trophies on offer as well as gain all important local knowledge of the venue for the World Championships to be held in January 2019.
Saturday morning saw a number of last minute adjustments by teams with two new boats hitting the water for the first time (“It floats!” exclaimed Joe after launching the new Little Ripper) as well as existing boats sporting new masts and sails. The Branch family also joined in as proud owners of two plastic boats. They are ex Heron sailors that have started sailing Mirrors at Connells Point this season in preparation for joining the Worlds.
Like the last round of the States last season at Woollahra, the wind was blowing SW/S/SE at 15-20 knots with gusts into the low 20s and big wind shifts.
The first of two races got underway cleanly with tight racing up the first work. A group of boats rounded the top mark led by Douglas and Spencer in Waterborne at Last. Douglas elected to head to the right downwind seeking shelter from the incoming tide while the next boats, McMissile, Wave Catcher and Mad Cat gybed and headed left. As the wind veered into the SW, the left paid off and McMissile led around the bottom mark closely followed by Wave Catcher, Mad Cat and Waterborne at Last.
The next beat saw close racing through the fleet with multiple position changes and close crosses. At the top mark for the second time, McMissile led narrowly from Wave Catcher followed by Waterborne at Last and Mad Cat. Not far behind the leading group were Stan and Zoe in Eeezy Life and Jon and Phoebe in Barnacle Blues.
Wave Catcher lived up to its name and surfed a wave inside McMissile at the last gybe mark gaining the overlap. After a somewhat hairy gybe in a big gust, Wave Catcher raced home with spray flying to take the win from McMissile. Waterborne at Last, Mad Cat and Eeezy Life rounded out the top 5.
The second race got anyway minus a few casualties of the conditions in race 1. Again the racing was very tight up the first work apart from McMissile who picked the first shift brilliantly and crossed the fleet comfortably. McMissile built on this lead and was never headed despite breaking the vang, jib cleats and jib downhaul. Racing was close in the chasing pack with Mad Catrounding the bottom mark followed by Wave Catcher, Waterborne at Last and Girra Girra. Both Mad Cat and Wave Catcher dropped their spinnakers over the front of the boat in the high pressure mark rounding. Mad Cat recovered first and went on to consolidate second place. Wave Catcher and Waterborne at Last crossed tacks a number of times up the final work with Waterborne at Last rounding the top mark slightly ahead of Wave Catcher. However by the gybe mark this had reversed with Wave Catcher once again living up to its name and taking the inside position at the mark. Wave Catcher powered away to capture 3rd while Waterborne at Last struggled with a spinnaker sheet wrapped around the end of the boom after the gybe.
The teams headed back to shore after the second race to a well-earned hot shower and rest.
In contrast to the blustery first day, the second day saw E/SE winds at 8-10 knots with very big shifts. After some delays while the course was re-arranged to counter the changing wind direction racing got underway (a few seconds early for McMissile who was over the line early at the pin end and had to restart). Up the first work the left was looking promising early on with the breeze in the east and Wave Catcher, Mad Cat and Eeezy Life leading the charge, however half the fleet led by Waterborne at Last headed right and while looking in trouble early on came out way ahead as the breeze shifted right a long way. Waterborne at Last led around the first mark and was never seen again.
The chasing pack of Mad Cat, Girra Girra and Lolliehead battled closely on the downwind leg followed by Wave Catcher. Wave Catcher went deep inside the leading pack sailing by the lee and by the bottom mark was able to secure the inside mark rounding position in a very tight rounding between 4 or 5 boats. The next leg saw some snakes and ladders as the wind shifted back and forth before the downwind dash to the finish which saw Wave Catcher take second followed by Mad Cat, Girra Girra and Lolliehead.
The second race of the day started cleanly in similar conditions with Waterborne at Last again hitting the right side first but appearing to initially over stand the top mark. Wave Catchertacked inside on the lay line and looked to be in a good position but Waterborne at Last pulled one out of the hat and sailed into a puff just as Wave Catcher sailed into a hole with a big knock. Waterborne at Last at last again rounded first and was never seen again for the second time that day.
The battle for the minor placings raged on between Wave Catcher, Ezy Life, Mad Cat and Girra Girra. Eeezy Life led the pack around the top mark for the last time but Wave Catcher was able to secure the inside mark rounding at the bottom mark for the short dash to the finish leaving Eeezy Life to take 3rd following very closely by Girra Girra and Mad Cat.
The fleet then faced the rather long sail back to the club house to wrap up the day but were treated to the 18 foot skiffs rounding their top mark in Rose Bay which provided quite the spectacle.
The States were closely contested right through the fleet and bodes well for the Australian fleet to show the World how to sail Mirrors in January 2019.