Otters in Tasmania for Christmas

»«Thursday 31st January 2013

Sandy Bay, Hobart, Tasmania 28th December to 4th January

Five Otters, together with their respective families & guardians, travelled to the other side of the world to compete in the International Cadet World Championships at Sandy Bay, Hobart, over the Christmas period.

Most took the opportunity to see some of Australia with the Andersons visiting Sydney & the Gold coast & the Barrs visiting Sydney before descending on the Island State for the Sailing.

From the moment we arrived at Sandy Bay Sailing Club, the Hospitality we were shown laid the foundation for a thoroughly enjoyable trip. The club, on the west shore of the River Derwent, has a beach frontage and a very family oriented ethos which meant we were in for a fine time.

The majority of the British team were in situ for Christmas and the Commodore kindly lent us the keys to the club so we could all have a traditional Australian Christmas of Prawns on the Barbie and a game of cricket on the beach.

The next few days were spent training and acclimatising to the conditions ready for the main event. Sunday 30th December saw the British team measuring and the excellent system set up by Sandy Bay meant that all sails, foils, spars and hulls were measured & weighed in little over an hour.

When the Championships were sited at Sandy Bay we were advised that the prevailing winds were South Easterly between 15 – 20 kts. This however was not the case for these Championships. The conditions we experienced were amongst the most difficult both the writer and many other much more experienced sailors that were there have ever seen. Over the course of the championships it was not uncommon for winds of five knots in one directions increased to 25 – 30 knots in a different direction within five minutes. The variation in conditions was borne out by the fact that in the Australian Championships (run the week before the worlds) some 32 starts produced only eight completed races!

There was the added excitement in the days before the with the Sydney – Hobart Race sailing past the club!

The first race of the Championships laid the template for the event with only the first six boats completing the last beat of the race, tacking whilst a 180 degree shift saw everyone else finish with spinnakers flying.

So it was that playing the percentages was the way to go and no one better than the two Ukrainian teams who were able to contend with the sometimes extreme conditions (winds often in excess of 25 kts) and spot the huge shifts (often in excess of 45 degrees) better than anyone else. The Champion's two discards of 7th & 5th being a testament to his consistency – Oleksandr Izarov was a worthy winner and his tiny crew Andriy Kalinchuk's solo rendition of the Ukrainian National Anthem will be remembered by all who were there.

The first British boat was 9000 White Stuff Alex Corby & crew Robert Kean from Fishers Green SC who finished in a worthy 3rd overall.

The Otters, whilst disappointed by their finishing position, none the less made very good account of themselves, with creditable performances throughout. Nick and Scarlett finished 15th (best result 5th in Race Three) Sam & Ben 29th (best result 17th in Races Seven & Nine) and Joe & his helm Jess D’Arcy from Frensham Pond were 38th(best result 26th in Race Four).

All in all it was a wonderful and educational experience both in terms of their sailing and social development. It was a trip that none of us will ever forget. The only disappointment is that distance & cost mean we are unlikely to repeat the experience for some considerable time!

Matt Barr