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Moonlight’s first sailing race took place at the Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club (NYRC). The inaugural Noosa Gaff Rig Regatta 2019 had a small fleet, ranging from a 23 ft. Pilot Cutter, to Moonlight, a 12ft Gunterrigged clinker or lap strake dinghy. This was the first race for Moonlight and her crew who were normally accustomed to leisurely cruising.

After a week of wet and windy weather, race day delivered blue skies and light winds. We launched at around 9 am, rigged the boat at Tewantin on the Noosa Estuary, and motored downstream to the banks of the river.

A small fleet of Gaff boats from 12 to 23 ft in length were being rigged by their enthusiastic owners to the rhythmic thump of several bands entertaining the public at the Noosa Festival.

We were the smallest boat in the fleet, with one of the least experienced crew as far as racing goes. Our 11 am race briefing eased some of my concerns, and a little mud map scratched out on the back of my race notes gave me a pretty good idea of the layout of the course.

My concern was not about finding ourselves leading the charge and not knowing where to go; rather, I wondered if we would be in-touch with the rest of the fleet so we could follow their lead.

After the first leg, the circuit had a dogleg between two buoys that created a figure-8 effect. Several tacks seaward gave us plenty of time to observe the others in the race weaving back and forth. By the time we rounded the mark the first time, the rest of the fleet were rapidly disappearing out of sight on the homeward leg. We ponderously navigated the figure-8 section and headed downwind with the current to the finish line, as the others were manoeuvring for the start of the second race.

Our good starting form meant that I was able to capture some nice footage of the fleet as they passed us early in the first tack, which was the last time we had any meaningful contact with the fleet. This time, the wind failed against the increasing tidal flow and we retired half way through the first leg of the race, so as to make it back to the starting line in plenty of time for the 3rd race in the series of three.

A heads-up from a committee member had us positioned pretty well at the start as the five of us crossed the starting line for the third and final time.

Things went a lot better for us this time around, finishing fourth in the fleet, ahead of Dory, which was, with a very young lad at the helm, putting up a valiant fight against our 45 years of sailing experience.

It was a great day on the water, made even more satisfying when we were awarded a bottle of Bundaberg Rum for coming 5th overall out of a fleet of five!

The 2021 Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club’s next Gaff Rig regatta is set for Sunday, 6 June. Join the fun with great camaraderie, interesting prizes, and perfect sailing conditions in warm Noosa waters.

Entries are for yachts with Gaff, Gunter, or similar rigs, and can be constructed of any material new or old. The NYRC can arrange launching, mooring, accommodation, crew, and anything else if required.

For more info, contact Valere on 0434879861, or Phil on 0418343107


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