Sometimes the weather gods simply smile. Then sailing becomes a delight.
They smiled – in fact they beamed - upon a fleet of Seawind catamarans on Moreton Bay through the last weekend of November. Sunny skies with a light cloud cover and consistent winds of 15 up to 20 knots heralded blissful conditions with fine and competitive racing throughout Saturday and a pleasant cruise home after breakfast on Sunday.
The annual regatta attracted 12 boats including Seawind 1000s, 1000XLs, a cluster of 1160s and a flagship 1250 which proceeded to take line honours with ease skippered by veteran sailor and new convert to cats Bryan Lowndes.
In fact, Bryan and Sally bought 1250/01 in New Caledonia, spent a little over a month on board in Port Moselle and exploring the nearby islands before heading to its new home at Runaway Bay on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
They loved the signage on the boat so much they have decided to make just a small change. She will be called Seawing!
Half the fleet joined in an invitational race out of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron marina at Manly on Friday afternoon to hone their racing skills for the main events Saturday. The 1250, with Bryan, Sally and their guest, Seawind’s Brent Vaughan, arrived on the course as the fleet headed toward the outer mark and decided a little up-staging was in order. They joined the race and rounded the mark an easy 10 minutes ahead of everyone else.
A briefing and barbecue on the lawns of the Squadron on Friday evening was a chance for crews to mingle and refresh friendships – and rivalries. Innovation was an important topic of conversation and the crew aboard Seawind 1000 Sunbird proudly described their important addition; a bulky leather-look sofa facing aft in the cockpit.
In fact, Sunbird owner Tony Little says an important part of the regatta is discussing the innovations on a number of boats. “It gave us a chance to look at a number of flooring ideas and I am particularly impressed with the overlapping jibs on some of the boats,” he said.
Racing on Saturday began at 10.30-ish after threading a needle between a fleet of little Optimist dinghies and their little skippers that decided to practice tacking at the mouth of the marina. The course was a 7.5 nautical mile dogleg around two marks to a finish south-east near Peel island.
A near-perfect start by most skippers saw the fleet closely bunched, except for the 1250 which once again proved the speed gains from refinements, extra length and sail area that this flagship has over its smaller siblings. Not only did Seawing streak ahead of the main fleet, but her crew set off after the two boats in the cruising division that had more than a half-hour head start. Both were caught and overtaken about a mile from the finish.
The fleet then headed into Deanbilla Bay for a raft-up and lunch and a little relaxation before the strain of a reach south towards the evening destination at Canaipa Point. The skippers were so relaxed that nearly everyone missed the start but the fleet eventually sorted itself into the 1250 and 1160s in a hammer-and-tongs battle up front with the 1000s fighting out a close tussle.
While the bigger boats were becoming intimate up front, a contrast in styles was evident among the 1000s. While Steve Nichols on Simple Pleasures issued constant instructions to his crew – partner Jacqui mainly - to trim sails as the gusts came and went, on board Sunbird and its couch, the brightly-dressed ladies were taking it easy with champagne on the bow. The celebration was a little premature as Simple Pleasures led Sunbird over the line by a little more than a boat length.
The traditional spit roast under a marquee on the lawns of the yacht squadron’s Canaipa Point facility let the crews relax and mingle again as trophies and awards were handed out.
For the record, the overall handicap win went to Derrick Baan and crew on board his Seawind 1000 Balakera. Andrew and Ada Stevenson took second in their 1000XL and Robert and Andrew Mollah took their in their 1160 Trim.
Seawind Catamarans is Australia’s largest and most awarded sailing boat manufacturer, with 28 years of innovation and excellence in the field of performance cruising catamarans. The company was recently awarded the “Best Exporter of the Year” by the Australian Marine Export Group (AIMEX), and currently manufactures a range of high-end cruising yachts including the newly developed 41ft Seawind 1250, the multi award winning 38ft Seawind 1160, Australia’s most popular catamaran, the 35ft Seawind 1000XL, and the 35ft day charter Seawind 1050 Resort.