The 2019 Australian and Oceanic Laser National Titles were held in Devonport, Tasmania and were run by the Mercy Yacht Club. The Mercy Yacht Club is a very small club located on the banks of the Mercy River in an operating shipping port. Ships and The Spirit of Tasmania arrived each and every day during the regatta. Two sailors from RPAYC ventured to Devonport for the regatta, Dave Taylor (Standard Masters) and Bayley Taylor (Junior 4.7).
The race courses were located in Bass Strait off the Mercy Bluff Lighthouse. It was a 3 nautical mile sail or tow down the Mercy River to the river mouth plus another nautical mile out to the course area. The river was often shut down when there were shipping movements in the river. This meant we had to either wait on shore for the ship to move or get out quickly before the ship arrived. Coming in was the same and a couple of times we were held outside the river waiting for a ship to pass.
The series included six days of racing with no lay days and a 12 race series. Day 1 was light and a race was started but was eventually abandoned as both the standards and 4.7s timed out. Day 2 was aiming for 3 races to try and catch up lost time so we all hit the water at 10am. The wind was light again and we didn’t get a race started until 2pm. We finished the second race late and eventually got off the water at 8pm for a day being on the water for 10 hours.
The next day they aimed for 3 races again but with the 2pm start time. Racing was in windy conditions of 18-20 knots and the RO had us doing 3 lap courses. This resulted in another 8pm day on the water. Eventually the racing all caught back up to schedule and left the penultimate day as a two race day. On the final day the first race at 12pm was a light race in 8-10 knots and we all knew a strong NWer was forecast. We were hoping for two quick races and getting off the water before the strong winds arrived. Unfortunately this did not happen and the final race 12 of the series was started in 25knots which soon built to 30 knots on the first work. Bass Strait really came alive with large waves, breaking waves and full survival sailing conditions. Many boats capsized, a support rib was witnessed to go vertical off a wave and very nearly flip over backwards. Both Dave and Bayley managed to finish their race, but unfortunately Bayley timed out by a mere 3 minutes. A fantastic effort regardless in the survival conditions.
The Mercy Yacht Club ran a really good regatta and all safety plans were put into action on the final race and all sailors were accounted for at the end of the day and survived the notourious Bass Strait conditions.Bayley finished 26th in the Laser 4.7 fleet and Dave finished 38th in the Standard fleet and was against the Australian Sailing Team.