Just returned. Wow, what a weekend!
For those not in the know, the race starts off Marlay Point at the western-most end of Lake Wellington and heads east across the lake east, then south through the fish-hook shaped McLennan Strait then east again across Lake Victoria to Paynesville. Distance for the slower boats (us!) directly into Paynesville was approx 29nm - but the faster boats had to do a lap of Raymond Island to finish the end (another few miles).
The race started at 7:45 pm on Saturday night and we headed east into the darkness in a steady 10kt breeze slowly increasing as we got closer to the eastern shore. We were about 20 seconds late for the start and narrowly avoided a bingle at the start where a cat got mixed up with a few monohulls to the accompaniment of tearing fibreglass and raised voices..
It was apparently one of the fastest races on record, with the majority of the fleet (including us) finishing in the dark. It's quite something to be +5kts in an 18ft TS in the dark under spinnaker with only beacons on nearby headlands to guide you!
Line Honours overall (not too surprisingly) went to a Grainger 10 multi called "APC Mad Max" which hit the start fairly flying and reached Paynesville in a little over 2.5 hours. Remembering that this is not a straight-line sprint - that's an average speed of nearly 15 knots!
Picture this: You're sitting around the campfire on the southern bank of the narrow winding channel called McLellan Strait chatting with your fishing mates and hoping to see some of the Marlay Point Race boats come past in a few hours or so. It's a cloudy night with a 3/4 moon peeping through but you can easily see the other shore - it's only 50 yards away. Totally without warning, a dark-red 30ft catamaran with carbon black mast and sails comes silently tearing up the middle of the channel going way faster than the 5kt speed limit and followed by an enormous rooster tail off the back of it's rudder. In seconds it's gone again into the night and all is still once more, except for the mad rocking of the stinkpots lining the shore. The only reasonable expression from the occupants would be "What the F#@* was that!!".
We finished 14th in Division 'A' - not a bad effort, I thought, for my first night race with 140 starters.
Some photos of the event can be found here
. I'm sorry there isn't more: It was too dark and I was too busy!