More photos in the Gallery.
This was the second time I've been in the Marlay Point Overnight Race, sailing through the night from Marlay Point on Lake Wellington in Victoria's Gippsland Lakes to Paynesville.
This year I was sailing with Marg, Ross and Marty Goddard on the Noelex 25 'Special Edition'. One could easily say the 2010 race had not much wind. In 2011 we had even less.
Sailing in the Marlay Point Overnight Race on Lake Wellington
Moonlight over 'Special Edition' and the fleet on Lake Wellington
The race started at 8pm with the sea breeze already fading as feared. We were slow across the line but otherwise seemed to make the most of the wind on our tacks across the vast Lake Wellington to Plover Point. The wind died around midnight before we got there but we eventually drifted into Mclennans Strait around 1am.
Moonset over the fleet on Lake Wellington
For a few hours the current took us slowly on (drifting and spinning around with next to no control over the boats direction), but after Ross and I had been relieved at 3:30am for some sleep, the current started to reverse and we woke up three or four hours later barely any further than we were before. Morning came, but the wind didn't. Finally at 11am, ten hours after we entered the strait, we 'sailed' past Holland's Landing against the current and out into Lake Victoria.
Drifting along Mclennans Strait
For the rest of the morning and afternoon we battled fluky winds, generally having to tack our way up the length of Lake Victoria, long after most sensible people had given up and motored past us to Paynesville. You can see the excitement of 21 hours of drifting in our faces:
Light winds heading to Paynesville
We had a few minutes of exciting sailing, leaning out the sides and reaching 8 knots boat speed on one occasion. But we were never going to finish by the official end time of 3pm. A striking example of 'cloud iridiscence' amused us a for a few minutes but as the last 200 metres into the finish line at Paynesville took half an hour the effect didn't last long.
Cloud Iridescence on Sunday afternoon
We finally limped over the line more than 21 hours after we started, proud to have made it but feeling more than a little tired and perhaps a tad foolish for our stubborn persistence. Two hours later, just as we finished our showers, a stronger than forecast south-westerly change arrived, blowing a wild 30 knots and horizontal rain through the Paynesville channel. We got soaked just trying to get pizza - talk about adding insult to injury! We had wished all day for some wind, any wind, but were probably still glad not to be out in that squall!
Thanks to the organisers at the Lake Wellington Yacht Club and everybody else who helps make it happen safely - great job, and we know you can't do anything about the weather! The crazy thing is I'll probably do it again.
More photos in the Gallery.