By Vicki Groves RGYC OTB Committee Chair

What a spectacle! Saturday 22nd June the annual Senior Dinghy Race took place out in the icy depths of Corio Bay. Featuring a catalogue of current and former A-list sailors all trying to re-live their youth, cramped into a floating bathtub. The competition was strong with many out there trying to win against their long-term friends and former rivals. This was combined with a ‘Red Fleet’ of cadet parents (new to the game but still old in age), trying their best to have a go. The youngsters make it look so easy and effortless – so how hard can it be?

The raffle of cadet boats at the OTB presentation night, and the auction at the Keelboat presentation created an electrifying lead up to race day. The weather (although bitterly cold) was kind, with perfect wind levels to cater for all ranks.

Throughout the race, there were impressive moves, apparently one performed by myself when I tacked across my own daughter’s boat Ocean Warrior, skippered by Blake, to force them off their course and get ahead of them in the race – albeit for a few seconds. I’d like to take credit for this wickedly clever tactic, except that I was totally clueless about doing it!

GP, sailing with Will Farnell on Assassin, obviously missed the memo that the Solstice Swim was in the morning and decided to go for a dip in a thrilling capsize. To his credit Will remained unperturbed and his game face gave nothing away. Or perhaps his face was frozen motionless from having a second dip after participating in the Solstice Swim.

A few families decided to brave the icy waters together: James & Adela and Phil & Jack.This is a challenge like no other: cramped imprisonment with your teen/pre-teen offspring in a tiny floating vessel – what could go wrong? However both teams survived and completed the race respectably – as a parent, my hat goes off to you.

Well done to Tom sinking Sparkle around the course with Charlie as the heavy weight champions. Tom still remains a bridesmaid – the elusive trophy continuing to be out of reach. Cadet coach Tony Bull obviously didn’t follow his own instructions on how to sail a race with winning form. Without enough wind in his sails, Equilibrium just missed out on a podium finish. There were some last-minute jockey changes, including the legendary Jake Newman sailing Ringo, together with the even more famed Josh Garner. The pressure on this pair proved too much to take out the gold or silver. So, second loser of the day it was for Ringo taking the bronze.

At the front of the pack, the racing was mighty! Favorites Clare with crew Will Garner, and Tim with crew Grace, created a suspenseful showdown.  Alternating the #1 spot several times during the race, it was clear early on that there was some hearty rivalry occurring. Clare was back to defend her title. Tim was sailing to conquer the bay and do Cheryl and Geoff proud. It was a stand off until the end. However, a late tack by Tim (probably wasn’t his best choice), and Clare’s skills and determination allowed Gray Hawk to cross the line ONE SECOND ahead.

After completing the race, I have so much appreciation for the sailors who do this every week! Dithering at the finish line and taking over 2 minutes to cross, nearly crashing into Goggo (spectator boats should really give more clearance around the marks for us newer sailors), and multiple near capsizes, I was spent.  But it was worth it – I had the greatest fun! I also had the pleasure of sailing with Lucy Stephens and I thank you for your infectious enthusiasm (and patience) both on and off the water!

Thank you Steve and the race management team on Eclipse – as always your race organization was engineered to near perfection. Those in the upper gallery (mark-laying and rescue boats) provided some opportune counsel and commentaries, all while laying the course like champions and being ready for a rescue if needed.

Keen to compete next year, the training will begin for me soon – perhaps when it warms up a little. Can Clare make it a trifecta? Is Tim feeling too scorned to try again? Will Tom bid on a boat with a tiny skipper next year so he has a chance at winning? Or will a dark horse come up from behind the to take out next years title?

Congratulations to Clare & Will sailing Gray Hawk

winning the 2024 Senior Dinghy Race!