Lake Macquarie sailing, NSW

February 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Writing and Life | 4 Comments
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We find a lovely grassy spot on a hill overlooking the lake so we can watch the action, and park our folding chairs. We have come to see our Careel Association boats sail in their National Championships, but we discover at least two, and possibly three other clubs involved in their own races. The area of Lake Macquarie we can see is dotted with sails.

From a distance, the little Sabots are like white butterflies with wings folded walking on water. Our 18- and 22-foot Careels look almost clumsy by comparison, a bit like moths – though they do sail beautifully. Larger sailing boats and a few motor cruisers make their way grandly through the other racers, avoiding the delicate butterflies and the heavier moths. Small speedboats slash an occasional streak of white, cutting the lake into slices.

Then, streaking through the flotillas like a low-flying dragonfly or a scurrying water strider, comes a mini-hydrofoil under sail. Riding high on two thin legs, it zips past, back and forth, leaving everything else, even the fastest speedboat, in its hardly-discernible wake.

There has been a good breeze in the late morning, but it increases further as the afternoon wears on. The boats monitoring the race buoys dip and bob in the swell, bows to the wind, anchor chains straining – rather unsettling to sensitive stomachs.

Our lake looks a little different when viewed from the heights rather than from the shore or on our boat. We take in the white-streaked sky and hazy distances; the grey, wind-chopped waves, silver-glistening, ever-moving, studded by small whitecaps.

A boarder bends his back to his paddle, a tiny figure almost lost among the sailing boats. Occasionally, wind at his back, he manages to catch a swell and rides if for a few seconds.

A large catamaran, kevlar sails pushing it along at a good clip, is the first of the large boats’ racer to finish; the slower boats trickle in behind. The Careel 22s in our races deploy their colourful spinnakers on the downwind leg, while the slower Careel 18s goose-wing their way behind.

A speedboat trailing a water-ski-er races by, defying both the elements and the flotillas. A late arriving, screaming jet ski barges in but does not stay, preferring to move to quieter waters farther round the lake.

As the sun westers, the lake changes colour from a deep grey-blue to surging, rippling, gleaming platinum. The last race is over and it is time to pack up our seats and head home to change for the race dinner at the club. There, no doubt, successes and near misses and the joys of sailing will be the main topics of conversation.

 

Have you been in a sailing boat? Do you have water and water sports near you?  Would you like to live near a body of water or a river?

© Linda Visman

written on 29th February 2012

(The races were on 25-26th Feb)

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