Sunshine Coat’s Club Kawana Radio Controlled Yachts are hosting this weekend a record fleet competing in the ninth annual International One Metre Class Eddie Cowell Regatta on Lake Kawana.
Chair of the organising committee, Gary McMahon, is still trying to work out why they have so many entries, not that he is complaining. “I think it’s because we run such a good event and it’s a great venue,” he said. The entry list is up to 42, two more than competed in this year’s national championship. The most the club has previously had is 30 and last year it was only 20.
“We have a number of people coming from West Australia and about five from New Zealand.” The legendary Eddie Cowell will be competing for the first time. He is in a wheelchair, but can still sail his boat very competitively.
McMahon says the competition will be hot. Craig Smith, previous IOM class world champion and 12th in this year’s world championship will be in the mix along with previous national champion Paul Jones and New Zealand IOM champion, Rob Nelson. “This is a ranking event for Australia. To be able to sail in the next world titles you have achieve a certain rank.”
The IOM class are the smallest of the radio controlled yachts at one-metre in length with a 420mm fixed keel and a removable mast that comes in three sizes. A boat is controlled using a 2.4GHhz radio control unit. The class is recognised by the International Sailing Federation and holds an annual world championship.
Many of the radio controlled yacht competitors come from a sailing background. Their level of skill may vary, but their dedication to the racing is unwavering. It’s fascinating to watch the sailors, with their control unit slung around their necks, standing on the lake shore often listing to port or starboard on the windward legs as they try to control the little boats.
The Lake Kawana course may prove tricky for the visiting sailors. Two sides are ringed by large buildings which twist the southerly and northerly winds. “It will be interesting to see if local knowledge will be an advantage,” McMahon said.
Five-time Kawana club champion Geoff Morris is also hesitant to talk up local advantage. “It really boils down to how well the individuals sail their boat. The best sailor is still going to win it,” Morris said.
He has been watching the weather forecast each day of the last week, anxiously hoping the fleet get a 10 to 12 knot south, south-east breeze. “That would probably be as good a direction as we can get. If it’s a true south-easterly the buildings don’t strongly affect the course. If it goes into the south they will come into play,” he added.
Racing in the ten race series starts at 9.30am each day. Spectators can easily enjoy the view of the racing on Lake Kawana at the southern end near the Kawana Aquatic Centre. “Unlike yachts, the one metres will be racing in a close pack so it will be very exciting,” McMahon added.