Day three was biblical. There are RIB drivers who have been working in Riva for 30+ years who say they have never seen anything like it.
A Ponale wind (straight down the mountain) came out of nowhere accompanied by forked lightening and hail stones the size of golf balls. Those who were nearest to the line of wind didn’t have time to drop sails, but those who have been to Garda before knew to get in the water, capsized or turtled if possible.
The Ponale wind doesn’t last long but behind it came the strong Northerly wind (Peler) making the slow sail back in extremely difficult. It’s interesting how people cope with things like this.
All respect to the Australian boats who sailed into the lee of the cliff right next to a café and, once assured that there would be no more racing(!), sent one of their team swimming to shore to get the dark and storms.
Nick Jones and his team moored themselves to a mark in the centre of the lake to sit it out. On return Twinkie said once they were settled down, her Dad and Steve decided they were hungry and had their lunch in 50+ knots. ‘It’s the strangest picnic I’ve ever had. Awesome, my brother will be so jealous!’
Once we were all in and starting to tell our tales over a reviving beer, the third storm (70+kts) came in. Southerly this time – the Ora. Epic.
Unbelievably, apart from some cuts and bruises and a few tattered sails, there were no injuries or damage. Respect to the seamanship and courage of the sailors, and respect for the boats. Those of us who were there will never forget this day.
After two days of abandoned races it was good for the fleet to get out and blow the cob webs away. The past two days have been somewhat crazy with epic storms and wind, there will be many a tail for many years as teams recall how the drama unfolded when the 50 knot storm crossed the fleet. All was well with only a few damaged sails – with some boats even making it to the windward shore for a beer at the café while they waited for it to pass.
So finally, the fleet got away with a stiff but somewhat cool breeze from the south kicking in. Neil Fulcher with Oliver and Harry led the charge followed by Dave Hall with Bryan and Graham. They had a tussle all the way round until the final drop when Neils team just caught the spinnaker in the water allowing Dave to slip through. The second race in an increasing wind saw Daves team lead the way followed by team Nick Jones. This stayed the same until the final drop when Team Jones spinnaker went trawling allowing team Trueman through to second.
One more day left and we will see what Garda has to throw at us for the final day.
by Dave Hall and Heather Chipperfield