The Three Ships KZN Masters Regatta

isc mastersby Bruce Edward

Well, the Natal Laser Masters has now well and truly “morphed” into the Three Ships KZN Masters. It is still for the old bullets (35+) who want to have fun sailing, but it now includes cats (primarily Halcats and H14’s) as well as Lasers.

Run in the Durban harbour by Island Sailing Club over the 17th and 18th May, this year’s KZN Masters saw the usual informal fun for which the Regatta is known. We were unable to generate even one Protest but there were one or two drinks bought between friends…

Saturday dawned grey, soon revealing a busy fleet of two-dozen boats on the Island lawn and beach, the pilots rigging, greeting old friends, and asking one another about the breeze , which had been forecast as cloudy with “Plenty Knots” wind from the SW. However, at the Briefing, ISC Commodore Tim Wickham quickly put all minds at rest by saying that the buster had passed over the night before, and to expect only about 8 – 10 knots today. At least one happy skipper took off his wetsuit and ventured forth in his T-shirt. He had forgotten that the weather gods, Greek, Roman and the local variety, have a great sense of humour.

Racing was split into four classes/starts, namely Lasers, Halcats, Hobie 14’s and Open. Well, Race One started in a fresh breeze of 15Kts which had hearts soaring, arms pumping and hulls boiling the water in pure joy. A fair race, with skippers Richard Bate (Laser), Steve Hegerstrom (Halcat), Peter Hall (H14) and Justin Butler (Open H16) taking the four Firsts.

And then…just before Race Two…the Wind Gods decided to have fun and crank it up a bit. The wind produced the stonker that Tim had told us was gone far away yesterday! A minute from the start, one intrepid T-shirted skipper decided to do a masterful Paper Tiger flying display for the assembled company. Not so much an aerobatic as an anaerobic display. He started with four or so 360-degree vertical rolls, a pitchpole, three near-drownings, and some wharf-hugging. Thereafter he ignored most of the efforts of the rescue boat and moved some nautical miles downwind, near the sugar terminal, to perform the most delightful rudderless Rumba-come-Rock-‘n-deathRoll at about 30 knots.  The demonstration included how to gain 14 assorted cuts and bruises, including a most elegant fall onto the sharp under-bow, one foot each side, leading with the lower pelvis. This is a manoeuvre called a “split-ass” with yodelling accompaniment, very worthy of YouTube. All this while holing one hull, liberating one centreboard, and removing one transom. He claimed afterwards that he had not heard all of the applause because he had been under water at the time, still yodelling and contemplating how to free up various limbs caught up in ropes and rigging (he later, on achieving the more aerobic above-tramp position, released his mainsheet).

After lunch on the sand-banks, during which the dervishes did not let up, some gusts exceeding 30 knots, Race Three was converted into a fun “Let’s Get Home and Survive” race back to ISC. This was won by Greg de Beyer (H14 Grandmaster), it is suspected because he was the skipper keenest to stay alive (or win the bottle of Scotch).

No-one is really sure how Laser Richard Bate managed to injure his back by falling on his mast; we all thought they were designed not to be fallen upon. But it had the dreadful effect of putting paid to Richard’s regatta after only two races. Sorry about that Richard, come right soon sir.

Evening activities commenced with Dr Anne Leppan taking care of one or two walking wounded but otherwise things were in typical ISC style: the braai, the whisky-tasting (courtesy of our main sponsor – thank you Steve H and Three Ships), the bonfire, and the fireside music by our one-and-only Bart Fokkens continuing until only a slightly non-respectable hour. The company was wonderful according to most participants…

The next day, Sunday, it appeared that the Greek god Aeolus and his local mates had had their fun, as the racing began with a lovely SW breeze of about 5 knots, building to 8/G10, which enabled Tim (how-come-he-gets-all-the-chicks) Wickham and his lovely bridge crew to get in another four windward/leeward races allowing for one discard. One rather keen Bridge-lady decided to hoot before the flag went down, but she said no, it was OK, as she was just practising with the hootie-thingie (yes, the blonde one). After all, what are a few seconds in the life of a Master? All in all the fleet had a first-class day’s racing, to complete a great regatta.

Mention must be made of the great work by the bridge, rescue and importantly, catering folks that once again showed that ISC is right up there. Well done to Tim, Pamie, Gail, Barbara (bridge), Paul, John, Koos and Harry (rescue), Anne, Joke´, Rob and company (Galley).

The overall results, using the Laser Masters Handicap system of Age Before Beauty, were:

Lasers (five boats): 1st Clive Whitburn (GM) (Gauteng), Joint 2nd Ant Arbuthnot (M) and Patricia Kilburn (lady);

Halcats (10 boats): 1st Steve Hegerstrom (M), 2nd Rob Samways (M), 3rd Charles Ackermann (Appie);

Hobie 14’s (six boats): 1st Greg de Beyer (GM), 2nd Sean Fennessy (M), 3rd Richard Gourlay (M);

Open (three boats): 1st Justin Von Niebel (M) + Dean (H16), 2nd Bruce Edward (GGM)(Paper Tiger);

Fun race Saturday: Greg de Beyer (H14)

We noted that the hot competition for the Upside Down Trophy was won by the pinkly-inimitable Coert Grobbelaar (Halcat) for his elegant tally of four rescues in one race. Next year maybe an HTH bottle on top of the mast, Coert?

Next time we will send more reminders for more Lasers to join us; we want those fleets of 30 + Lasers back again!!