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Palm Beach Sailing Club’s ‘Bullets Regatta 2023’

With the lasting memories of the past two Bullets Regattas being 35 degree temperatures and howling westerlies, it was with a sense of relief when the forecast stabilised during the week. What could be considered perfect conditions on Pittwater, Palm Beach Sailing Club’s Commodore Dick Clarke made the bold statement claiming the weekend’s racetrack as “the worlds most beautiful waterway.”

Saturday was epic wind wise, with the actual wind strength exceeding the forecast considerably. Gusts were peaking at 25 knots near the top mark, where the wind accelerated over the low-lying Palm Beach sand dunes. Many capsizes and rescues were conducted across all fleets by the third race, with the PRO Dave Fisher making the respectable call to pack it in for the day.

The Saturday night fleet dinner at Club Palm Beach was a great chance for sailors to recount their stories of glory from the days racing. Some standouts being Bridget’s red-hot mark bottom mark rounding, along with Hayley’s adventure to the leeward side and Noah’s jaunt through the mainsail.

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Day One On Shore - Trevor Day One On Shore - Regina Day One On Water - George Day One On Water - Tracy

With Saturday’s beating and the forecast for Sunday’s nor’easter coming in harder, stronger and earlier, races were underway by 10:30am. In an ominous northerly shifting between N and NE lead to a short first heat, the breeze quickly settled into the predicted sea-breeze and steadily but quickly grew in strength over the next 3 races to around 18 knots. Let the photos do the talking on the brilliant sunshine, flat water and a beautiful location.

In the Hobie 14s Rod and Mick tussled for the lead with Darren open splitting the two however Rod prevailed. In the Hobie 16s Anthony & Evelyn won with a perfect scorecard. In the H18s John & Bronte didn’t have it all their own way but managed to prevail over James & Emily. In the F16/F18 fleet Luke & Megan narrowly won in the largest fleet of the regatta.

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Day Two On Water - George Day Two On Water (1) - Tracy Day Two On Water (2) - Tracy Presentation - Regina

With all this talk of results and familiar and deserving names at the front of the fleets its easy to forget the real winners and what makes a regatta like this so special. We had the largest family and kid contingent as a % of the fleet for as long as we can remember.

For example:

  • Ian Marcovitch and daughter Jani.
  • Andrew Williams and son Lachy.
  • David Tallis and daughter Emma coming 3rd in their first ever catamaran race!
  • Steve Brewin and daughter Isabella sailing in her first regatta.
  • Mark Webb and daughter Emma were the only H18s to do all 7 races.
  • Peter Skewes and son Bailey steadily ramping up their training for the Worrall 1000.
  • Noah Skewes and Hayley Fisher who for the first time finished all races on the Sunday in significant wind without capsizing.
  • Adam and Marja Beattie with their 6 year old son Zane sailing 3-up.
  • Brother and sister James and Emily Henderson who took two races off John and Bronte fair and square.
  • John and Bronte Forbes who have been instrumental in growing family participation at this regatta.
  • Rod, Bridget and Kerry Waterhouse all on their Hobie 14s at some point.
  • Megan Fisher sailing with Luke Ratcliff winning her first F16 regatta after a 5 knot training session the week before.
  • Rose Cookson sailing with Scott Kesteven to their best ever result, thriving in the strong conditions. Anthony Abbott and son Lewis astounding all with Lewis’s helming skills.
  • Murray Makin and daughter Danielle back in Murrays home waters.
  • Tom Fripp sailing with Jon Hoile improving every race.

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An impressive list!

Impressiveness only surpassed by Upu. When us mere mortals break a tiller extension, we head back to the beach to raid sail-boxes, usually missing the next race; however, Not Upu. The man, the myth, the bonafide legend sails to a remote beach of Ku-ring-gai  National Park, finds some driftwood and in the one concession to the modern world substitutes jute or hemp for a modern alternative, lashes it together and gets back to the start line as the one minute flag is lowered ready to go!

Dave Fisher & John Forbes