Aaron now ‘King of the North’
Updated: Jun 20
Two Gladstone Radio Controlled Yacht Club members, Laurie Donohoe and Aaron Farrar headed up the coast for the 2015 North Queensland International One Meter Titles being held in Mackay at Lake Grande, a great new ‘weedless’ freshwater venue for sailing in Mackay.
The conditions for the sailing venue were ideal with a 20 to 30 knot south easterly blowing over the lake allowing a swell to build at times with some white caps foaming of the top. The lack of trees and buildings allowed an uninterrupted breeze across the lake for the two days of the event but even though there was a lack of trees and shade the two GRCYC members that travelled were well prepared with marquees thanks to a tip off from Phil. Most on the 16 boat fleet stayed in B-rig the whole weekend, with a few even venturing to C-rig for some races, not an A-rig was sighted.
The ideal set up was for ‘speed’ more than ‘point’ to allow the boat to surge through the rough patches, this played with your mind at times as we are always tempted to want to point as high as possible. Some boats that took the hight over speed approach could be seen with the dreaded hobby horse effect or rounding up in the gusts.
The control area was from a built up hill which gave a great elevated view of the course. The PRO Ian Ash set a challenging long windward/return course which made the downwind legs nerve racking as skippers watched dark grey ‘scuds’ descending on their craft. As you could imaging the conditions played havoc with some of the boats that may not been as well prepared as they should have… or were just unlucky, with failing electrics on a couple due to water ingress and busted shrouds and even busted rudders from the pressure of the gusting winds. With A and B Fleets for most of Saturday, after some retirements saw the one fleet for the rest of the event, a course change on Sunday midday saw the last few races run over the triangle sausage course which was a good break from the windward return.
The sailing was close for the most part with Aaron extending his local dominance and mixing it at the pointy end of A Fleet in most races. Local Mackay legend, Col Cameron was super impressed with the balance and set up of Aaron’s Pikanto and even though mixing it regularly, he admitted he was simply in the zone. Laurie, sailing ‘The Whittler’ had some really good boat speed and when he was on he was hard to stay with or catch once in front. As is always present at these regattas (and more so in the strong conditions), many calls were made for buoy and boat contacts which were not always agree with… but in the spirit of the event, most just did their penalties and moved on. The good sportsmanship from all sailors was on show and even though there were a few heated moments when small disagreements lingered a little longer than they should have… usually ‘yachting karma’ would work it’s magic.
With his overall setup, unflappable demeanour and skilful sailing consistency Aaron ended up taking out the event with Doug Allen in his Fraktal 2 a close second. Laurie battled consistency on the Saturday to finish the day in 7th but found his rhythm for the most part on Sunday to better that position to finish the regatta in 6th.