Friday, February 8, 2008

Dark and Stormy Day 1 in Terrigal Laser Worlds

With clear skies and warm, humid temperatures near 80 degrees early in the morning down in the boatpark on the supposed opening day of racing at the 2008 Laser World Champinoships we knew one thing was going to happen: thunderstorms. We were postponed ashore waiting for the southerly to fill in front of a ‘cool change’ (as the label their cold fronts here). When the southerly did fill in to adequate levels we headed to the water with swells rising and a certain electricity in the air that apparently had nothing to do with the tensions between the 170 sailors. The fleet was only afloat for less than an hour.

As soon as we arrived on the course area about a mile due east of Broken Head and Terrigal Beach, the race committee began frantically waving us back to shore. Only putting up the AP flag (as opposed to AP over H, which is the standard for recommending return to the harbor), we were a little curious when the jury etc. started heckling us quite aggressively to go directly to the beach. As soon as we hauled out, in faster time than I imagined it would take 170 Lasers and their coaches to get out big black thunder heads swept over the sun and darkness fell across the sky. I changed and rolled up my equipment and then took cover with a few other guys in a neigboring apartment complex to watch the weather unfold.

Sure enough, the rain started pouring down accompanied by visible lightning strikes on the headlands near the boatpark and on the ocean in our course area. Of course ahead of the storm cells there was sailable breeze, but immediately afterwards the breeze would crap out and drop to nil. After about an hour of waiting the race committee decided to call off the day’s racing probably upon learning that Sydney airport had closed due to extreme winds and weather headed our way. Nothing we can do about the weather, but the committee definitely did the right thing. It felt a bit like the Atlantic Northeast of the US with the thunder and lightning keeping us ashore, but then you realize that a monster two-increasing-to-four meter swell was running underneath you and breaking in double-overhead waves on the point 150 yards from our launching beach. The surfing was entertaining, but the sailing was literally a wash.

Forecast looks better for today, but waking up this morning shows the sixth day in a row of drizzle and light air on the race area.- Andrew Campbell