Today was the first day of the 2010 Contender Pre-worlds, the 2010 Contender Australian Championship, and the event organizer Matt Mulder who is a former Australian and current Queensland Contender Champion, was in his element.
Pre-event it had been calculated that 70% of the time there are north easterly sea breezes on the Contender race course in January.
But today was straight out of the fine print; heavy overcast, humid, a southerly averaging 18 knots, topping out at 26 knots.
There have been big tides all week. The tide runs out to the south east of the Waterloo Bay course, between King and Green Islands with a south easterly breeze of 17-26 knots - classic wind against tide conditions. With sharp little seas of 1-1.5 metres there was some 'washing machine' about it - the locals call it 'Waterloo slop'.
In the race one of the Pre-Worlds first across the line was Matt Mulder, just five boat lengths ahead of the Italian master and seven times World Champion Andrea Bonezzi. Third was the Australia pre-event favourite Jono Neate, a surprising two minutes back. Then there was another long gap to the Brit most likely to succeed, Simon Mussel. The German top gun Christop Homeier was next, with Australian Class President Chris Sutherland following.
Behind them straggled the fleet, in various stages of disrepair. Race officials decided 'enough was enough' and canned the second race. The rescue boats towed in three boats with damaged rudders and masts; there were in fact 17 boats that failed to finish the course, 12 of them capsizing and were unable to right their boats without assistance.
There was a number of 'chock tops'. The water depth across much of the dinghy course is not much over two metres and the Morton Bay mud is dark brown, if you add 1-1.5 metres of sharp little seas and a capsize ... behold a 'choc-top' as the boats are righted, that is Morton Bay mud on the mast tip.
Standing in the sunshine enjoying a free beer, Bonezzi said simply, "it was tough out there!"
Of course Mulder, the 95kg+ winner was grinning. "Hope we get this [wind] pressure all week. It was awesome out there, I just loved it."