November 25 - December 1, 2018: Issue 385


Palm Beach Sailing Club's Beware The Bullets Regatta 2018

A 'cracking weekend' was had by all sailing in this year's PBSC Beware the Bullets Regatta, great conditions, great people, great support crew and great courses on a brilliant Pittwater. Even those who couldn't sail due to a dodgy knee, for example, had a great time catching up with everyone. Newcomers also commented on the friendliness of the club and its members and the superlative way the regatta is run. 

This was the 53rd consecutive running of the annual regatta. In the 1970’s and 1980’s the Beware The Bullets regatta was conducted from Governor Phillip Park where over 200 off-the-beach catamarans would attend. The sport then saw a huge decline in the 1990’s and early 2000’s but is now seeing a resurgence with an increase in participation of about 5-10% per year.

Many teams are husband/wives or father/daughter, father/son combinations who enjoy competitive yet social racing. Classes/brands of boats included Hobie Cat 16, Hobie Cat 18, Taipan, Formula 18, A Class, Wetta. This year the regatta also incorporated the NSW State Titles for the Taipan Catamaran Class.

The name for the regatta 'Beware The Bullets' stems from the sailing course area near Barrenjoey Headland. The sand spit connecting it to the mainland allows the traditional nor-east seabreeze to blow over the sand spit, but also bend around the headland. At times there are freak gusts that bounce down onto the water in short bursts that can catch the sailors by surprise. These unexpected gusts are called 'Bullets'. When sailing close to Barrenjoey Headland you therefore need to be careful or 'beware of the bullets'. 

Every year we see catamarans flying a hull very high as a result of the bullets and, if you are not careful and react swiftly, the bullets can make the boat capsize and sailors lose their position in the race. 

Teams capsize elsewhere on the estuary of course - these boats are built for speed and fast manoeuvres and these don't always come off. As John Forbes, Olympian, multi World Champion and PBSC Member for decades recently explained;

"The best part of catamaran sailing is being able to go so fast, so close to the water. We reach speeds of up to 30 knots whilst racing which is often three times the speed of many other boats on the water and also two to three times the speed of the wind. It is fascinating. There is also the art of tuning a high speed catamaran to be able to achieve this. There is a great skill required to tune the sails into aerofoil shapes that allow an increase in boat speed as the wind strength and wind direction changes. The mast and sail shape variation is very similar to an aeroplane wing but vertical, in that you must increase or decrease the foil shape or curve of the mast and sail to best match the lift and speed that gets you from one buoy to the next buoy in the fastest most efficient way."

The club has a policy to encourage sailors at all levels, from young beginner sailors to Grand Masters. 

"Our members range from the inexperienced to World Champions and Olympic medallists and one of our members has just been awarded an MBE for Services to Sailing in his home country of PNG." Richard Lacey, PBSC Commodore explains.

Upu Kila, who has been awarded an MBE this year during the Queens Birthday Honours Lists, flew out to Papua New Guinea on Monday after the regatta. His investiture takes place at Port Moresby on November 29th - more on that soon.

"We are a family based club where there is a focus on sharing the joy of sailing and being able to do so in a fun and supportive atmosphere." Mr Lacey says.

"We want everyone to come down and give it a try. Come out on beautiful Pittwater - where magic meets marvellous sailing."

The club hosts regular club races, sailing from Sand Point 'off the beach' as well as some great fun events such as the Princess regatta - yes, go sail in your tiara and taffeta, or the equally popular Fish and Chips run to Patonga.

They also host other National Titles and will be the host venue for the F16 Australian National Titles February 13-17, 2019. A chance for all to see more fast fleet sailing on spectacular Pittwater.

The motto of PBSC is 'if you can sail here you can sail anywhere' due to the fluky conditions Pittwater can turn on. It's a great place to begin as you will have a soft landing, and a great place to progress your skills because you will be among great company that knows the estuary and the conditions and how to sail - really, really well.

Find out more at:

2018 Beware the Bullets Regatta Results

Below run some photos from this year's Beware the Bullets Regatta - images by Dick Clarke, Trevor Gourlay and A. J. Guesdon.