It is the morning after the night before, there’s a thick fog rolling in off the water outside and a dedicated few are hitting the beach to launch in a stark contrast to yesterday’s conditions where the promised 9 knot wind was actually 14 knts coming in from the South East in opposition to the prevailing South Westerly swells. Less than ideal conditions for yak fishing, but undeterred a flotilla of yaks and skis hit the beach in the pale morning light and began to set up for the day ahead. The Sea Sherpa crew hit the beach to conduct pre-launch safety checks and entrants began to roll into the admin marquee to collect their keytags in preparation for the 6.30 start.
A few looked at the conditions and decided against launching, leaving a field of 38 to take on the elements in search of point scoring fish. 36 of those managed to launch through the shorey unscathed, leaving a couple to go pedals up. Some gear was donated to increase Davy Jones’ already impressive collection. As per last year, the field scattered rapidly with some looking for shelter from the easterly over behind the break wall while others threw caution to the headwind and headed for the horizon. With the wind increasing as time passed, a couple of entrants returned to the beach looking a little green around the gills deciding to pull the pin. Apparently the shallow reef had plenty of natural burely. Luis returned to the beach to pick up his forgotten key tag and nabbed a quality salmon on his way, making it worth the trip back in.
Radio chatter indicated kings were around and 8am saw the 12m Coast Guard vessel join the patrol crews from Portland Bait & Tackle and Portland Surf Life Saving already on the water. Tas’ accidental decision to turn his whole AI into a livewell, predictably resulted in a SOS call via VHF and Rescue 1 was deployed to his location. He and Kieran were struggling to bail his swamped AI so the call was made to do a tow-back, with his ama on the front of the RIB and his AI running as a shallow-diving hard body on the way back to the beach. Despite a bubble trail that Williamson would be proud of, he failed to hook up on the way back in. An unfortunate end for his comp, but lucky that it occurred in the comp window given the availability of support crews on the water. Even when back on the beach, it took a crew of six quite a while to drain the hull.
Back at the admin tent I was anxiously watching the screen with updates on the wind conditions, and at 15knts the wriggle room was beginning to disappear so I radioed the field to let the guys heading for the horizion know that with the increasing trend there was a fairly high chance we would hit our 17knt cut-off point. Sure enough within an hour the wind had hit 18kts and in line with insurance and our safety procedures I had to make the call to cut the comp short and recall the entrants to the beach. Some opted to land in the harbour and avail of the Sea Sherpa shuttle service, while the Coast Guard looped out the back to follow in the paddlers out wide. The CG pilot reported difficulty keeping up with GAB paddling back in from behind the Anchorage.
Just as I was pondering what to do with the Best Catch award and prize this year if no pelagics were caught, Lennon hit the beach with a quality king and others began to hit the beach with pinkies and squid and it began to look like we would have enough fish entered to fill all of the prize slots despite the shortened comp time frame. Luis measured in the salmon he picked up and it went 62cm to the fork a quality fish for the species. A number of entrants picked up pinkies for their tally and Shane and Gab both took advantage of squid being an allowable species to pad out their bags.
As the BBQ was already booked in for 2pm with the Henty crew, the entrants had the opportunity to pack up gear and chill out before the ceremony, while a brave few decided to brave the conditions until after lunch. Two o’clock came and the Henty crew began to serve up some grub and the prize ceremony began.
In the Teams Comp, it was hard to separate the bottom two in order to award the wooden spoon. In the interest of fairness, but mostly to decide who was slightly less rubbish on the day a round of rock paper scissors was called for. Jack stepped up for Team Berleypro and for Glass is Class, Crazycheski took the podium. Unbeknownst to Jack, Steve Chen was given the name Crazychenski after an all-in round of rock paper scissors against Vladamir Putin. Chenski won a Commdore 64 that day, and was feeling confident as he came to the front. The round ended predictably and Jack along with team Berleypro were left to bask in the glory? of propping up the results table with a doughnut.
At the other end of the table, the Team Challenge title for 2018 went to the Westies with Lennon’s kingy combined with some local knowledge from Spider saw them get across the line with a team average score of 37 points. Each team member walked away with a $60 voucher for Jigman, a headscarf from Buff, a Pains Wessex Flare kit and a waterproof container for their safety gear.
|Glass is Class||0|
For the Best Catch award it was an easy decision with only one eligible pelagic caught during the comp window. Ben from Portland Bait & Tackle was on hand to present Lennon with a Shimano Torium reel and the Best Catch trophy for 2018. In the main event it was again Lennon who took the honours and the top ten shaped up like this:
|1||Lennon Doherty||89cm Kingfish||133.5|
|2||Luis Ferreiro||59cm Salmon||59|
|3||Shane Esmore||31cm Snapper
|4||Chris Tyerman||33cm Snapper
|5||Gabriele Meoni||27cm Snapper
|6||David Webb||32cm Snapper||16|
|7||Peter Ritchie||30cm Snapper||15|
|8||Stephen Kent||29cm Snapper||14.5|
|9||Geoff Smith||29cm Snapper||14.5|
|10||Nelson Rouw||28cm Snapper||14|
Special mentions to those who peaked a little early or a little late, managing to get kings over the comp weekend. Tas was first cab off the rank with a king less than a km from the launch. Both of the Ians also managed kings after the comp using cephlapods as bait.
A massive thank you to all of the entrants that made the trip down the coast to support our comp. Two years in and hopefully looking good for a third. It was unfortunate about the weather cutting the day short but I think almost everyone that made the trip down got on the water at some stage throughout the weekend. To the offshore first timers, well done on launching in tough conditions, if nothing else I hope you gained some useful experience in an environment as controlled as you can hope for in the Southern Ocean.
For those that couldn’t make the trip, here’s the photo reel of all the goings on thanks to our three talented photographers, Damian Goodman, Amy Rouw and Jennifer Ngo, its as close as we can get you to the action.
Time for a month’s break then its back to chasing up sponsors and organising the next one. In the interest of fairness next year I’ll put one red AI on each team!
See you guys at NSC19!