Australian Outback Regatta

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A competitor sails the muddy waters of the Australian Outback. Photo courtesy of the Lead South Australia

A competitor sails the muddy waters of the Australian Outback. Photo courtesy of the Lead South Australia

There are any number of rugged patches of water out there—think Cape Horn or the Bass Strait. Now it’s time to add another—Poondulanna Lake in the heart of the forbidding Australian Outback, site of the 2016 Outback Spirit Lake Eyre Yacht Club Regatta.

“We only found this lake two weeks ago. We had weather up to 37 degrees Celsius (99F) and not a lot of shade, so you have to come prepared,” said club commodore Bob Backway, whose 220-member club was founded in 2010 but has not held a regatta since 2013 because of lack of water. Lake Eyre is Australia’s biggest and the world’s 13th largest lake when full, which it hasn’t been since 1974.

According to three-time regatta veteran Darius Kubilius, Lake Poondulanna—which is located about 500 miles north of Adelaide along the infamously tough Birdsville Track—is so shallow a number of entrants were forced to cut down their rudders to avoid running aground.

“It’s definitely not for everyone. For most it would be too daunting. But there are always those adventure seekers like me who are willing to pack their cars and do the long drive to sail the Australian Outback,” Kubilius said.

Winning the monohull class at this year’s regatta were Lisa Beecham and Dave Pullin, while Daryl Skinner took first among the multihulls. In all, 45 sailors took part aboard a score of different boats. For more on the club, which has adopted the motto “Ya gotta be jokin’—No, we’re not!” visit lakeeyreyc.com.

July 2016

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