Monday, August 06, 2007

Words of wisdom...

Just read a couple of wise words that suddenly made me realise something about someone I know, that I probably knew deep down but can only now accept as fact....And no, I have not been drinking.

"A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person."

On a lighter note and from the same barrel of wise words;

"Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night"

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Winners are grinners..

Back to the real world after 2 days 11 hours and 15minutes of fun.

One word to describe the race. Fun. The weather for the sail could not have been much better. We spent most of the time under spinnaker blasting along at between 7 and 9 knots with a few slow periods of lighter air that bought our average speed for the 384 mile race back to 6.5 knots. This is fast for our boat as it is a cruiser not a light weight racer.

The start with 72 boats was fantastic. We were all under spinnaker on port tack in Sydney harbour, the bright yellow Kavanagh Balloons branded kite flying along with all the big names in Australian racing. A quick gybe just after sow'n'pigs reef got us out of the heads and then a gybe back to port to head up to coast. From there until midnight we were running with the Kav kite until wind speeds got up over 30knots and we pulled it down before it broke something. Maximum boat speed was 12.2 knots on the first night.

Sunday morning and the breeze had eased slightly and the Kav kite went back up until we pulled a swift little gybe and set a bigger and lighter kite around 10am. During the day we passed a few whales and even got to see a large humpback breech a few times. No photos - too busy racing!

We held the big kite all day in lighter winds. That night the light weight kite suffered a small tear during a gybe and soon blew out leaving us with the kite torn in two pieces.

A quick drop of the damaged sail and the heavier Kav kite went back up with little fuss and we were under way.

Lighter winds on Monday morning made for a few tense moments as boats we had passed or been holding off started to creep up around us. It kept everyone focussed and made for some jovial exchanges at change of watch as to who had done a better job keeping boat speed and course. We also got to see more whales and a few dolphins.

Sunrise on Monday morning

By sunset Monday we were at Byron Bay and the winds were back up above 20knots and the boat humming along in the high 7 to 8 knot range again. We were visited by some more dolphins having a play in our bow wave.

We had calculated we needed a run rate of 5.6knots to beat UBS Wild Thing but it was all depending on the finish time for Stampede as to whether we would get 1st or 2nd.

After rounding Point Danger we gybed back to port for the line, passing behind Tartan who we had been in close contact with all day. Soon after the sea breeze flipped to the westerly and we were able to drop out kite and hoist the number 2 head sail for a reach into the finish line. In the change of direction and our timing of the gybe we ended up in front of Tartan and they followed us over the line about 200m behind and in 4th place.

For us, we had done enough to finish in first place on corrected time and in doing so had some very sporty boats behind us. Wild Thing had finished 15 hours ahead but with the performance handy cap system that put them 3 hours behind us on corrected time.

Not bad for my first big ocean race. The skipper summed it up perfectly. "We are out to have fun and winning is the best sort of fun."

We pulled into a berth at the Southport Yacht club at about 2am and could hear the party at the club going strong. A quick change from full race gear into the appropriate onshore sailing gear and we were in there drinking Bundy and Coke from jugs like the rest and best of them. A little after 4.30 am it was time to sleep for a few hours before breakfast and the presentation.

The talk at a yacht club after a race is as bad or worse than a ballooning championship. Lots of hand signals describing manoeuvres, rules and tactics. Back slapping for a job well done and commiserations over wrong decisions. The biggest difference is the drinking - I am yet to see rum and coke being sold by the jug at a balloon meet. It might get more people into ballooning if we did...

There is also the uniform. You have to look salty and wind/sun burned with the right shirt (name of your boat or a famous race is mandatory) and beer or rum in hand (a jug is good for extra or instant friends).

A great quote overheard while sitting below decks at the yacht club: "Oh thats Namadgi.....we were beaten by that? Oh no!"

Highlights for me have to be helming for about 8 hours in the race, at speed and under spinnaker. Overtaking a few boats while on the helm only to have the crew ooh and ahh at the whales! Getting the met right and seeing it all unfold more or less as I expected. Getting to share a race with dad, that was cool. Winning but I suppose that is a little obvious.

It was a great honour to sail and share in the win with Rick (Skipper), Gath (Nav), Jack, Brad Susan and dad. Thanks for having me along for the ride.

Balina nearing Sunset

Dad & Susan near North Solitary Island

Me on the helm during happy hour