"I'll hae nae hauf-way hoose but aye be whaur extremes meet..." Hugh McDiarmid

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

leg 4 race 2: the rolex sydney hobart yacht race

we were being joined by a reporter from the australian daily telegraph and a professional sailing photographer for this race. it was pretty cool having them on board. craig (the photographer) is also a professional sailor and gave us loads of good tips and training :)

nathan (the reporter, called GI journo) was reporting every day on his progress and the race, which was pretty cool. I appeared in the paper quite a few times!
our motley crew for the sydney hobart, not including our journalist and photographer!
one of the safety features of the sydney hobart which has arisen out of previous races, is that each boat is required to do certain things before they can cross the start line. we had to show our storm sails, which involved us hoisting the (bricked) trysail and storm jib so the committee boat could see we had them and they were appropriately painted bright orange. I don't think they were quite prepared for the massive smiley face our storm jib carries as a motivational tool... we were the only boat out of the 94 starters with a smiley face. I think there may be more next year :)

we also had to hail the committee boat and shout to them how many souls were on board, and wait for their response. without a response we couldn't cross the start line and our race would be discarded. once these formalities were complete, we could check out the start area.

the start area for the sydney hobart is almost as wide as the sound. there are yellow markers up each side of the race track, and the spectator boats are not permitted to be inside them. they are patrolled by police boats just to make sure. there are two start lines for the race, with two markers at the heads to make sure everyone does the same distance. the maxis and volvo open 70s start on one and everyone else starts on the other pretty much. 

it was kind of chaotic, but we weaved our way through the melee really well. we worked our way to the far right of the race track so we had clean wind and a great path through the heads before turning right and heading south towards the bass strait. again. our second crossing in a month. the clipper 70s were reasonably tightly packed, and as switzerland manoeuvered around us, they clipped our port quarter with their bowsprit. whoops. chris the engineer was summoned to fill the small holes they'd left in the hull, while a few of us tried to cobble together a replacement guard rail out of spare lines and gaffa tape.

switzerland before they hit us! rude...
craig's amazing picture of the start. you can see the damage to the rear port quarter if you look closely.

when the picture above was taken, I was sitting with chris on the rail and we were talking about what an amazing experience this race is. what better way to celebrate christmas and hang out on boxing day, we decided, than to do this iconic race. the start had been utter chaos and I think everyone was on edge with so many boats in such close quarters, but we'd got through it and the adrenaline was still pumping. it made me want to do it again next year, and we had only just crossed the line!

once we were out of the heads, we headed south towards the strait and tasmania. it was another fairly eventful crossing. the kite halyard stripped and we couldn't douse the kite. I ended up going north with the spare staysail halyard to sort it out. the head of the kite was stuck at the second spreader and it was big seas. I went up, attached the spare halyard to the head of the kite, and disconnected the kite halyard. the guys on deck then lowered the kite in a controlled way, dousing it. I then went north with the kite halyard to sort out the mess at the masthead.

another pasting in the bass strait followed. why does the wind always come from the front, regardless of which way you are pointing?? it's a mystery. eventually we reached tasmania and were more protected from the weather. we got to the mouth of the derwent river in the early morning, and tacked our way up to the finish. where gillian, the race officer, and beer were waiting. and some good news! no rig check, safety check or deep clean! hurrah!!! 

No comments:

Post a Comment