And all for what? Xena needed her delicate undersides brushed over and scrubbed, wiped and polished (Can you picture it? That’s using a broom and squeegee over the hull for those needing clarity). Now isn’t that just the treat before a race! Xena getting a ‘hullicure’!
And bear in mind Xena’s tied up at this stage. No it’s not what you think! It’s a public wharf – but who’s going to argue with a Warrior Princess!
So here we have a tied up Xena, an off-put motor yacht, displaced fisherman, and Willo trying to navigate the LoEG so we can jump aboard. Executing manoeuvres like a gymnast on the pommel horse, Willo noses in the craft for a swift ‘touch and go’. Take two! Nuts didn’t quite make it first go.
Okay, let’s get to the race!
The time was past normal race start time and the sea breeze was yet to blow in. The clubhouse was flying an unusual chequered flag, (which no-one on board could decipher), and a course flag was yet to be flown. A short time later the hooter sounded with a hoisting of the Course 5 flag. Now under the 5 minute countdown the line became a flurry of action as an all-boat-division call made for an exciting start to the days’ racing. Perfect timing, as the nor’wester was making its late arrival.
(BTW great call from Anne - perfect course for the day – as always called. And the unknown chequered flag had been quickly identified as ‘Late Change to sailing instructions’ – of course!).
A glance across the race line, and it was noticed Still Festering were seen to be retreating to the moorings in Looking Glass Bay before the start gun. Surely the ‘light’ weather conditions weren’t too ominous for the crew! Odds were taken that they were still deciding on what foresail to run and needed extra time to sort it out (which is a tough one when you’ve got a Headsail furler!) or they had a race strategy in mind that starting from in front of the line might be of some advantage? Either way it looked doubtful that any attempt was in contention since the mainsail was being brought down. (that’s a sorry sight for any onlooker, be it an ally or foe).
Underway and racing on a NE breeze that rose between 5 to 10 kts, the fleet were in close quarters down the first leg towards Abbotsford Point. The ‘all plumbers crew’ of AOE who had the stellar inside line, working it finely; but not outdone, Willo had us next on a SB tack that saw AOE rounding our stern. Sailing side by side towards Abbotsford Bay with wind slightly dropping, LoEG and AOE were abreast by two boat lengths, when out of the blue Resurgent aptly surged through on the same wisp of air that all were getting the same taste of. Watch and wonder! (Nice sailing R).
A few tacks more to level past Searles and Resurgent were increasing the lead over LoEG and AOE. With all boats mid-stream amongst swirling uncertain breeze, Resurgent and AOE tacked to port, whereas LoEG went to starboard – (latter this would be seen as the deciding moment to the final line honours). While Resurgent and AOE sailed alongside Henley, Willo opted to take to the opposite side where a strong gust lifted LoEG to power alongside Chiswick. On looking round it appeared R and AOE had caught less favourable wind, but rest assured, they were sniffing the breeze for the next favourable gust, like a bull in a paddock of timely heifers! like a prowling lion in the Serengeti!
Working towards the islands, R and AOE were making the most of the freshening wind strengths, as too were we, as the crews made alongside Drummoyne and Balmain. Young George (Wilson) was exercising his new gained skills on the ropes and winch, easing the pressure on ‘young-veteran’ Carl and showing he’s a real contender for an LoEG status. No chips to munch on this week! Dr’s orders.
Rounding Cockatoo and taking to spinnaker, R had closed the gap with AOE still in close waters. These positions stayed the same for the remainder of the race, with varying time gaps between spinnaker runs and tacks to keep all aware it was still anyone’s race. There wasn’t any room for restful moment as any slip-up could cause a probable change in rank.
Speaking of restful moments though! The never-give-in crew of SF were seen coming alongside Woolwich peninsula mid race. No, not under sail to recover points, but under motor! It was assumed that the contents of the nice cool esky must have still needed emptying. Nice recovery guys and gal!
By days end both good times and not-so-good times were had (Condolences to SF for having lost their forestay), but a magic autumn day out on the water all the same. Final placings across the line: 1st – LoEG; 2nd – Resurgent; 3rd – AOE.