Thursday, 29 October 2009

What are you racing for? Why?

Last weekend we had perhaps the best Coastal Classic Yacht Race ever: fine, 20-28 knots SW; we averaged 7.3 knots peaking at 12.2 surfing the following sea towards the Hen and Chicks, dropping to zero at Cape Brett around midnight.

12.2 knots (22.5 km/hr) may seem kind of slow. But for a 29’ (8.8m) Wagstaff designed, GRP skinned timber sloop High Spirits, that’s a cracking pace with her gear loaded to the max: her gennaker sheet so tight it’s plinking at the winch like ukulele string; the helmsman pumping for 1.5 minute rides on following waves.

After dark, still doing 8 knots, cans of Red Bull keep us awake and slugs of Old Brown sherry straight from the bottle stave off the pre-dawn cold; the coastal skyline silhouetted by sickle moon in cloudless sky.

16 hrs 22 minutes without sleep to cover that 118 nm, finishing mid-fleet (16th) in Division 4; equivalent to 6th amongst our peers in Division 5.

At 4am, anchored and snacked, we fall asleep on the sails below in our full wet weather gear and boots, waking at 7 to thaw out in the morning sun.

Did we achieve our goal? Damn right we did. We pushed little High Spirits to her limits; adapting rapidly to the unexpected, without injury other than bruises, without damage other than a few near shredded lines, to achieve a respectable result amongst her peers.

Best of all, we were in it together relishing the feel of that little boat straining and surging in the stiff breeze, and silently slipping in light airs, finally savouring completion and sweet reunion with shore-crew partners and friends at beautiful Russell in the Bay of Islands.

IMG_0113Sailing & shore crews enjoy sunset BBQ at an early settler cottage Russell, Bay of Islands NZ

It was a race for friendship, courage, for companionship, collaboration and community; a race to live: a race against complacency, predictability, and the ordinary.

What are you racing for? Why?

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