Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SAILING ON 'STEINLAGER 2' (2) - Auckland Anniversary Regatta 2015

There are words that end up consigned to the language dustbin by overuse or misuse. Sports commentators are the greatest facilitators of the sad fate of perfectly good words rendered redundant by dunderheaded exclamations. "Brilliant goal!" screams the TV soccer commentator - umm, NO, "Skillful play" I say, "Albert Einstein was brilliant, the light from a high wattage light bulb is brilliant."
"Awesome batting" shouts the sports commentator down the microphone - umm, NO, "A skillfully placed shot by a talented batsman" I reply. "A volcanic eruption is awe inspiring, as would be the view of the Andromeda Galaxy close up in deep space ...... but a piece of wood hitting a round thingie? .... not bloody likely". This mangling of our perfectly wonderfully expressive English language is a veritable pain in the arse (to use a perfectly reasonable local idiom).

Well shipmates I can hear you mumbling, "Where is the silly old fool going with all of this?" Well it's this - My experience sailing on Steinlager 2 yesterday allows the word 'Awesome' to come home to the definition of its true meaning and to fly her celebration colours high, high, high on her splendid mast for the whole world to see. My experience when sailing on Steinlager 2 was Awesome - Awe Inspiring - Wonderful - I loved every minute of the sail.

The experience was enhanced by being part of the crew. All the paying guests were part of the working crew and we raced Steinlager along with the permanent crew. I worked in tandem with another grinder on the mainsail coffee grinder winch. Four women worked the remaining two winches that worked the jib and spinnaker sheets. Their two winches were linked and worked together as one. When required all three winches were linked by the flick of a switch for raising the mains'l and spinnaker.

The sun shone, the wind blew, the Waitamata harbour sparkled as only she can and aided and abetted by Steinlagers very willing crew 'Big Red' fairly flew along - it was truly ....... awesome...... and I looked, listened, thought, smelt, tasted, touched.....  willing myself to imprint this wonderful experience for the warm soft glow of remembrance.  

Having left the Viaduct Basin we motor out onto Waitamata Harbour.
Sail covers still on, we are just tooling around sight seeing as we await the start.
Up goes the mains'l .......

....... that was big enough to cover a tennis court.
Up goes the mizzen adding even more power to the huge rig.
Waiting for the start - the ten minute gun has gone - time for a quick photo.
And we are off. After a few tacks we were heading for Rangitoto Island. Being the biggest yacht on the harbour we easily cut through the fleet on the first upwind leg.
10.8 knots, slightly eased now with the wind angle 44 degrees, windspeed 21 knots. I couldn't get this speed out of Mariner sailing downhill, with a very strong tail wind and the motor going.
Heading north past 'North Head'.
To use the lingo of motorbike journalists and to show I am not a complete curmudgeon when it comes to the use of language lets just say that here we were just "Stonking along."
Approaching the northern bouy and getting ready for the spinnaker hoist.
The womens coffee grinders were linked to the spinnaker trimming sheet winch. Here they are winching like fury on the downhill leg.
'Big Reds' big red spinnaker pulling like a team of horses.
Now on the opposite gybe and taking in the spinnaker - fast and furious work to get it all down the hatch and below.
After several circuits of the course we are now flying down to the finish with the mizzen stays'l set and helping to give us an extra burst of speed as we take line honours in the race.
Race finished, mizzen stays'l down, time to relax and savour our win.
Furling the mains'l in a way that helps protect the expensive exotic cloth that the mains'l is made of is a major undertaking.
All sails furled and put to bed, sail covers back on, time to head back to the mooring.
Back through the lifting bridge and into the Viaduct Basin.
Back on the mooring pontoon. Such a great sail! But there are more such great sails to come! (watch this space).

There were many sights to see as we raced around Auckland harbour - More about that next blog.

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