Sunday, February 14, 2016

___________________ SIX HOUR ENDURANCE RACE _____________________

After having been suitably fed and having imbibed a looooong draft of beer from a large barrel of Speights I am typing this four hours after the end of a six hour endurance yacht race on Whangarei Harbour run by the Onerahi Yacht Club ......... and not to put too finer point on it ......... I am pretty bloody knackered.

Six hours racing in a small centerboard yacht is a long time. I was well prepared with a new hiking suit into which I inserted hiking pads for the back of my thighs and some foam for my calves; but I still managed to bang my bung knee so hard I yelled a string of expletives that any pirate would be proud of. I also managed to clout the top of my head once out of twenty six successful gybes I executed at the bottom mark.

The boats on the trailer behind the red Toyota in the above photograph belong to a family who sail Starling dinghies - and sail them very well indeed.

The wind speed varied during the day between 20 - 35 kms per hour which meant I only came into my own and became competitive sailing upwind (tacking to and fro) in the higher wind range.  This is because of my weight which is a lot heavier than the other skippers who are mainly high school children and a couple of adults who know what a healthy weight is.

I was lucky to actually to be able to take any photos at all. I was late for the start because I had trouble figuring out how to set up the boom vang pulleys, then about one minute into the race I lurched to windward at the bottom of a wave, over corrected, capsized and got behind even further. When I got myself sorted out, there on the bottom of the cockpit floor was my $650 submersible camera. It had fallen out of what I thought was a safe place in a pocket on the front of my life jacket.

I only capsized once in the whole six hours which is not the fate that befell most of the others. Gybing in fresh winds is notoriously difficult and as people got tireder and lost their concentration capsizing became more frequent.

Of course I wasn't bothered that people with figures like stick insects whose body weight is such that their power to weight ratio makes their boats twice as fast as mine capsize - it sort of balanced the ledger a bit. It was a sailing day where there was a meeting of sorts between fat and experienced and thin and not quite so experienced.

The tide turned about three hours into the race and began to flow out. This created a tide against the wind situation which produced some very short and sharp seas which came over the bow in great deluges. Happily most of this was removed by the venturi self bailer on the floor of the cockpit.

At the end of the race I could hardly find the strength to haul the boat out of water on the trolley. After washing down the hull and sails with fresh water from a hose I slowly pulled the boat over to where the car road trailer is. The heavens then opened and the rain came down in a great deluge.

Happy is the man who can still get his sailing act together and perform credibly enough to be placed second equal (26 laps of the course) in a six hour endurance race five months out from his sixty fifth birthday. Such a man is in his element - he loves life and sailing with a passion and he looks forward to enjoying at least another decade of small boat sailing.


Ben said...

Wauw 6 hours, and you did it all. Congratulations. You definitely look healthy after a day’s work.

Dan Gurney said...

You did well, Alden. I can see from the photo of the skinny skipper standing near the yacht "Menace" that the strong winds were a welcome equalizer.

Only one capsize in six hours in that kind of wind was quite an accomplishment. I'm glad you didn't lose your camera.

Those six hours would have seemed a lot longer had it been a drifter.

George A said...

Well done!

Alden Smith said...

Thanks Ben. Today after a good nights sleep I feel pretty good apart from a few age related aches. My worst mistake was not taking a water bottle with me! I was pretty thirsty at the end of six hours, hence a large beer consumption when I got home!

Alden Smith said...

Thanks George - and you are right... I was really 'well done' in by the end of it all LOL.

Alden Smith said...

Thanks Dan, the skinny skipper of 'Menace' told me one year the race was a drifter (in the blazing sun) and was almost unbearable. I was glad there was plenty of wind, I like it that way whatever I am sailing in.
I was Very! lucky with the camera. I take my car key with me tied securely to a piece of cord - I shall have my camera tied in a similar way next time - Did I say 'Next Time'? LOL.

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Bravo - bet that beer tasted good!!

Alden Smith said...

Thanks Steve - the beer tasted real good!