Saturday, 11 October 2008

Big day

My cell phone woke me at 5.15 am, and I quickly dressed, packed the last of my bag, and made a quick breakfast in the motel in Napier. At 5.50 on the dot, my taxi arrived and took me to the airport, and a very pleasant flight had me in Christchurch at 8.15 am.

At 11, I collected Mark Schroeder and we rigged Impulsive for our first race of the season. The race began as a 1-knot drifter, then a little localised breeze got the first dozen boats, including us, round the first mark well ahead of the fleet.

The wind then reversed after we'd spent 10 minutes under spinnaker, so down it came and we trimmed up for a long beat into a lovely 8-10 knot easterly. We did spectacularly well on this; the majority of the front bunch went over to the Lyttelton side of the harbour and short-tacked up that side, but we broke all the rules of yacht racing and went on a lone flyer out towards Purau. We got a great breeze, and met up with our buddy Chris Hutching in his little yacht Henry Salad (don't ask...) which was actually the reason we'd gone that way. It wasn't tactics, just visiting a mate, but we won't tell.

Anyway, we charged up the centre of the harbour under our big genoa, keeping up with a Young 88 keeler for most of the leg - that was good for the ego! As we got close to the top mark, Schroeds and I were saying to each other "We've done really well here", and we were right - we had put ourselves level with the leading bunch. Because of the slow first hour in the drifter, the committee shortened the race at that point, so a committee boat was waiting at the top mark displaying flag S (shortened course) and taking our times.

Left - Mark Schroeder, master of the spinnaker

That meant that the long downwind leg was not officially racing, though some who don't know the rules well were confused about this, we discovered later. We had some good spinnaker practice, drank beer, and told each other what a great day we were having, then arrived back at the club about 4.15. Then came the really good news...

As we were retrieving the boat onto the trailer, a race official came past and said "You guys have won both", then disappeared. When we got to the bar after tidying away, we found he was right. We won Division 2 on handicap, on our first official outing in the division, and we beat the entire fleet on corrected time - trailer yachts, sport boats, keelers, the lot!

Our lovely spinnaker (with wrong sail number)

So it's a tired, sunburnt, and happy chappy who's about to toddle off for an early night.

Left; see how far behind the other spinnakers are!

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