Windy Too recap of NSW State Title – by Carl Russett

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    Saturday/Sunday recap:  Well, what an experience!  I have (clearly) struggled for an analogy, and the best I have come up with is this:  if I was condemned to death by firing squad, I’d rather be shot by bikini clad stunners than ugly old men.  I’d rather go out with happy thoughts.  We had our butts kicked so hard, but by the nicest, most welcoming folks around.  In some respects it was quite surreal.  I am glad we had someone counting the races and I was sure if I blinked I’d miss one.  I blame myself for our poor performance.

    My first mistake was to leave the blooper behind.  Clearly there was no time to set it during the races – we struggled setting the spinnaker over such short legs – but before the races there was the time.  The fleet did practice laps of the course and sent kids up the mast to adjust their rigs.  We ensured we were still breathing.  The pressure got to Alan who wanted to send someone up the mast just to come down again or undo something just to do it up again.  But if I’d brought the blooper, we could have set it before the race and really psyched them out!  Just imagine, the (few) older folk questioning their dementia and the younger kids cursing their grandparents for giving them an incomplete sailing education.  Our blooper on a Farr 40, never been seen before – what a lost opportunity!  I am sorry.

    My next mistake was to let on about our well stocked fridge.  I am not sure whether it was just the wily race officials or the fleet had conspired together to use it against us, but the buggers gave us no time between races to have a refreshing ale!  The boat stayed heavy and we got exhausted.  I am sorry.  (The rest of the fleet had ample time for a three course meal between races and I suppose that we should be grateful they did actually wait for us to finish each race before they started the next – possibly something in the Sailing Instructions helped us there).

    Admittedly I suspect age did have something to do with it.  We were faster to windward than on the runs.  I thought our fleet leadership in receding hair may of accounted for this disparity given the lower wind resistance, but I glanced at my own girth and have doubted that theory.  I wondered if the Farr 40 Class Rules had a geriatric clause somewhere in them allowing old buggers to have a few extra kilos in the weight restriction as we needed the tenth person – but I lost my reading glasses and must have dozed off going through those rules.  Matt suggested that after another 10 races we would have had them and that they cancelled Monday’s racing out of that fear.  I suspect Matt gets delusional with regular beer depredation.

    Talk also turned to our (absent) guru sailor, Allen Stormon, and it was generally agreed that for his own cardiovascular well-being it was best that was unable to join us.

    I had already flagged our tactics to the fleet (head windward at the start and follow the fleet) which would normally be a mistake, but it was not in this case as the kindly fleet took to lowering their sails between races signalling the end which was very handy for my own dementia riddled mind as I knew to head for the finish line rather than the gates.  I did notice that those wily race officials threw in a course with two extra legs on the second day – I suspect they were trying to see what happened to us and our strategy if we were lapped – but we were too quick for that!

    Yes, we were never lapped and we always finished.  We were by far the most consistent performing yacht.  We also did improve.  On the first day we had more wine glasses than in the Squadron’s wine cellar – so many that we went to the fractional kite as it made for smaller mistakes.

    We also learnt heaps.  We learnt that there is a massive difference in performance of the boat under fractional and masthead kites.  That knowledge will make me money as I’ll sell the old, light fractional kite.  We learnt that it is best to secure a spinnaker dropped down the front hatch before heading windward.  Poor Penny finished pulling our lovely coloured blue kite down the hatch only to re-emerge to the cockpit and become ensconced in it again.  We learnt that Russell can spot rocks easily when we hurtle towards them.  (With our spinnaker skills, oncoming rocks tended to be more of a hazard than those pesky ferries).  With Russell it was really great to have such a calming influence and optimist on board – but being a mate of Simon O’s there is no surprises there.  We learnt that it is extremely hard to shift a spinnaker pole up and down the mast with the rope caught in a busted block – and we learnt how helpful our competitors were when one of the Transfusion guys went off-site to get us a replacement very early Sunday morning.  We learnt where we keep the bosun’s chair and that the engine is our friend (I’m sure glad we replaced the engine with one that actually starts).

    Whilst other’s went up the mast to fine tune their rig before each race, we went up the mast during the race to release twisted spinnaker halyards – we learnt the former is preferable.  I suspect none of us took sleeping pills at night and a few may have awoken with sore throats and deaf wives.

    Whilst it would be incorrect to say I enjoyed every moment, I certainly have no regrets and will not forget the experience for as long as my dementia allows.  Whilst I had no delusions of us being better sailors than our competitors, I suspect we all felt a bit disappointed that we did not perform near the best of our own abilities.  We did have many serious stuff ups – but as Graham said when we first got the boat (and started making major stuff ups) “We are very good at getting over them quickly”.  More beer would have helped, but there is no doubt we never lost our sense of humour. 

    My personal highlight was returning to the dock Saturday after an ale and some harbour sightseeing – the dock party gave us a resounding “Three Cheers” – which, after the racing we had displayed, amused me no end.  I am very grateful for those who made it possible with the deliveries as well as the racing – and to their better halves who also make it possible.  I am sure we were all very appreciative of the way the organisers and our competitors treated us – I don’t see or hear a lot of the better side of humanity these days – it was all good.