It was a cooler day, more cloud than blue sky and still blowing as we woke to face the last days racing. All were jaded by this time, poor old Trent was really under the weather and then we were told we would be doing 2 races. The first was to be windward leeward, which is exactly what the race officials said they wouldn’t do.
We had been forced into a racing division when we were really only interested in cruising – long legs with plenty of time to do everything. We were really not prepared to do a short leg race with lots of spinnaker hoists, drops and packs, followed by a long race up to horseshoe bay and back.
All other divisions were just doing the long race, so they sent them away first then started us last. Nothing felt right from the very start, and poor Smudge got thrown from his perch on the spinnaker and couldn’t find a snug spot where he was comfortable, so poohed on Ruth and Trents bed ☹️. Eventually I got him settled and were were at our first mark rounding and kite hoist. It went far from smoothly, but we got there and then had to prepare for a gybe. Again, not very quick or pretty, but then it was prepare to drop the spinnaker for the second beat. A saturated kite made its slow way below, then it was downstairs to get it packed!
Needless to say it took me ages to pack it and when I had finally got it in the bag I realised the bag was inside out 😠. This meant it was difficult to secure the spinnaker in the bag and impossible to clip the bag on to the boat so we didn’t lose it! Managed to get the very heavy bag on deck for the next rounding as we were about to get to the mark. As Lorna was clipping the kite on, she accidentally let go the halyard, so our only option was to pull it up and use the other halyard, which meant someone would need to go up the mast to retrieve it later. This hoist was hard. Poor Trent had almost no energy to get the wet kite to the top of the mast, and was exhausted by the time it got there. Then we had to gybe, but at least we knew the finish was ahead.
Crossed the finish line, decided to just drop the kite without pulling out the heady, and disaster! As we started to get the kite down, the sheet and brace unclipped and suddenly we were flying the spinnaker from the mast like a flag. All this in a tight area with not much room to manoeuvre. Eventually, we managed to snag the remaining sheet and brace with the boat hook, which allowed us to retrieve the kite, though again, not without it getting another good soaking. We had everyone on the bow to gather it in, then crammed it in the bag and sent it back to the cockpit for repacking while we reran the sheets and braces, to get ready for the next race.
Everyone was completely exhausted by this time, with Lorna and Trent in need of recovery time, but all we could do was feed them Gatorade and ask them to get ready for another race, but at least not a short leg race. Much muttering and grumbling about why we had to go and do windward leeward before another race, then we were in start sequence. I promised Trent that once we got round the first mark, I would get him the neurophen cold and flu to help him through the rest of the race.
We had a really good start as usual, and had been going for about a minute when BANG! Jib halyard broken, sail starts to descend, so we quickly get everyone forward to pull the sail down. With vertical battens it was really hard to get the sail in control and we lost a batten in the process. By the time the jib was down and in control exhaustion was setting in, and we made the decision to retire and head in to dock. The decision was not made lightly, given we were leading the pointscore, but we recognised that we could not push the boat or crew any further without damage. So in we headed with heavy hearts.
It was a very subdued return and boat clean up, a single beer as we ate our lunch at the dock, then cleaning up and trying to get the boat back to a happy place. We decided to leave the halyards until tomorrow, packed up the jib and then sat down to nibbles and another beer. Pete saw that results had issued for the first race and we had a creditable 4th, but he worked out that it was very unlikely we would now make a podium place with a retired score to count in. To console himself, he decided to saubrage a bottle of champagne, so prepared the bottle, stood on the dock, and took the top clean off with the fishing knife!
Big cheers all round and the party got underway. Trent prepared the next bottle, and again a successful saubrage. Very quickly a further bottle was required, so Pete attempted it with a winch handle – perfect again.
Trent came up with the quote of the week –
“Champagne in victory, champagne in defeat”
By this time Pilgrim was back from racing and Sandy-Bob was desperate to try the saubrage after watching Trent complete his winch handle opening! She prepared a bottle of Janz in case it didn’t go quite to plan, and got a detailed lesson from Trent on how to ensure it would work. Then she calmly took the top clean off, the video of her astonishment was hilarious and did the rounds for the rest of the evening!
Of course the party was well in swing by now, music on and Pilgrims came to join the WDS mob as the fave singing and dancing tunes got louder and more raucous. Few made it to shower and change before presentation dinner at 5:30, so we just partied on. As we walked round to Peppers, Karyn caught us up and said she had just had a congratulatory text from her mum. On asking further, it turns out that we had a drop, and actually came second overall, despite the disasterous day! Talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat! 🏆
Dinner was good and filling, soaking up some of the alcohol we had consumed and setting a base for the activity that would follow. The presentation followed dinner, we collected our hard earned second prize, then the dancing commenced. The restaurant pulled open the big windows and we had a window ledge wide enough to dance on and long enough to fit the whole crew, and elevated above the crowd. The band were awesome, playing many of our on board favourites, allowing the WDS dance mob to strut its stuff. I swear that at one point we were the most photographed crew of the evening with our red sunset shirts and groovy moves, as well as knowing most of the words! The Flashdance crew tried to get in on the act, but could only dance at floor level, though they were a good bunch with a mean choreographer!
Finally the band wrapped up, but we could not get out of the restaurant, everyone kept stopping us to say what a great fun boat we were, and what great racing it had been. I heard Party Boat mentioned so often, I think we need to rename the boat! We finally made it back to WDS, where we all attempted a nightcap, but I don’t think many of us finished them. It was midnight when we finally got to bed.
A satisfying end to the best ever sailing regatta!