On Wednesday, Paul took Pete and I over to the big city, Townsville, on the ferry. We left on the first ferry, and had a great morning at chandlers, Bunnings, Target (for sodastream gas!), Dan Murphys and finally Ottos. Ottos is a great providore, with lots of lovely cheese, smallgoods, fruit, veg, a butcher and artisan bread. They also do great pies and sandwiches, and as it was getting on for lunchtime, we had a food stop here too. We then piled into the car to head back to the ferry, with Paul giving us a whistle stop tour through the city centre. It was quite nice to see another big rural city with all the great old colonial buildings, and some cool modern designs nestled between them. Pete and I decided we would try to head over for a day after Race Week to have a good look around and climb Castle Hill.
On returning to the island, we found that Will and Lindy had been hard at work again, having scrubbed the decks and packed the spinnaker. They texted that they had now gone for lunch and a snorkel whilst waiting to move into their unit. Then we had calls and texts from Trent and Karyn, and Choppa and Fran, to say they would be on the 1415 ferry. We had a swim in the pool to cool down from the hot afternoon sun and to pass some time, until it was ok to have a drink! As we swam, Trent and Karyn came to join us, and we retired back to the boat, where Pete went up the mast to attach the new cheek block for the pole uphaul. Once that was completed we all sat and chatted over drinks and nibbles, and Clare, Paul, Mike, Phil, Bec and Emma also came to join the now 8 strong WDS party.
It was lovely to see Fran and Choppa again, especially as I haven’t seen them since we left in April. It was also exciting to have our racing crew coming together again after such a long break, especially knowing that we had at least the first three days of racing in beautiful conditions – sunshine, 15-20 knots of breeze on beautiful Cleveland Bay.
Race day one was a sparkling day, with the 15-20 knots as expected, perfect for a race across the bay to Cape Cleveland and back. Unfortunately we were a little too keen at the start, and had to find space to recross the line, but we did ok after this, holding a relatively good position upwind, and maintaining it downwind, back to the finish. We were very pleased with a fifth, which meant our handicap shouldn’t be moved too much. Never a Dull Moment, our sister ship (though modified with a carbon rig and different keel) had a great race to come first, but we knew their handicap would move.
Race day two was a carbon copy of day one, and the race office made the decision to hold the Round the Island Race whilst conditions were conducive. This started with short beat to windward, then a spinnaker hoist with a long reach almost to Townsville. We had been lucky enough to secure an additional crew member for the day, and Steve proved invaluable, having sailed extensively with local boat Zoe. He was able to pass on really useful tactical information about tidal movement and wind changes, that helped us get into a great position, particularly on the very tight reach up the western side of the island. Once past Bay Rock, we dropped the kite and settled in a for a long work across the top of the island, before a slight bear away as we rounded Orchid Rocks. The angle of the breeze eased enough for a spinnaker about a half mile from the finish, but the tactical call was to hold on to the headsail, as we were confident in our fleet position. This paid off as we finished the day with a third.
After racing, we had a great night out at a local restaurant, the Bikini Tree, together with the crew from Pilgrim, everyone letting their hair down, knowing we had a rest day on Sunday. We spent the Lay Day at Picnic Bay, which was a fun day out, with a band at the local surf club. Late in the afternoon, it was agreed we would have an inaugural pier jump, and a heap of us headed to the end of the pier to jump in. As ever, it took me ages to force myself to make the jump, but eventually I did, joining the rest of the mob in the water for the swim to the ladder. We ended the day with a bit of mermaiding in the pool at Peppers, then some food on the deck, before calling it an early night in preparation for two races on Monday.
Race day three dawned calm with a forecast of only a light sea breeze. The Race committee kept us ashore for an extra hour, before we had to head out into the bay. As we left the marina, the breeze did start to come in and we ended up sailing just one race, of around 20 miles. We were quite relieved not to have to do two races as everyone was pretty tired by the end of the race, only just managing to recover from the big day out on Sunday. Nevertheless, we returned to dock and had champagne as we celebrated another third place. This moved us into second position in the overall championship, which was pretty good considering we were basically sailing our house around the race course against some serious race boats!
That evening, there was a reception for skippers and sponsors at the host club, Townsville Yacht Club. Pete and I headed off with Clare and Paul, Lance and Cammi and all the other skippers and sponsors on the ferry over to Townsville. It was a bit of fun, and nice to dress up a bit and chat to some other skippers. We were pretty tired when we got back and heard the crew had all gone to bed early, so we went back to WDS, but Pete had invited everyone back for drinks, so we ended up not getting to bed til midnight, after we farewelled the last guest!
With a bright eyed and bushy tailed crew, raring to go in the morning, Pete and I were very grateful for a shore based postponement until 1130, as we waited for the sea breeze to fill in. With the boat prepared and ready by 0930, we decided to hit the pool to keep cool until we had news of a proposed start time. Fortuitously, Lorna who was doing pit for us, is a physiotherapist by trade, and took us through some fun aquarobics to warm us up for racing! We decided that with Lindy and Jane doing daily decathlons (cycling to and from the boat, followed by a swim), the addition of the aquarobics definately made this a health retreat rather than a regatta, and so the Magnetic Island Health Retreat for WDS crew was born. We got a mention in the daily wrap for our noted healthy activities, particularly the aquarobics warm up! Eventually we got on to the water to race, and were set a short course, in which we thought we had done ok. However as we finished, we were asked to stand by to have the second race run, as the breeze had come in. We were pretty tired from having sailed hard for two hours in the hot sun already, but due to the healthy pre race activities we were able to rally for the second race.
We made it back to the dock by 1630, with all the other divisions having settled into cooling off by the pool hours ago, but we had a drink while we waited on the results. The first race placed us a disappointing twelfth, but the second race gave us another third. As we were debating where we sat in the championship with one more race to go, and what might happen to our handicap, Pete got a text message to say there had been a mistake in one of the boats handicaps, and revised results were issued. We move up one place in each race – and were now leading the championship by five points! Needless to say we were delighted with this very strong position to go into the next day. Only one boat could beat us by winning the last race, Little Nico, and we hoped we could maintain our great momentum. That night we owned the karaoke evening on the deck, and stole the show with “Delilah” and “Love Shack”! For those who are interested in torture, you may find video evidence of our prowess on Facebook!
Wednesday, final day of racing, was a carbon copy of Tuesday, with another shore based postponement until 1130. Again we retired to the pool for Lorna’s aquarobics, even eating lunch before we were finally called to the start at around 1230. The race committee again set a shorter course, but this one had two very long tight reaches, which unfortunately hugely favoured our main competition. However, we sailed hard and managed to reel in the four boats that were usually ahead of us, and put distance on the rest of our fleet. We were very pleased to overtake our sister ship on the second spinnaker leg, and also to pass the two Farr 40s, despite them getting back past us on the beat to the finish. We thought we had done well, but we knew Little Nico had won the day, and all would depend on how the rest of the fleet were placed.
As we opened our post race champagne, we were incredibly disappointed to see the result, which placed us twelfth in the last race, and meant that overall, we would finish second, and not the first we had hoped for. However we did rally, celebrating the great regatta we had sailed so well in, the beautiful weather we had been blessed with and the fact that our mobile home, with Bimini and solar panels and just 4 sails, had beaten a lot of other racing boats with stripped out interiors and twenty different sail choices! We were also delighted to win the prize for the best dressed boat and crew, as well as getting our second overall prize, and needless to say we partied long and hard at the presentation on the deck at Peppers. We managed to get on the windowsill again and gave our rendition of “Love Shack” with the excellent choreography by Trent. Eventually we were required to move to the balcony, where we continued to dance and sing with the Pilgrim crew and many other crews who felt that we were where the party was at!
It has once again been a fabulous regatta and anyone who has not done Maggie should really get up here. The sailing is spectacular, in turquoise water, with blue sky, sunshine and temperatures in the mid to high twenties. Not a single item of wet weather gear was required the whole week, and while Sydney and Melbourne were shivering in near freezing temperatures, we were forced to head to the pool to cool down before racing! It’s a magic event, so relaxed and friendly, embraced by the locals and enjoyed by all. We are sad that it’s over, but very happy that we don’t have to rush away, and now have some time to explore Maggie and Townsville.