Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Map

Does this not speak for itself... cool man...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Kickin' It Old School EA

This is the equivalent of the Big Bang of Escaped Aussies sailing, the "real" birth: the infamous Lady Godiva outing of 1998.

Under JK’s (James Kennedy's) leadership, the boat contested the 1998 Hayman Island Bigboat series, a regatta that used to be a pre-curser to Hamilton for seriously large and competitive yachts, which was raced at the five star Hayman Island resort in the north of the Whitsunday Islands.

Lady Godiva is a Swan 65, and in the eighties was one of the most competitive racing Swans in the world. She was on an extended Pacific cruise in the ownership of a very colourful ex Wall St lawyer and his (third) wife.

JK assembled a crew befitting the history of the boat. In the crew’s upper echelon, were two ex-Americas Cup yachtsman and the legendary Barney Walker who had just returned from the Whitbread Round the World Race (now known as the Volvo RTW). Barney drove the starts muttering words to the effect of “she’s a little slower to respond than a Whitbread 60”. At the other end of the crew spectrum (and the other end of the boat) the crew included Kieran Duck at Mid Bow, and Jamie Hastie at Bow.

Pre-regatta preparations included the removal of a large oil painting and a mountain of kid skin upholstered cushions from the saloon, a full size domestic washing machine and a cappuccino machine. However, the owner who smoked Cohiba cigars by the box, insisted that his cigar humidor remained on board.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Escaped Aussies take second

As part of the lead up to the Hamilton Island regatta, the few Australian based crew have been honing their skills in the Audi Winter Series on Sydney Harbour.

In the last race of the series, Stu, Rob and Kieran took out “Blue Moon”, Kieran’s Beneteau 40.7. The sky was threatening and the challenge of having only three crew on a 40ft boat in a building breeze was looking ominous. We were kitted out ready for the weather to turn – black beanies and wet weather jackets were the fashion statement of the day.

Everything was going smoothly until eight minutes from the start when there was a scramble to get the headsail sheets re-run, keep the boat steady in the building breeze and get back to the start line in time. We were a bit late for the start but the building and swinging breeze resulted in a single tack to the first mark. Along the way we had to avoid HMAS Parramatta and HMAS Melbourne who were parked in the harbour because most of the dock at Garden Island Naval Base was taken up by the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk and its posse.

The breeze was constant around 12 knots and we started to overhaul the boats ahead, getting up into fifth position by the third mark (in a fleet of fourteen). We managed to climb to fourth by the halfway point with Rob trimming the headsail and Stu on the main.

After the fifth mark we were able to just pass in front of HMAS Melbourne without having to tack and got into second place. As we passed the next mark the breeze dropped off. Being a heavier charter boat, Blue Moon does not perform well in the light stuff. Over the next twenty minutes we were overtaken to put us back into third, and could see the rest of the fleet closing in. Some quick foredeck work saw us maintain our pace and hold onto third spot as we rounded the second last mark.

The breeze then filled back in (along with some cold, driving rain), and with a couple of well executed tacks we were back up into second spot. Coming to the last mark we were just ahead and picking our way through a fleet on port tack. As we ducked the last boat we almost didn't make the mark but we were able to use the momentum of the boat to get us around before freeing up for the run to the finish. We held off some fast finishing boats to hold our position on the last leg to finish the final race in second place.

After the cold and wet finish to the race we are really looking forward to the warmth of Hamilton – although the beers and wedges at the club went down well.

Next major outing for the Escaped Aussies – the shake down sail on the Wednesday before the regatta.