Race 4 of the Spring Series had it all. If you ignore the lack of a committee boat, and the fact that 5 of the fleet didn’t make the start, that is.
In the absence of Charlie and Wherever, who was last heard of rushing down a mountain with two planks of wood strapped to his feet and a bevvy of beauties swooning in his wake, the dulcet and incomprehensible tones of our Vice Commodore were called into action, with a radio start the order of the day.
With the help of Google Translate, a slide rule and a ready reckoner, the other skippers were able to make sense of the countdown and flaccid horn signals emanating from Attila, and the race got underway on time.
Valhalla was first to depart, closely followed by Crooz, both of whom made stately progress in around 5 knots of breeze while looking anxiously over their shoulders at the massive frontal system whose clouds were lurking ominously over the city.
Paying no heed to the weather, or perhaps distracted by the absence of reality TV discussion on board, Attila commenced their launch sequence with 30 seconds to go by hoisting their kite, only to find themselves becalmed 2 boat lengths short of the line as the weather system paused to gather itself before unleashing its fury on the course.
Starting two minutes later, One Mo’ Time had originally intended to cross the line under kite also, but saw the error of their ways and hoisted their jib just in time for the squall to arrive with 20-25 knots of wind and torrential rain. They streaked over the start line to the sound of Peter on Attila gently encouraging his crew to lower the kite and hoist the genoa just whenever it was convenient for them to do so.
By the time Blue Sky had started, visibility had reduced to 200 metres, the rain was stinging like hailstones, and the entire fleet was charging down the course faster than Ross disappears from the bar when its his round.
Valhalla were first round the turning mark with Crooz hot on their heels. Rory seemed temporarily disorientated, perhaps with giddiness about finally having some weather suited to Valhalla, and failed to notice Crooz’s on a collision course, necessitating last second evasive manouevers by Peter Kent. Miraculously, Crooz avoided disaster and took the lead on the beat down to Shark Island.
In the meantime, One Mo’ Time rounded the Sow and Pigs mark in third, promptly forgot about the Eastern channel mark, and headed back up the course. Over on Attila, who were just 20 seconds behind, the eagle eyed crew had spotted Duncan’s error, and asked the skipper if they should do the polite thing and alert OMT to their mistake.
Always thoughtful and full of Corinthian spirit, Bernard replied, “Let’s give them a chance to work it out for themselves - we wouldn’t want to embarrass them by pointing out their mistake.
Happily for all concerned, OMT did indeed work it out, and quickly threw in a tack, rewarding Attila’s generosity of spirit by forcing them to duck their stern in a classic port/starboard.
As the wind started to soften, Attila eased past One Mo Time on the next leg, and with Blue Sky stealthily closing the gap, the fleet found itself compressed and becalmed in the lee of Shark Island.
The next 30 minutes or so were spent agonizingly drifting, with Crooz the only boat to have made it round the mark, but they did their best to help the rest of the fleet by getting caught in an eddy and being spun around back towards the island.
As the wind slowly filled in again, Attila and Blue Sky were best placed to take advantage, and they headed down to Fort Denison nose to tail, neck and neck, and having the occasional polite inter-boat discussion about the Racing Rules of Sailing. Less than a boat length apart as they went round both Pinch Gut and Navy Buoy 4, they finally split tacks on the final leg and sailed to opposite sides of the course. When they crossed 30 metres short of the line, Attila had the edge, and took the win by 10 seconds.
In the battle for third, Crooz squeezed out One Mo’ Time by about 20 seconds, and Valhalla came home a valiant, but still grinning, fifth.
In the pub afterwards, it seemed like the entire race was could be summed up by Crowded House’s greatest hits.
“That really was four seasons in one day”, said Jen from Attila. As Duncan sobbed into his beer at his receding chances of winning the series, Peter was quick to reassure him. Don’t Dream It’s over, he said. We may be like a distant sun right now, but you’ll probably have the Weather With You for the next race. You’re definitley not locked out.”
“You’re so mean to me” replied Duncan. Everything is Good for You. I feel like I have nails in my feet”
I better be home soon, said Peter Kent to Donna. “Lets be together alone in our own private universe” and leave these two to bicker among themselves.