Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé …
But on this Bastille Day 2018, glory for whom?
Three yachts had a chance to win the Autumn Series: Martela, One Mo’ Time, and Breva. There was also the question as to whether Breva would beat enough yachts in this race to confirm its lead and win the Club Championship for 2017-18.
And what part would the weather play in this final race of the season? Surely not another day of light winds on the Harbour? As it turned out, there were times when any wind, even light, would have been a blessing, and even when there was wind, the Harbour had more holes than a cannon-blasted Tricolour.
But the drama started before the race even began when, about an hour before the start, when most skippers and crews were psyching themselves for the upcoming battle with concerns about which spinnaker to use and the location of the bottle opener, Cap’n Charlie called to say that Wherever was failing to proceed due to a slipping fan belt, so no start or finishing boat available. Plan B – a radio start – was implemented immediately, and a course determined.
Cap’n Richard on the scratch boat, Sapphire, using a cunning plan of sailing slowly earlier in the season and thus maximising his handicap advantage, pulled out all stops for this race, even importing an interstate sailing advisor to help keep Sapphire ahead of the pack of yachts baying at its heels. With a 30-minute head start over its nearest rival, Megisti Blue, and a 54-minute head start over Martela, all it had to do was to keep one second of that lead over these and all other boats in order to win the race. Meanwhile, for his part, Cap’n Bob on Megisti Blue had decided to include a few weeks’ vacation in Hawaii as part of his preparation, but was now back, relaxed and tanned as ever, and looking for a win, or at least, looking for the wind.
Cap’n Peter on Crooz went well after leaving the start, but unfortunately developed an attraction for the top mark at Lady Bay and was stuck there when not only the BPYC fleet but another club fleet were attempting to round that mark, which included rounding Crooz as well. It can neither be confirmed nor denied that sightseeing by some crew members on Crooz, in the vicinity of Lady Bay, led to this dilemma, but it should be pointed out that given the chilliness in the air that day, there was little to see.
The first return leg from Lady Bay saw some closing up of the fleet. On advice from his ever-vigilant crew, Cap’n Duncan on One Mo’ Time decided to outsmart the fleet by chasing an apparent line of wind near to Point Piper and around the back of Clark Island. It turned out that apparent was the key word, and the long way ’round was not the quick way home.
Once again, the course had to be shortened, and after careful consideration and suggestions from Cap’n David on Martela and Cap’n Carl on Blue Sky, who were having their own race within a race, it was decided that a new finish line between the Eastern Channel AS mark and Wedding Cake was the place to end the saga that was Race 8. For Megisti Blue and Crooz, even this was a place too far and unfortunately they had to retire to return to their moorings and tender service. The remainder battled on against the conditions and each other, and the shortened finish line welcomed Sapphire, Blue Sky, Martela, Breva and One Mo’ Time, in that order. The margin between first and second, and between second and third, was only 30 seconds in each case.
As a result, Martela was the winner of the Autumn Series, and Breva the winner of the BPYC Club Championship, for 2017-18. Congratulations particularly to David Swain and Paul Wilson, the respective owners of these two yachts, and to their crews, but indeed to all competitors over the season for their individual achievements.
In the 2017-18 season there were many highlights, many funny times, a number of difficult times due to weather, sad times due to the passing of members, but above all, good camaraderie on the water and at our traditional club house and great supporter, the Blues Point Hotel. Like others, I look forward to the start of the 2018-19 season.