First yacht race…ever

I got invited to crew on a trailer yacht racing in the winter series held by BOPTYS despite my warnings of not knowing how to race a boat.

Sunday came around and the forecast was bad (IMO) 10knots southerly dying out to variable 5 knots in the morning.
I text the skipper with my concerns that we will be drifting around in a big puddle, should I bring my fishing rod? Is it even worth going….

Skip said “This isn’t some over paid prima donna’s racing, these are real sailors and the show must go on”. I was given instructions to “BE AT THE RAMP BY 10AM”.

I had tricked Paul into coming with me, at least skip could yell at him while I hide in the cab.

We arrived on time, at Okawa bay boat ramp on the edge of a flat calm lake Rotoiti. It was a beautiful day, blue sky, warm and a light breeze holding in.

Race briefing was held, I pretended to understand and then took photos of the instructions.

We motored out through the channel amongst the fleet.

The signal was given for the 5 minute countdown to the start.

Skip ran through all the ropes and controls and technical bits and pieces, it mostly went over my head, I was thinking how simple sailing is when just cruising vs racing. And that I must need a lot more control things on my boat.

I was quite familiar with how a rudder works so made my way down to that end of the boat, grabbed the tiller and held on to it all day until we got back to the dock.

Skip gave the instructions to hoist the main sail, ready the jib, adjust the Cunningham etc etc so I gripped the tiller tighter and tried to look busy steering. 

The sails went up, motor off and we tacked back and forth threading through the other boats as we all  waited for the timer to let us cross the start line. 

30 seconds till start and we couldn’t have been in a worse spot, all the others where coming at us on starboard tack as we closed in towards the line, the timing was perfect but unfortunately the give way rules were against us and we had to turn away and let everyone go through, Skip called tack and we chased everyone else as they escaped around the first mark.

Soon after spinnakers were being raised and boats were disappearing into the distance. We managed to overtake one boat just after the first mark, I thought they must have lots of weed dragging on the keel because our start wasn’t flash.

Skip and Paul were soon preparing for our own spinnaker raising.

I sat driving the boat and taking pictures, far to busy to help. Plus this is the first time I’ve been on a boat with a spinnaker, I was quite happy to just watch and learn.

The spinnaker bellowed full and we took off in pursuit. We caught up and past the Noelex 30 that had luckily left their spinnaker at home.

We powered on down the lake heading for the top mark, reeling in some of the other boats. 

A few hundred meters from the top mark the wind drops right off and changes direction, causing the spinnaker to collapse and almost back fill. Almost Simultaneously the fleet drops the spinnakers and we all set in for the crawl towards the bouy. 

We tried to capitalise on the slightest puff of a breeze with full concentration.

The light wind had gone so light at one stage we just sat waiting to move, I wished I had bought my fishing rod.

We argued over which way we were supposed to round the bouy. My phone had the photo of the course but it was inside the cabin and I dared not let the tiller go with fear of not getting it back again.

We eventually got around and slowly crawled back towards the finish line beyond site in The distance. 

A wind line appeared a couple hundred meters away and we all wished it would stretch up to meet us, but it was like a mirage. The closer we got the further it appeared to be. 

Eventually we got into the wind and everyone started to take off on different tacks searching for the best breeze and line to pass the next bouys. We tacked our way up the course like the well oiled machine we had become.

Eventually crossing the line and congratulating ourselves on a job well done despite the majority of boats finishing before us. 

A couple of days later the results were in. On corrected time we got first place in the division by 3 seconds!!!!! 

Skip took all the credit for the win, but he only gave 120% out there, I think it was the expert helmsmanship. 

We put the boat on the trailer and enjoyed burgers and sausages from the club BBQ. Thanks heaps to BOPTYS it was a great day and an awesome introduction to racing. 

Author: gulfwanderers

Just an average kiwi bloke

3 thoughts on “First yacht race…ever”

  1. So pleased you enjoyed the day. Talk skipper to coming over to Ngaroto for the weekend of 8th and 9th July. Two days sailing and socialising. You won’t regret it

    Liked by 1 person

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