Written by Sarah Stevenson
16 December 2022 was a calm, almost windless, and overcast day. Not ideal conditions for seasoned sailors but this greenhorn, who’s only done three Gin Series races and an Island Bay race, was ecstatic at the low wind (sorry Geoff!) We set off from Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club at 10am, redoing the start as we suspected we were over. We weren’t alone – three of us (The Guarantee, Rascal and Gucci) went back just to be sure. As our skipper said at the time, if you’re not over the line now and then you’re not living on the edge!
A great crossing gave us a stunning view of the South Coast, though the wind was coming from the northwest and being in the back of the boat I was facing the wrong way. We lead most of the fleet most of the way, while watching Blink sail off to the horizon, and paced ourselves with Rascal and Laissez Faire. The low/variable wind made for plenty of sail changes on the way over – which I earnestly tried to learn from. The A5 was super impressive for the 3min it was up … I sat diligently on the runners – great to have a job I know I can do and that’s all mine! We got to Tory Channel around 2.30pm, pretty decent timing, having taken 4.5hrs, and an amazing experience.
We made our way through to Ngāruru Bay and the raft up of 6 boats set themselves up for the night. Rum flowed accompanied by many calls of “permission to come aboard?” I met so many awesome new friends!! Deb from Gucci is an absolute treasure, along with young Cam and Sam, and Tim who was off to do the Sydney to Hobart race the following week (respect, mate!) New friends on The Guarantee too, including a lovely young Irishman, and George who Phil went to school with – NZ is a village!
We weren’t racing on the way back, just a delivery run – not enough wind (sorry Geoff!) But we had the most amazing sail past the South Coast, facing the right way this time, with history and background stories, pods of dolphins, and that deep relaxing serenity that comes from being on the water under sail. We were home by midday – a hot bath, a cuppa tea and a liedown and I was good as new. And immediately searching TradeMe for a boat to buy…