Anybody worth their salt knows a broach, and I wouldn’t really be writing this up if it wasn’t for the excellent sequence of photographs of the event.
Back in 2006 I entered my Davidson 28 Beaumaris in an Island Bay race. On board with me were my mates Matt Conway working the forward end, and Sean Burns – a big unit – to work the lines aft.
Perfect conditions prevailed, with a northerly lurking around the 15-20 knot mark, and we carried the number one with a full main, and as we bore away for the heads, put up the big kite. As we neared the heads, the usual swell was there, about 2-3 metres, faces somewhat on the steep side, but gentle with it, with long backs.
As we approached Moaning Minnie, we hoisted the Genoa and put the pole forward. Matt went up to ping the kite, and Sean went to leeward to gather it in under the boom. Easy-peasy.
Except, as you can expect, Sean’s weight put us on a heel, we crested a swell and with the pole forward, went into a massive broach down the back of the swell with all the power a big kite, number one genoa, and full main can provide.
The pole was high and Matt struggled to reach it, and I had the tiller up under my chin with no bite. Then came a fair bit of shouting ahead as it turned out we were about to T-Bone Carl Jackson’s Marangi. With the tiller up I had no steerage at all, so opted to try the other way and round up completely. I dropped the tiller just in time, the hull gripped the water, and the knuckle of our bow passed over Carl’s head and Marangi’s transom. They passed on and we stalled.
It was kind of weird – we were facing plumb to weather but there was no flogging sails or bouncing of the main – probably sheltered by a swell. I brought the tiller back up, we were lifted up on another swell, and we bore off sweetly, missing Moaning Minnie by a couple of feet in the process.
Marangi sailed on, we dropped the kite and did same. Gucci was passing to leeward at the time and saw the whole thing. I remember their open mouths, followed by laughter and someone saying something like “that was a bit of fun!”.
Note: some nautical terms have been omitted from this narrative to protect the sensitivities of the innocent