The last offshore race of the season was a real challenge – not because of high winds, but because of a lack of them.
There were five boats in the race: The Guarantee, Gucci, Wai-Aniwa, Am Meer, and Illusions. Some of the big girls and boys were either still out of town from the RNI or couldn’t get enough crew.
We left with a good breeze from the north-west but stalled at Sinclair. At one point The Guarantee was last (unheard of) as it flipped and flopped in the rip. Am Meer got a puff and just disappeared over the horizon. Then The Guarantee was blessed, then Gucci.
I had gone in a little closer to shore thinking I could burn the rest off by cutting the corner, but lo, not to be. Gucci was only a hundred meters away but got its own little puff and just glided away. Real frustrating to watch, I can assure you.
We later passed Am Meer further up the coast. They had gone close to Makara and parked. Instead we stayed much further out and followed a distinct line of breeze that seemed to channel down the western side of Mana. Of course we were very diplomatic as we passed: just jumping up and down on the spot and wetting our pants!
I felt a huge soaring of pride as we tacked back towards the coast to find ourselves on the same board as the guns – The Guarantee and Gucci – my hopes only to be dashed when we found a parking lot just metres off the bricks at the north end of Mana.
We eventually got into a breeze, hoisted the MPS, pulled it forward on a starboard pole and quietly began our slide across the Strait. As the sun dipped in the west, out came an exotic meal prepared by Chef Tunch.
Am Meer, sensing our slide into Gomorrah, took the advantaged to slide over the top. That was just too much, so down went the dishes and up went our blood temperatures. We got Am Meer in the end in the dark off Stella Rocks. In virtually no wind, we managed to go over the top to finally enter the Sounds.
It was a huge shock to hear Gucci pull out. They never do. Illusions, still stuck south of Mana had gone, then Am Meer pulled the plug. No one had heard from The Guarantee. Even Maritime Radio was inquisitive.
We tacked, then tacked again. It was excruciatingly calm with us sailing virtually on the power of hope.
I said we should wait an hour. “The land breeze normally fills in around 10,” I said, sounding much more confident than I felt. Finally, at 11 we felt a slight lifting from the south. I beamed as it built to 6 knots. “Yah,” I yelled, my face lighting the dark night with a flush of excitement.
Yeah right, more like it. The “breeze” lasted exactly 20 minutes before dying out absolutely, completely. We were off Motuara Island. It was dark, dark. Am Meer had disappeared and my crew was restless. I could feel the vibes. I started saying dumb things like “I’ll wait another 10 minutes.” In the end, at five to midnight, we packed it in, phoned Maritime Radio and put the donk on.
I was tired. There was a bitter taste in my mouth, but the mood on board lightened. We finally made the Bay of Many Coves Resort by 2am to find The Guarantee, Gucci and Am Meer quietly snoozing.
Over a wonderful breakfast at the resort later in the morning we learnt that The Guarantee had indeed finished, but had taken ages just to cover the final 200 metres to the Kurakura Point finish line. They were the only ones to finish, so completely cleaned up on the cups.
Aye, Roger Foley (Wai-Aniwa)