Should have taken the chopper


Back in the 1970s, in an effort to spice up the offshore series a bit, the Club chartered a helicopter to drop a mark inside the Wairau River in Cloudy Bay, just south of Port Underwood, for the fleet to sail around. It was a great expense, caused a bit of controversy, and not repeated. Here’s Paul Hastings’ memory of the race.

I sailed with Brian Cardiff on his Lidgard “Kidnapper”, for many years, as his cockpit and sail-trimmer, and all-around dogsbody, completely uncomplainingly, and uncritically, as you would expect of me.

The first race we sailed to a mark in the Wairau River, took place with a bloody good navigator press-ganged into sailing with us.

On the start-line, as we tacked backwards and forwards, our navigator roared up the companionway “where’s the bloody tide tables?!!”

I looked at Cardiff (Tide tables are Captain’ responsibility to provide.)

” Shit” said Cardiff, ” must have left them on the bench at home!”

I recaptured the initiative, and respectfully requested him to lay us alongside a yacht in front of us, that yacht was skippered by another good bugger – completely reliable.

To my called-request ” What time tide change in Tory?” Came back a wavering “13.21” which I yelled down the companionway to the navigator.

He duly called ” Steer direct for Tory” which we did.

After about 20 minutes on that course, I asked our Navigator “Are you sure of our course, as all the other bloody boats in the fleet are diverging from us, sailing almost due south!”

It was then that he uttered the words which will be his epitaph on his tombstone – ” all I can say is, it’s effing inept navigation on their part!”

We then suffered the indignity of sailing down the coastline from Tory, past every yacht in the fleet and enduring their none too polite hand signals and yells from crew members lining their weather sides, as we proceeded south towards the Wairau mark, and they sailed north, having already rounded the mark!

Bloody hell….you can imagine the shortness of the cockpit conversation!


Paul Hastings


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