The team chartered Venture a Hanse 400 and was made up of Jan Fielding – head trim & spinnaker braces, Julie Cutler – head & spinnaker trim, Tony Hammond – mainsail trim, Jim Oosterweghel – foredeck and grinder, David Casley timer & navigator, Ian Lodewyckx – foredeck and Phil Grove (RSYS) helm.
On midday Tuesday we picked up Venture from her home mooring and motored round to the event venue and laid a mooring anchor. Our on board inspection of Venture, which we later found out had been laid up for the past 7 months and had just been sold to a new owner, to be mechanically sound, clean inboard but with a bent spinnaker pole mast fitting which we subsequently snapped when we tried to straighten.
Wednesday, the day prior to racing, we scheduled for race practice and at midday with the pole repaired we set out. Boat rigged and sails set we familiarised ourselves with the vessel. Time now to bring up the spinnaker and get some practice with the 150sq meter symmetrical spinnaker, braces and gybing with a pole that extended 1 meter beyond the forestay with a crew that have plenty of asymmetrical spinnaker experience but limited big boat symmetrical experience with braces etc. NO SPINNAKER ON BOARD so back to our venue mooring to have the hull scrubbed as we found she still had the crustacean entrees of a seafood restaurant still attached and get ready for the race briefing and opening night party.
Thursday and the first day of racing, early start scheduled for that elusive spinnaker practice. Big queues at the pier to catch a long tail out to the boat and a 1 hour motor to the regatta start line. – no time for spinnaker practice. First race windward & return course - 2 sausages and our spinnaker training. Good start, nice beat up to the top mark, round the mark, spinnaker up, the inevitable gybe to come. As expected more practice was required and getting the large and distorted, forestay wrapped spinnaker on deck had its moments. 2nd spinnaker run was planned without a gybe so a run down to the finish line was easy except that just prior to the drop the spinnaker bag went overboard, so back to pick it up and now to the finish line, a quick look at the SIs and there is the Committee boat and a Start/Finish line and another Finish line on the other side of the Committee boat so we sail through the Start/Finish line and to be sure, to be sure back on to the course and through the other Finish line - Crew are glad that race is over and of course we came last! Second race that day was a 1 3/4 hour around the islands short course. We get line honours, are 25 minutes ahead of the next boat on corrected time and 1st place. A pedestal presentation at the Party night.
Friday, a 3 hour around the islands race. Line honours, 19 minutes ahead on corrected time and a 1st place. The Crew are chuffed with their 2 wins and are equal first in our Class. No party this night so it’s a mini bus hire and into town to a seafood restaurant.
Saturday, light winds, 5 hours on the water, racing abandoned at 1330 hrs, Crew overdosed with sun and another big party night with pedestal presentations for the previous days race.
Sunday, the last day of racing and only 1 race scheduled. A Class win is possible even with a 46 point increase in our handicap. Light winds so we anchor off one of the islands for 2 ½ hours awaiting a postponed start and the Crew are prepared with bathers. Back to the start line for an around the islands short course. Light winds prevail as we make a slow beat to the first island, against a tidal run. We take a wide berth of the island and tack around, not far enough as the tide sweeps us in to the island. 3 more attempts after sailing in the opposite direction are needed so we can clear the island. We are well ahead of our class fleet. Half way around the course the race is shortened at the next island. We cross the line after 3 hours of racing with line honours but are not ahead enough to beat the other equal first competitor, she beats us by 4 minutes on corrected time. 4 races with 1 drop and we came second in our Class. Big final party night with Miss Thailand (2010) giving out the prizes so the male members of the Crew were eager to get up on stage for our pedestal presentation. The night ended with a team water fight – with Jan Fielding voted the winner!
Was we robbed – who knows, we all had fun, plenty of suntanned bodies and sunburned knees. Most of the Crew a little overweight from limitless food and booze, a learning experience for all team members and all eager to do it again next year.