As you may be aware, Top Gear has tamed a racing driver, know as the Stig. He's a racing driver not a sailor. Imagine a verbose Stig. That's a racing sailor is. In human, incapable of understating things like ferries, fishermen, the traffic lights lifting bridges etc. Shorn of human emotions, an ego in oil skins.
Months of chilled out world cruising then back to racing and its obscure arguments, shouting and aggression. I've missed that. Does get rid of any pent up aggression.
How to Race (Matt and Tom style).
Well to race you need a safety certificate. For that you find which yacht club's doing a safety inspection then park outside it hoping they don't know your not a member, It worked, apart from the sun cream, yep Auzzie, safety certs require sunscreen.
Who knew sun screen had an expiry date?
Get out the bits for the safety inspector, life jackets with whistles, anchor that appears to be made from tin foil filled with helium but is stamped "14 kilo". Hmmmm... After some shopping for in date sun cream, head for Lunch, Mei and her Brother have been waiting for us in the fish market for some time...
Get up for the race, leave Mei to have a lie in, motor up the harbour, pass Steve and Katrin coming the other way in another boat as you go under the harbour bridge. Realise you need more than 2 people on the boat to actually enter the race. Call Mei, divert boat to a dock near Mei and Matt's flat where a large sign says "no pickups/dropoffs" pick Mei up as crew.
It is at this point it became clear Matt didn't know where the yacht club who's running the race actually is. Find out with a couple of GPS enabled phones and google maps. Arrive late, Find out the race isn't till 1pm.
Put the mainsail cover back on so the handicapper doesn't realise you've brand new carbon reinforced kevlar mainsail.
Immediately start bolting the bits required for flying the code 0 back on. This being matt, all the bits are in a cardboard box, millions of bits all jumbled up.
Decide that there's not much wind and feverishly start bolting on the swivelling bowsprit. I device originally devised by the Spanish Inquisition* and engineered by some brummie from British Leyland at about quarter to 5 on a friday. Its a death trap.
Realise your not going to get the spinnaker back on and start leaving the dock. Frantically tie the half rigged pole to the rail. Run the sheets for the code 0. Hoist main.
The only way this can be done efficiently (I.E. the start sequence is already under way) is for both me and Matt to run around like blue arsed flys. All the Brighton Drinking Club members will be intimately familiar with me and Matt engaged in engineering projects on the start line. Now scale that up to a 38 ft boat. Obviously you can't reach and steer at the same time like you can in a dinghy, fortunately we had Mei for that. She can helm quite well - I think she may have been thrown in at the deep end by Matt before.
Matt grabs the helm I grab the jib Halyard. Mei's dispatched below to "Pull the knob gently" to stop the engine. And were off. We actually have a cracking start, either that or we're over. Its fine if your not as over as "Balmain Tiger" right? Its clear right off the line that the new mainsail is good. We pull away from most of the fleet. Every one in fact except Balmain Tiger, mind you she's a s**t hot Flying Tiger 10. A very new shipping crate supplied Chinese sports boat. Engage Stig mode. Shout at fuffed tacks. Attempt to ram fishing boats, scare tourists who having their photo's take at the opera house by letting the shadow of your rig pass over them. Meet Steve and Katrin coming the other way with full sail out sailing so high on the wind Harry Potter would think you had a wand with the boat heeled well over in no wind at all. All in all we did quite well. I helmed round the top island while Matt did the Code 0. Not sure what (if any) book recommends running by the lee with a poled out code 0 but it worked for us. We couldn't hold the other sports boat down wind though. Much to Mei's annoyance (yes Mei was in Stig mode too, like a Top Gear Celebrity in a reasonably priced car). There's not a lot we could do against a tinny little sports boat with a spinnaker bigger than Island Kea's.
And across the line.
Stop for a beer, admire the rock we hit last time, then attempt to save Matt's marriage. Now a "borrowed" half submerged dinghy (it leaks a lot, less than Matt's) full of empty VB tinnies is not Mei's idea of a nice way home. Mei and Matt's place over looks the posh part of central Sydney. Darling harbour. Home of the Maritime Museum, Zoolet, Aquarium bars restaurants fountains and crappy modern sculptures. Its also home to the cruise industry, whale watch boats, ferries, paddle steamers (they don't actually steam, being diesel, but that's OK cos the paddles aren't connected to the engines either but the motion of the boat makes them go round so that's OK) and Captain Cock cruises. These medium sized cruise liners bum around the harbour, stopping erratically and unpredictably, generally annoying the hell out of yachties. Payback time they've a dock by the flat and its half empty (were optimists, the dock is half empty).
Short walk home for Mei
Mei asks "whats the plan". I say "get off the dock quick before someone shouts at us"
Back to the mooring for Tea and Medals.
* I bet you weren't expecting the Spanish Inquisition