Saturday, June 20, 2009, 04:47 PMIt’s now here. The eagerly awaited race weekend is starting, and the crew are back in action for the final time. Thursday evening was quiet, the usual hand over and provisioning, followed by a light bite in the local eat all you can Chinese rinsed down with a small glass of house red, then off to bed for what I was going to find out later was to be my best nights kip for sometime.
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Posted by Administrator
The morning came and it was a pleasant start as the next wave of crew met up with us for breakfast. With our bodies conditioned and our minds clearly focused on the task in hand we set off to give the poor old girl a vigorous shake down. The day had gone well and we set and tested her until we were completely satisfied, so we headed off directly to Cowes for some R n R before the big event. Then it hit us! We had not covered the scenario about what happens if the Skipper is unable to command his vessel – so I quickly fell down the companion way smashed my shoulder hard into the floor and screamed in pain – how realistic was this. Mark (Aka Spam Hands –ask Jimbo) leaped into action and dealt with the situation faultlessly, and with no prompting from me, who by now had gone very white. Jimbo was in his element by politely asking fellow yachtsmen to move aside as we glided effortlessly into the berth so the paramedics could meet with me. It was a brief meeting resulting in a ride around the island in an ambulance, a photo session with some locals, some drug taking, a cab ride and still back in time for tea. The evening was a sober affair reflecting on the day’s events and how I was going race with a broken shoulder. Once this was sorted it was lights out ready for the big day.
I awoke to the smell of bacon cooking I must have died and gone to heaven, well I felt like I died anyway. After breakfast we all got ready and then I realized that now porting a new piece of clothing I could short cut the queue at the facilities while others danced in line. We slipped our mooring said our prayers, and patrolled the start line. I had the VHF on loud...3, 2, 1, Bang we were off. It didn’t take long to settle into a good rhythm, and we started to pick off fellow competitors one by one. Actually it did not take us long at all to pass a fellow club member who started much earlier. The needles were insight and the kite was prepped, launched professionally and pulling well as we rounded – a little closer than I have ever been before. The backside was an awesome sight and with some dinghy sailing techniques put to good use as we saw off many a yacht in some close quarter manoeuvring. Jimbo was strangely very alive this time unlike his noted absence from the last trip around the back of the island. Things were going well and we were in high sprits, this allowed Smudge, our helm, who did not leave his post for all the race chance to hone his communication skills with other racers. Bembridge ledge cardinal mark loomed up fast and we shook off a couple of yachts to get the inside line at the mark and take advantage of the position. Carefully picking our way across Ryde sands, we were now on the homeward leg and with the finish in sight we dug deep and went for it crossing the line in just over 10hrs 42mins. Back to the berth we headed and with dinner on the stove a well deserved meal was consumed while we kept a watchful eye on the results. It worked out 7th in fleet and 201 overall – not bad, so we went off to celebrate with the other crews.
Sunday came round far too fast. We headed off to the prize giving, rubbed shoulders (not mine) with Ben Ainslie and congratulated the winners. It was time to pack up and head back to our home port. The crew parted at this point so we made our fond farewells, so the skeleton crew took the boat back and enjoyed a peaceful sail. We washed down the old girl who had served us so well and quietly drove off with a big grin on all our faces.
We’ll be back!!
[Note from editor. The other Queensmead boat was Vagabond, a Cornish Shrimper sailed by Brian O'Leary and John Griffiths.