DB at Hamilton Island Race Week

Hamilton Island Race Week August 19-27 2011

Friday August 19 2011

This morning we finished cleaning up inside “Mandala” and then went on a trial run with Peter H in the afternoon. Everything appears to be ship-shape so we adjourned to enjoy dinner with the family and Peter at the apartments. Very pleased to see Jan and meet Mal who arrived on schedule.

Saturday August 20 2011.

Today is the first race day of the Hamilton Island Race Week and Gerard, Peter and I attended the briefing put on by the race committee at 0830.

The crew for the first few races will be

L to R Gerard, Peter, Jan, Bob and Talia

Gerard Webb                    Skipper and Helm

Peter Haliday                     Tactician and Navigator

Damien Webb                   Foredeck and Spinnaker

Malcolm Ramsay              Mainsheet and winches

Jocelyn and Damien

Talia Webb                          Port winch hand

David Bradley                    Starboard winch hand

David Thompson              Spinnaker pole hand

David Thompson and Talia

Jocelyn Webb                    Winch hand

The course today is the Lindeman Island Course a distance of 23.3nm. For our first race together we did quite well achieving a 7th over the line and 16thoverall on handicap. “Mandala” being a performance yacht with a deeper keel, higher mast and more sail area than a normal Jeanneau 42 has quite a punitive handicap that we have to live with! Several gear failures cost us some time. The genoa halyard shackle broke and …..down came the genoa!

WTF was that!

A very quick recovery using a spare halyard overcame what could have been a much worse result. Great work Damien. Next the beak on the spinnaker pole let go the brace with the result that the spinnaker pole had a mind of its own for a short while and soon after the spinnaker pole clamp on the mast let go with the spinnaker pole shooting up the mast. In both cases Damien and David made quick recoveries. Well done indeed!

Sunday August 21 2011

I attended the briefing at 0830 and listened to the guest speaker Adrianne Callaghan, author of the book “Around the Buoys” and holder of many world records in the world of sailing. Adrianne gave a most impressive talk and I will look out for her book which is sure to be a good read.

We sailed Course 2 today in winds of 15-25 knots and enjoyed very good sailing conditions.

Mandala at eleven knots under spinnaker. Awesome!

Big heavy cruising yachts like “Mandala” love these conditions. “Mandala” reached eleven knots today during a down-wind spinnaker run.

We achieved a very creditable 2nd over the line from a field of 39 contestants in the Cruising 2 division in spite of a few glitches concerning the beak on the spinnaker pole letting go of the “brace”. We need to find out the cause of this anomaly and fix it if we can. After today’s race we lay 6th overall. We would all be very pleased with a top ten result at the end of Race Week.

The amazing Roulettes put on a great show

We all were invited to dinner tonight courtesy of Jocelyn Webb (no relation to Gerard and Jan) who prepared an excellent meal that we enjoyed in her apartment quite close by. Jocelyn has a great job with the Australian Olympic Committee and will be in London with the team in July next year (2012).

Monday August 22 2011

Today was a very heavy day with the wind blowing to 30 knots gusting to 35 knots. It was hard on equipment and crew.

Loving it!

We raced on course 8 today, a distance of 17.5 nm and whereas we finished 3rd across the line, we were placed 20thoverall on handicap! At some stage toward the end of this race when we were tacking down Dent Passage to the finish line the radar mounting brackets on the mast must have broken as when we returned to our berth the radar dome was just hanging off the mast by its umbilical cord.

Damien bringing down the broken radar antenna

Damien went up the mast in the Bosun’s Chair, undid the electrical connections and brought the radar antenna down to the deck where we could see that the mounting brackets had snapped. Later Peter went up in the chair and removed the broken brackets from the mast.

Other boats suffered quite a bit of damage today as we saw broken masts, bent booms and ripped sails. Yacht racing can be a very expensive sport in high winds!

Tuesday August 23 2011

We spent the morning “tuning” the sails and rigging, tightening the headsail halyard, tightened the mainsail leech line and prepared a back-up for the slipping jammer on the 2ndreef line. Our race was scheduled to start at 1105 from the Dent Passage and we were out and getting ready for the start when the race officials ordered all boats to return to their berths and await a further announcement at 1130 hours.

A broken mast

The performance and maxi boats that started earlier had been taking a real hammering in the high winds gusting well over 35 knots with broken and damaged masts, booms and ripped sails. The weather was really bad further south and several fronts were heading our way. In the end cruising boat racing was cancelled for the day and we all sat on the boat and enjoyed a few drinks with the crew. Later David Thompson, Jocelyn and I went to the Yacht Club to watch the very exciting SBs and the very fast 32 footers racing ion the Dent Passage.

The very fast 32 footers in full flight

In the evening we all went to the Steak House for dinner and later we adjourned to the pub. It is a lay day tomorrow so tonight was to be our party night and plenty of other participants had the same idea!

Wednesday August 24 2011.

Today is a lay day when the crews can get some rest and make any necessary running repairs.

Jan Webb our gorgeous hostess for today's extravaganza

It is also the day for the Webb’s now famous “Not the Moet lunch” at the Webb’s apartment. Admission ticket is a bottle of French champagne!

Jocelyn and Katherine at the "Not the Moet luncheon"

This grand affair started fairly early on another very windy and overcast morning with the sun appearing and the winds moderating as the day matured. The Webb’s’ fabulous lunch with plenty of very good French champagne was really a gourmet feast with trout, prawns, chicken, terrine, salad and more.

Malcolm and Talia at the "Not the Moet lunch"

Talia even made a ginger-bread “Mandala” cake  which everyone loved and the kids (and Jan) ended up with blue tongues from the icing. I had a nice nap in the sun after lunch, nothing whatsoever to do with the several glasses of bubbly before during and after lunch!

Later in the day I posted Gudrun’s great interview on FM Radio 89.9 BFM (KL Malaysia) on to my Facebook  page and the Edu-Cat-Malaysia Facebook page. I did all of my clothes laundry and recharged MYPORT Wi-Fi Marina internet connection with another UAD25 as I ran out of computer time talking to my lovely wife. I also purchased a carton of VB for the boat from the bottle shop.

Another bird with "Verve" at the "Not the Moet lunch"

David Thompson and Jocelyn Webb returned to Sydney today and we were joined by Ben and Katharine Cook and their three delightful little daughters Indiana, Amanda and Eva. Ben will replace David Thompson on the crew for the last few races.

Thursday August 25 2011

Racing is on again today on Course 9, a distance of 21.6nm. We finished 7th across the line again today and 22nd on handicap. We are ranked at 11thoverall after 4 races still looking for a top ten finish!

Another tough day at the office!

It was a tough day today with plenty of tacks and gibes giving all of the crew an excellent work-out with the wind steady at 20-25t knots from the SSE and having to contend with the usual strong tidal streams. On the leg from the north of Pine Island to the north of Long Island “Mandala” suffered from a spectacular “Chinese Gybe” and over she went with the mast nearly touching the water. We all hung on and Gerard at the helm had water up to his knees as the mighty “Mandala” struggled to right herself. Everyone hung on tight and in what seemed to be a remarkably short period of time we were upright again and rapidly putting everything together again. Unfortunately I was to later learn that during this spectacular manoeuvre the outside port window in my cabin “popped” and took in quite a few gallons of the briny.

Wet stuff!

My computer, diary, telephone and other bits and pieces that had been sitting peacefully on top of the pantry cupboard for the past four weeks all got a thorough soaking.  My bed also copped a bucket-full so it was stripped and the sheets taken to the apartment for a wash and dry during dinner! Also during this race when we were putting the spinnaker away in its bag, Damien accidentally fell onto the dining table in the salon and it separated from its base. When we got back to our berth I put everything out to dry and turned a few of the fans in the salon on to assist.

The good old boys!

That night I enjoyed a very nice dinner at Talia and Mat’s apartment with Gerard and Jan and Damien and Fiona. I felt very happy and proud to be treated as one of their family. Gerard and Jan drove me back to the boat on their personally allotted golf-cart at about 1945 hours and I came back with clean dry sheets and tea towels.

Friday August 26 2011

Racing on in earnest today as we really want a top ten finish! Course 10 is the course today, a distance of 22nm. I awoke today to a wet boat as it had rained during the night. Added to the ingestion of water from the famous gybe I put on all the cabin fans to help dry things out. I repaired the salon dining table that was damaged yesterday and got the boat ready for the crew to arrive at around 0900 hours. Gerard decided to let Peter H take the helm today and that decision paid off as we managed a great run and a second place over the line and a very good fifth on handicap. The crew worked exceptionally well together today and with a few more races under our belt we will continue to make substantial improvements. “Mandala” now lies seventh (7th) in the series on handicap after today, a great result.

Saturday August 27 2011

Ben and Talia rarin' to go!

The Molles course today for the final race of the series. After several hours of waiting drifting around the start line in the sometimes drizzling rain the race was eventually cancelled because there was absolutely NO WIND! It is incredible to realise that in the last four days we have had a race cancelled for safety reasons as the wind was too strong and now we have another race cancelled because there is no wind at all!

Peter is less than enthusiastic with no wind while Gerard is talking to the boss to see if something could be arranged!

As it turned out with the racing cancelled today yesterday’s result stands for the Race Week and a top ten result with a very heavy handicap is a marvellous performance.

Everyone admired Peter’s ability to fine tune the boat each day getting better and better. He is a very good tactician and an excellent helmsman with a lot of racing experience. It becomes obvious over time that Peter is very accomplished and very good at what he does.

It is a mill pond!

I must congratulate every single crew member individually. Without any practice together before Race Week we came together like a well-oiled machine and with remarkably little shouting and cursing did a damn good job! Well done everyone! I also want to give everyone a big thank you for making me feel a welcome and valuable crew member (most of the time anyway!).

We spent most of the afternoon getting everything ready on board for the long journey back to Sydney. We have our final dinner tonight at the Webb’s apartment and I enjoyed another lovely evening in their company. I bought chocolates for everyone and Peter bought along a bottle of Verve Cliquot, definitely the preferred champagne of team “Mandala”.

I was back at the boat before 2200 hours to start packing.

Sunday August 28 2011

A cool and overcast final day to a fabulous month of sailing

It is Jan Webb’s birthday today and she is now the same age as me!

My very gracious benefactors: Jan and Gerard Webb. Thank you!

It is an overcast rainy day and I am a bit concerned that I may not be able to fly to Brisbane as several flights have been cancelled recently due to the bad weather and poor visibility. Later however the skies cleared and the sun appeared for the first time in a few days. I am starting to look forward very much to seeing my little sister and her husband Jean-Louis in Brisbane where I will overnight at their home.

My little sister Mary and her husband Jean-Louis

I am also very much looking forward to going back home tomorrow…only one more sleep!

Peter Haliday is taking a Bavaria 55 named “Tonic” to Mackay today. He left very early at around 0330 and Gerard will pick him up from Mackay tomorrow. Gerard’s brother Anthony and another friend who happens to be Bill Robinson’s cousin, Mark Wilkins, will sail the good ship “Mandala” back to Sydney with Peter Haliday.

My flight on Jetstar left Hamilton Island and arrived in Brisbane on time. Janet Mary (Mary) and Jean-Louis met me and after a little sight-seeing around their suburb of Woody Point near Redcliff we went to their lovely home. Mary had prepared a delicious osso-bucco which was downed with relish then off to bed as a very early start tomorrow. During the evening Jean-Louis managed to copy a precious set of very old family photos that Mary had obtained from Dad and little brother, Andrew (now only 53 years old!) had digitalized. Good memories.

Monday August 29 2011

Up at 0330 today and after a quick shower and a nice cuppa JM drove me into Roma Street station in the centre of Brisbane City. From here I caught the Gold Coast express to the southern-most station on that line, Varsity Lakes. Here I got a bus to Coolangatta (Gold Coast) airport. The entire trip went without a hitch and apart from my heavy baggage without wheels was relatively painless!

The AirAsiaX flight left on time at 0840 hours and I got a nice seat in row 8A unfortunately next to a very fat man whose skinny wife sat in the aisle seat. After an otherwise uneventful flight Gudrun met me at KLIA–LCCT at 1535 hours.

We went straight to our local barber at Lucky Garden and I had my usual #1 haircut. Ah! Feels much better! A bit of shopping and we went home where we fitted our new lifejackets, harnesses and tethers ready for our sailing race tomorrow. The Merdeka Regatta from the Royal Selangor Yacht Club to Pulau Pangkor, but that is another story!

We had an early night. (……censored!)

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