Friday, 10 June 2011

Auckland to Fiji : Well, that was a Boat Race and a half!

Checking behind. Image copyright Hamish Hooper/CAMPER.

by Hamish Hooper

All day our positions and speed had us chopping and changing finishing positions with Vodafone. It wasn’t until late in the afternoon that we eventually caught sight of them on the horizon off our stern.

I was given some words of wisdom early in the day from Dalts, “Remember this day. This is as good a sailing conditions as you will ever get, so think of this day when you are mid race in the Volvo and are so exhausted, cold, and ground down that you are physically sick.” Which going by my performance early in this Fiji race isn’t too difficult.

I took his point, it was an awesome day's sailing.

As the big red Trimaran’s size slowly grew so did the intensity on board CAMPER, the crew really switched into racing gear and it was a sight to behold. We were flying along at over 20 knots, white water all over the decks and calls for sail changes seemingly every 5 minutes. I lost count of the number of times we changed sails - although I’m pretty sure we worked our way through most of the inventory.

From bow to stern the guys were pretty impressive to watch.

Daryl & Mike on the bow, getting blasted by water like that from a fire hydrant- and loving every minute of it. Andy in the pit like the piano man ended up looking like he was in the middle of a noodle soup there were that many ropes around him. Salty was like a work horse hooking up sheets and changing them over frantically, almost preempting what he was about to be told from the back of the boat.

Chuny, well he just kept popping up everywhere - and seemingly always with Milky bars in hand.
Adam was running around like he had just stepped off the beach, in saturated shorts, tee shirt & bare feet. I was perched on the main grinder, while Trae was just kicking back easing and just kept seem to barking, ‘main on!’ at me. Who knows what he meant. I just kept winding.

Stu, Nico & Will were doing a good job of impersonating Stephen Hawking, working out what seemed to be all sorts of mathematical equations of what sails to put up for sailing at what angle to get to the finish line ASAP. Dalts was getting amongst it, and even Chris Cameron the team photographer was swinging off the stays like an excited monkey trying to get his shots.

In the end, we were 10 minutes to late.

Stink, but what a buzz it was.

No time to celebrate, my first visit to Fiji is a fleeting one, all in darkness and not a foot set on land.

I did hear the customs official say ‘Bula’ as he stepped on board though.
That will do.

Off we go again!