Friday 21 October 2011

Ahoy and other nautica

This morning a couple of hundred yachts left Auckland in perfect conditions on the Coastal Classic race to Russell in the Bay of Islands, and I - and a hillful of people - watched them go from North Head. They were a grand sight on the sparkling water with the wind filling their spinnakers (possibly gennakers - I'm no mariner) as they jostled for position rounding the point and skimmed past Rangitoto heading north. I was thinking they would be arriving tomorrow, and some of the smaller ones may, but astonishingly the race was over for the front-runners in less than six hours: pretty good for 119 nautical miles.

Auckland is known as the City of Sails, and a harbour full of yachts is a fairly regular sight, but it was a particularly lovely one today after a week of rain, especially with a holiday weekend ahead. Before I lived here, the only time I saw a yacht race was years ago from the Isle of Wight, when the Whitbread Round the World boats set off along the Solent. They were big, big yachts, and what astonished me was how the water, which had been relatively calm, was churned up like a washing machine by their wake as they swept past - and that there were spectators out there amongst it in spindly little kayaks and even someone on a windsurfer.

Speaking of which, I had a go on one of those in Fiji and had lots of fun right up until the point that I had to be rescued by the resort staff when I couldn't work out how to sail back up the lagoon against the wind. As I said, not a mariner.

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