Monday, February 23, 2015

Onetangi Beach Races

I do admire those travel writers who produce stories on the move, flipping open their laptops in airports and on trains to patter out 1000 words of fresh impressions and accurate quotes. It's not something I've been able to do, myself, except very rarely, since my itineraries are generally so full-on that there's little chance during the day and by the time I close my bedroom door all I can think about is getting to sleep and knitting up a few ravell'd cares.
I did once write a New York story on the plane back home, and an Aitutaki one while sitting on the beach by that glorious lagoon, and they were the better for the immediacy of the experience. That's something that the tourism people ought to remember when they're packing their media programmes full of places and experiences: the usual quantity vs quality thing. Not, to be fair to myself, that the stories written afterwards from memory, notes and photographs are hugely inferior - just a bit less vivid, perhaps.
That's a good argument for doing more domestic stuff. Like the Onetangi Beach Races yesterday, about which I've been writing today, ending up with something satisfyingly pleasing. It helps, of course, that I really enjoy the Beach Races themselves - and it also made a difference
that this time, my second, I was able to see clearly what was going on, unlike previously when a rogue wave at Palm Beach had snatched my glasses from me a couple of hours before the events began. Thank goodness for autofocus, is all I can say about that experience.
Yesterday couldn't really have been better: clear sunny day, fluffy clouds, warm blue sea bobbing with moored boats, crowds of relaxed people strolling along the roadside food stalls and settling themselves with tables, chairs and chilly bins in the shade of the pohutukawa trees. The man doing the announcing was jolly, the marshals in charge of clearing swimmers from the beach before races were laid-back and pleasant, the music was Kiwi nostalgia, the vibe totally Waiheke chill. Charley Farley's and the 4th Avenue Eatery were busy but there were still benches to share on their decks to enjoy a beer under an umbrella.
There was the tug-of-war, the hidden treasure, the Fashion Parade, and of course the races themselves: Sealegs doing a tortoise and hare, fat little ponies hitched to miniature sulkies, lean fit horses ridden by lean fit girls, and chugging tractors in serious pursuit of the title of Fastest on Waiheke. All good fun, all relaxed and easy, everybody ready with a smile and a friendly comment. Classic.

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