View from the Helm - Swiftsure 2014 – A Tale of Two Days

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” C. Dickens.

I was going to recall the entire race, but I think hitting the highlights (and the low lights) is a better way….

So, a few random thoughts and impressions:
  • I have done a number of Swiftsures in the past, but not in about 20 years, and never as the Skipper.  The good news is that the basic course is still the same, and the experience is still a highlight of the year.
  • The inner harbour on the Friday before the race is a fantastic place to see people and boats.
  • The beer lines at the Skipper’s Meeting are too long!
  • They need more dishes at Lure.
  • 7am boat time is EARLY!  But breakfast wraps are a big help!
  • A long start line is a big plus when sharing the start with 70 footers.
  • Going through Race Passage against the tide is a whole lot better when there is a good breeze.
  • There are big gains to be made for those willing to go right in on the rocks.
  • Look out for the Orcas!
  • Don’t get too fixated on one aspect of the changing conditions.
  • Be willing to adjust your strategy as warranted.
  • If all your competition is splitting from you, cover the fleet!
  • Sailing in super light air is a huge challenge, but big gains can be made.
  • The Code 0 can be a major weapon.  And having the apparent wind be almost 90 degrees ahead of the true wind direction is a weird experience the first time it happens.  And depressing when the ride stops.
  • The best place to be when the drifter is hoisted is down below in a bunk.
  • You can’t really suck a hard boiled egg through the shell.
  • Chocolate covered espresso beans are the best candy.
  • 12 hours is about the limit that a group of 12 people can stand going absolutely no where before they start to go stir crazy and pour water on each other (in the rain)!
  • Pulling the plug and quitting a race is never easy, no matter how desperate the situation is.
  • It’s a long way from Port Renfrew to Victoria, even under power at 7 knots.
  • 11pm on a Sunday is not a great time to try to find food in Victoria.
But seriously, as I said on the way in to the harbour, I am very impressed by the effort everyone put in prior to, and during, the race.  The group did very well together, and everyone got along and did their best.

The foredeck team in particular did a fabulous job keeping things straight, even when there were three sails on the foredeck.

Again, I appreciate the effort from everyone, and I look forward to sailing with everyone again.