Double Handed racing is so much fun – give it a go!

Its blowing 15-20 knots with a typical Port Philip lumpy sea and the 5 minute gun has just gone off for the start of the annual ORCV Double Handed race. Myself and a mate Graeme Arthur have entered my Sydney 36CR Wild Side. We have done our homework and plotted the course, closely resembling one of my kids slinky toys the course doubles back on itself plenty of times. It has lots of running, reaching and down wind sailing passing RBYC tower several times.

It was a busy morning, with only the two of us preparing the boat instead of a full crew. Getting the main up was challenging, as was hoisting the headsail. We have invented a Marten Breaker system for the Asymmetric kite and are feeling pretty proud of our invention. We plan to use asymmetric kites to avoid the pole when gybing. The autohelm is kind of working, it appears possessed by the devil but for now is behaving. Scissor, Paper, Rocks has seen Graeme take the helm for the first lap and me run around on strings. We will swap over after each lap. We have chosen a slightly smaller headsail but with full main for reaching we are going to have plenty of power.

Its wet, frantic and certainly busy as we count down to the start along with several other competitors although strangely many are facing the wrong way. We got a fantastic start, reaching off to the first mark, how good is this! After being the first to turn the mark we smiled and waved at our competition as we passed them still heading to the mark. What we mistook for friendly smiles were actually laughs from them as they yelled out that we had gone around the mark the wrong way. Bugger!!

Fortunately, we hadn’t put up the kite so we returned once again and this time turned the right way around the mark in third place. All good, nobody had yet put up a kite, how soft are they!! Up went the Asy, down with the headsail (all done with plenty of verbal encouragement and an almost round up). We accelerated and mowed down the boat in front of us, “this is awesome!” - cried Graeme just before a gust managed to strain the Marten breaker and blow the tack of the Asy. Lots of rude words, then plenty of action on the foredeck again saw us return to two sail mode and once again settle back into third place.

They say a sign of madness is to try something a second time and expecting a different result. Yes, you could predict it, we put up the other Asy, took off and surfed a couple of waves then the Marten breaker once again tripped that kite too. More rude words, more waves over the deck and more laughs before we made the top mark, in fourth place. OK so we did learn, stuffing the kite downstairs, throwing the Marten breaker overboard and discussing poling out the heady for the next lap. Working hard we tacked, we reached, we gybed, we laughed, we swapped around and eventually crossed the line in second place.

Did all this actually happen? Pretty much, it’s been a while. We have done the race a number of times since and memories fade so who knows if we got the story right and if it all happened in that same year. We did get on the podium a few times over the years but results didn’t really matter. We had a great time, it challenged us and we had a lot of laughs. We didn’t take it too seriously, just lived for the moment and enjoyed the sailing. It even inspired me to do some double handed off shore with a couple of Melbourne to Hobarts and an Osaka but that’s another story.

So enter the May 2019 Double Handed race, its great fun and a challenge if you are looking for something a bit different.

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Martin Vaughan is the Commodore of the ORCV and is hoping to return to compete once again in the Double Handed race this year (he just needs a boat, ideally without a Marten breaker !!)

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