YACHT RACING OUTSIDE THE BAY - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
First of all I am a newcomer to ocean racing and I would like to share my experience having completed our first ORCV race - Melb to Devonport.
Having sailed all my life I only progressed to owning my first “real” boat; a Hanse 445 (B455 Mersea) about 3 years ago.
The learning curve was rather steep in the first year or two. As expected I know I will never stop growing in experience and with it the confidence of being able to handle the boat in varying conditions.
After buying the boat I immediately enrolled on the ORCV Beyond the Bay programme which included the overnight challenge (a navigation and watch keeping exercise around the bay) then culminated in the lattitude race out of the heads.
The fact that each boat had an experienced mentor on board for BTB made it very enjoyable and really helped pull all the classroom theory and much more together.
Since BTB I have have also completed the sea safety survival course - which teaches you heaps and is absolutely essential if you intend heading “out there” !!!
Thereafter we started venturing out of the heads on a semi regular basis - Wilsons Prom and the Kent Group, Sydney Pittwater, King Island and Apollo Bay.
As a “newby” all I can say “for me” is that it is a different and very special world once you leave the confines of Port Philip.
It’s not easy to describe - “adventure, freedom, anticipation and the unknown” are some words that spring to mind.
One thing for sure is that all the normal and sometimes mindless buzz of work and daily life issues completely and I mean COMPLETELY disappear
So on to ocean racing - I was very lucky in that my regular crew are very experienced and tight knit coming from a recently sold Sydney 38.
If as a skipper you are new to Ocean racing I feel it is very important and in fact I would say “essential” that you have experienced crew members that you get on with and trust, for two reasons; it gives you confidence to relax and enjoy the experience plus you quickly find out things that you didn’t know that you didn't know :)
We made the decision to do Devonport about 6 months prior to the race and had to do a few mods and provisioning to move the boat up from Cat 3 to Cat 2 safety plus we got the boat measured and weighed giving us an AMS rating.
The race itself was great, even the planning and anticipation was a significant and positive part of the overall experience. Yes there was quite a bit of work to do but mostly it was a once off stuff - and there are plenty of people out there willing to help get you to the start line.
Cruising was and still is fun and mostly relaxing as you can pick your weather windows and have multiple options up your sleeve if conditions change.
But for me Ocean Racing takes the whole experience to another level - the weather cannot be pre-booked - the adrenaline is pumping - you are out there with likeminded people who are there to compete but also to offer advice and assist in the event of a "bad situation” developing.
The race was exhilarating both mentally and physically and the camaraderie, race tactic discussions along the way all added to the experience.
After the race arriving in Devonport about 3am in the morning presented the only scary moment of the crossing when trying to do a tight turn in the fast running tidal flow to get to the pontoon mooring our steering locked and we were sure we were heading for the mud.
Luckily an errant winch handle in the rope bag that jammed the other wheel was found to be the culprit just in time.
Moored up we were greeted by, yes at 3am!! by club members delivering each boat with cold beer, hot pies and a jar of the infamous Tassie pickled onions - what a welcome!!!
In closing, all I can say if you are a boat owner and are considering doing an ocean race - get out there and do it - you won’t be disappointed - feel free to give me a call and have a chat - I am currently deciding which race to do next :)
Neil Sargeant RBYC