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Buttock Clenching Terror

Buttock Clenching Terror – Novice Helm round the sand bar.

Boat owners are often nervous handing the helms of their preciousesesses (‘gollum) over to anyone one else. The addition of low tide, the sandbar and a mast head asymmetric can only be described as buttock clenching terror.

                All was well on the start line as this year was a Sternchaser, I remember the look of sheer terror on the face of Churchkey’s novice helm once as the entire fleet converged on the top mark in a twenty knot Fannie Bay gust. She’s never been seen since.

                As last to start, Shaw Thing had the rest of the fleet to follow. We could just see the top of the sail of Farr and Away over the dunes of the sandbar. Peace rained till the top mark, we held Mango Madness but were unable overhaul her. There was no bear away the Novice Helm, accepted the guidance of his owner and elected to sail on towards Mandora. Eventually clear, we thought, of the Sand Bar the Novice was pointed at Talk Head for the spinnaker hoist.

                Bravely the more experience crew clenched in terror, as Tom, more used to issuing wisdom from the talking stick at the back of the boat explored the new horizons of the pointy end and started pulling ropes. I think it went quite well.

                The speed wobbles settled down and we were doing 12 knots, unable to get above Mango Maddness and unwilling to go deep because of the sandbar we drove straight into MM’s wind shadow, exactly what happened next will need the on board camera footage for clarification. The end result was the Novice Helm fell out and Shaw Thing Chinese gybed. The boat reached a happy equilibrium of 80° heel. Lisa and Paul manically shouting instructions at the helm. Who wasn’t there.

Tom could see the vacant helm, but from his perch on the windward wing decided his weight was probably critical were it was and wisely waited till Paul crawled to the helm and brought us back under control.

                                will we get penalised for not having a novice helmingPonytail Paul, mid MOB procedure.

                The Novice learned much, for instance, he learned about wind shadows and outside assistance, he was quite miffed when the Don Raymond motored up and said “I’m not here to rescue you I’m just here in case of crocodiles”. He learned about MOB drill, from the outside. Finally, he learned a new technique called Chinese side ways upwind spinnaker tolling drop.

                The Chinese sideways upwind spinnaker trolling drop™ is a new technique designed to handle the issue that arises when the boat in front of you hits the sand bar and stops dead  three boat lengths away while your boat speed is in the mid teens. This technique may not be favoured by the racing elite but it has some excellent features. For instance your draft is vastly reduced by the keel being horizontal. The weight of the boat is reduced by half the crew being in the water and so on. The main advantage, however, is not hitting the sand bar at a dozen knots.

                That and its hilarious for spectators, unless they are the ones aground on the sand bar.

The only thing worse than not having an echo sounder, is sitting in the bar after the race listening to the stories of those who do, and draw less than you. A big thankyou to the volunteers for a fun race, and Pete, Shaw Thing’s extremely brave novice. Can I unclench now?

Position: 12° 27.6' S, 130° 48.1' E

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