The race aboard Moonbeam IV

27/09/2012
Flitting about in the pre race were the navigator and tactician, taking readings of wind direction and speed and matching these to the set course. The concentration of their faces was immense. Everyone else was busy setting sails to their optimum, trimming the sheets inch by inch to gain those extra points. The huge sail cloth towering above was awesome. The boom was tree trunk thick and solid too as my head testifies! The wooden mast is equally as thick and requires eight burly types taking bight after bight of rope when tacking to keep tensioned correctly. Sweat and grunting poured out with every haul.

The start was good and close with the smaller Mariquita making ground. To windward Moonbeam IV heeled and with only a toe rail to hold anyone on board, the planked deck seemed smoother and more slippery than I had noticed before. Wedging myself between doghouse and, well friction really, was tricky. I then had to remember that I had to stop the camera from scuttling seaward and of course take pictures. This is a normal state of affairs aboard a boat, but this beautiful classic yacht was the trickiest so far by far!

Tactician and navigator continued their trade reading the electronic chart hidden from normal view on the front panel of the doghouse.

Making any change of direction required immense management, ably and calmly though loudly to all the crew who acted on command. All discussion stopped while the instructions were given. Foredeck crew commanded direction there and each group knew what they had to do. ]

These manoeuvres were a superb demonstration of leadership, delegation and action.

With changing light and weather, even a spot of rain, camera settings were constantly altering. Most of the time I was ISO 200 and F5.6 to F8, with a great deal of wide angle shots low down on the deck. Skipper Mickael, didn’t want me on the lea side too much when beating upwind as he wanted my weight along with everyone else on the windward side for maximum momentum. I did as directed and climbed up high above the waves, literally.

For the running leg all hands were required as we set as much sail as possible. My own hands were required here also with what seemed like miles of rope to be kept in control. If one of these gets into a tangle and jams, sails can tear, masts can break and life is threatened. It’s as serious as that and meticulous care is taken to keep all lines separate and free.

The wind had eased a little so crew sat on the pole attached to the headsail as we goose winged down the course. Preventer suitably attached, the gentle role was soothing in comparison to the upwind legs. One of the female crew, lain out on the deck beautifully singing Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ just about summed this leg up.

The beat to the finish picked us up more time to congratulatory handshakes at the finish, which came all too quickly.

Where did we come? Second on handicap just behind Mariquita, but only just. There were only two measly seconds separating us. I hope that wasn’t me?

Massive thanks to Soazig and Carla for arranging the trip out and of course the owner, skipper and crew for allowing me on board.
Awesome.

Ian