After arriving to Auckland having sailed all the way from Fiji, and having done a trip to the volcano islands in the vicinity, I had the privilege to be invited to partake in race sailing in Auckland, as part of the crew.
The sailing season was just starting here, being October - the springtime. Weather was a bit chilly and not very stable, but no gale warnings and no heavy rain with lousy visibility. The sailing was to be done on Thursday, as the regular Ponsonby Rum Race was taking place. I teamed up with the crew from Fiji-NZ crossing, and their regular sailing partners, on a Stewart 34. There were several other Stewarts, and a few similar boats in the race. Good thing was that there were rules against over-equipping the boats, so there was a fair chance for anyone. No spinnakers that day, but the wind would allow wing-on-wing sailing and active use of the spinnaker pole, as well as active tacking, and taking strong tidal currents into account.
As we headed off from the starting line by Auckland Bridge, we lost the wind and stood there with wrong set of sails - and were third last as the race started. During the race, we gained a lot through tactics and steady work, and made sure to hang from the gunwales to press out that last fraction of a knot.
All handicaps counted, we won the race! Got back to the marina for some debriefing, and then headed to the clubhouse to receive the price – a bottle of rum – and celebrated together with the local sailing legends.
I got a taste for this kind of racing, and will most definitely do more of that, hopefully both in Scandinavia and in the Caribbean.