I met up with my Seattle friend Goran, who’s in town visiting his family, and he took me down to CYCA to try to get on a boat for twilight racing. Wednesday night races are NFS (no spinnakers), so I figured it would be a handful of cruising boats floating around the bay watching the scenery, but boy was I wrong. CYCA is the big club in town, the one that puts on the Sydney-Hobart, and it was packed when came in. We put our names up on the whiteboard and sat down at the table in the corner with the other boatless crew, and within about 5 minutes the whole table was snatched up by a Sydney 38 skipper with no crew. Once on the water, and after a couple practice tacks, I realized this was pretty serious business, as there were a LOT of boats in the starting area, including an ACC, a VO60, some fancy one-offs, and of course a handful of Farr 40s and other Sydney 38s. The start was incredibly tight, and we had no idea how far off the line we were, because we were sandwiched in a cluster of boats, a handful of which ended up OCS. Also, did I mention there was plenty of wind? And sun too! I quickly realized how weak I am when I was barely capable of grinding in a 100% jib on this 38-footer. Sydney harbour is quite narrow, so there were plenty of tacks, and I felt my strength leaving me when we finally made it to the windward mark, at which point the beer started flowing at an alarming rate. Pole out the jib, a couple jibes and we’re back to leeward and time for lots of grinding again. By now I’m soaked from hanging on the wet lifelines, but who cares, it’s February and a nice warm day. We’re second of the four ’38s, not bad for a crew put together 15 minutes before the start. At the windward mark my throat is parched from all the grinding, thankfully the cold beers are back on deck. After the finish it’s time for socializing at the clubhouse (anybody want an Olson 30?), and I get off the bus in Newport at about midnight, a little tipsy and still soaked with seawater.

The next day it was the same thing all over again, but this time on a 42-footer racing out of the Royal Prince Alfred on Pittwater. This time the ride was arranged ahead of time by my friend Linda (on the commodore’s boat, no less!). The crew were all incredibly relaxed, and the conditions were great: 15-20kts, sunny and warm. Pittwater is even narrower than Sydney harbour, so I was grunting over the winches again, but the ergonomics of the boat must’ve been a little better, because I had no problem bringing in the bigger sails on a bigger boat.

After two days of racing on big boats, my sides, back and shoulders are quite sore (that good kind of sore that lets you know your muscles are growing), but I’ve had a lot of fun and am looking forward to next week!