Archive for March, 2013

Reading break

Since there’s not much going on right now, and I was thinking of Normandy, I will share the single longest sentence I’ve ever read (click the little french flag for the original):

Granite to the south, sand to the north; here sheer rock faces, there dunes. An inclined plane of meadowland with rolling hills and ridges of rock; as a fringe to this green carpet, wrinkled into folds, the foam of the ocean; along the coast, low-built fortifications; at intervals, towers pierced by loopholes; lining the low beaches, a massive breastwork intersected by battlements and staircases, invaded by sand and attacked by the waves, the only besiegers to be feared; windmills dismasted by storms, some of them-at the Vale, Ville-au-Roi, St. Peter Port, Torteval-still turning; in the cliffs, anchorages; in the dunes, sheep and cattle; the shepherds’ and cattle herds’ dogs questing and working; the little carts of the tradesmen of the town galloping along the hollow ways; often black houses, tarred on the west side for protection from the rain; cocks and hens, dung heaps; everywhere cyclopean walls; the walls of the old harbor, now unfortunately destroyed, were a fine sight, with their shapeless blocks of stone, their massive posts, and their heavy chains; farmhouses set amid trees; fields enclosed by waist-high drystone walls, forming a bizarre checkerboard pattern on the low-lying land; here and there a rampart built around a thistle, granite cottages, huts looking like casemates, little houses capable of withstanding a cannonball; occasionally, in the wildest parts of the country, a small new building topped by a bell-a school; two or three streams flowing through the meadows; elms and oaks; a lily found only here, the Guernsey lily; in the main plowing season, plows drawn by eight horses; in front of the houses, large haystacks on circular stone bases; expanses of prickly furze; here and there gardens in the old French style with clipped yew trees, carefully shaped box hedges and stone vases, mingled with orchards and kitchen gardens; carefully cultivated flowers in countryfolk’s gardens; rhododendrons among potatoes; everywhere seaweed laid out on the grass, primrose-colored; in the church yards no crosses, but slabs of stone standing erect, seeming in the moonlight like white ladies; ten Gothic bell towers on the horizon; old churches, new dogmas; Protestant worship housed in Catholic architecture; scattered about in the sand and on the promontories, the somber Celtic enigma in its various forms-menhirs, peulvens, long stones, fairy stones, rocking stones, sounding stones, galleries, cromlechs, dolmens, fairies’ houses; remains of the past of all kinds; after the druids the priests; after the priests the rectors; memories of falls from heaven; on one point Lucifer, at the castle of the Archangel Michael; on another, Icart Point, Icarus; almost as many flowers in winter as in summer. This is Guernsey.

Victor Hugo, The Archipelago of the Channel


After six weeks on the market, Idefix has been sold. Her new owners Ken and Jess are pretty excited to have the only Olson 30 in Australia, and it looks like she’ll get a workout in all the Newcastle races. On Friday night Ken and I went for a sail across Sydney harbour and I had the pleasure of steering her in a steady breeze for what may be the last time, before hopping off at the Manly wharf and watching her sail into the night. Ken was so keen to get her racing that he sailed her throughout the night so he could make the start of a race in Newcastle the next day! It was a bittersweet moment for me, as the boat and I have shared 16000 miles of adventures over the last four years.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what I am going to do next. First of all, Ken has managed to get me a spot on the TP52 he races on for the Lord Howe Island race. At the end of March I will fly down to Melbourne to deliver Frantic up to Newcastle, then we will race to LHI, stay on the island a few days, and sail the boat back to Melbourne. I’m really stoked about 2000 miles on the Tasman Sea on an Aussie racing yacht.

And to stay busy in the meantime, I’m still racing on weeknights and weekends, on Secret Men’s Business in Pittwater and a variety of boats in Sydney Harbour. The crew of Secret Men’s Business is one of the coolest I’ve ever seen. Racing yachts are often a chaos of people stumbling around, crawling all over each other, and lots of shouting and swearing, but SMB is like a well-oiled machine that silently goes about its business. I’ve been on the boat for 5 or 6 races now, and yesterday was the first time I heard an expletive come out of somebody’s mouth, as the spinnaker twisted itself furiously around the forestay. The relaxed attitude with which everybody goes about their business belies many, many years of sailing together.


The Secret Men’s Business crew chilling after leading the fleet around Pittwater for a couple laps.

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