Ocean Sailing Podcast: Hi folks and welcome to this week’s episode, episode 19 of the Ocean Sailing Podcast. This week I decided to do something different again, we’ve just done quite a bit of racing recently, so I thought I would take the opportunity to do a bit of a race debrief with five of my six crew who sailed the Sydney to Gold Coast race with me. So for this session, we are at the Southport Yacht Club. They’ve graciously supplied me with a room free of charge to be able to sit down and do a bit of an interview and recording session and do a debrief on the race and share that with you and since I last put together an intro, we’ve been north and south and probably done right about a thousand nautical miles.
We sailed at the XXXX Gold Cup, which also the IRC Queensland championships a couple of weekends ago and unfortunately for us, the forecast 15 knot winds ended up being 20 to 30 and in the first race of the championship we dropped number one kite into the water while the bow was doing nine knots down wind and prominently destroyed it and ended up having to finish the series race two, three and four somewhat under powered without our number one spinnaker and had a reasonably good run, we’ve had a few accidents with it and it’s been repaired a few times.
It was due for replacement but ultimately we finished that series of our first IRC series, 10th out of 15 entries I think it was. On the Sunday night we then left Manly, which is east of Brisbane, travelled the 60 miles back to South Port on the Gold Coast. I got in about 1:30 in the morning, Home at about 2:30, back up at six AM and then back at the boat at seven for departure for Sydney. We had a really tight window to then get down to Sydney for the Sydney to Gold Coast race, a 384 mile race north up Australia’s east coast.
Second biggest ocean race of the year behind the Sydney Hobart in terms of the competitor numbers and for me, it was our first multi-day race as a crew. We’ve done quite a bit of sort of 12 to 24 hour stuff, but we’ve never actually done any multi day racing. I’ve done plenty of cruising that way, but it was the first real test and for us given we got our IRC and ORCI ratings just before Christmas about nine months ago. It was our first real big fleet test as well on those ratings to see how we go, and just a reminder, I’ve got a 25 year old Beneteau, 44.5 foot long yacht. Beneteau 445 it’s called Ocean Gem.
So, as you can imagine, today’s IRC racing, we’re racing a lot of high performance boats, a lot of carbon hulls, carbon masts, carbon gear, carbon sails, and so we rank quite low against the rest of the fleet. Our rating is 1.016 and we’re racing against boats that have got 1.1, 1.2, 1.5 as much as 1.98. That’s why they literally have to sail at almost twice our speed on average to beat us on handicap.
So that’s our first real test and it was a race that was supposed to be about two and a half days and ultimately it took four days, just over four days for us to go the 383 miles. It’s a race north against the prevailing southerly current and what it means, in all breeze conditions you’ve got to factor the current into account. But in light to no breeze the current becomes a real challenge and a real test.
So my thought is a bit of a debrief would be quite good. If you’ve done some racing then seeing how we go about debrief might give you some thoughts with your crew. If you haven’t done any racing or any sailing at all, getting the perspectives of crew that some of them had done their first multi day race, sleep on the boat overnight type races ever. Some of them had only done day racing before that. So I thought it would be good to see how they reflected on the race.
Some of my crew, Shaya, Sean, Eli, Alex and Steve and Rick and me. That’s seven. So all but Sean were at the session. Sean couldn’t make it unfortunately because of some family sickness issues. So I thought it would be good to have a bit of a debrief and this is the race, I think the race that we had was a real test of character and it really showed up tenacity and determination in our team, which is really encouraging with what lies ahead.
We also had a journalist from the local newspaper, News Limited owned Gold Coast bulletin who had contacted the yacht club about three months ago and said, “I want to do the Sydney to Gold Coast race onboard a yacht and write a story. A bit of a day in the life of an off shore sailor.” So I volunteered to take her on my boat.
Shaya was her name and she was excellent. She’d done a little bit sailing with us before that but really I got stuck and then wrote a bit of a feature piece in the local newspaper which is all good for helping to promote sailing as well. So for us, the four days or four days and one hour is a pretty long race. Only because our expectations were almost half that. But four days isn’t that long if that’s what you expect and so it was a real test of character with the change of weather we dealt with.
And so this episode is about hearing it from a crew’s perspective, hearing how they saw things, their highs and lows. Are there things that they thought we should do differently and it was great having the session at the Southport Yacht Club where we based, fantastic yacht club and again if you live in the Gold Coast, don’t hesitate to stop and if you’re thinking of trying some sailing, come down on a Thursday afternoon and join one of the twilight racing crews and go out on the broad water.
So for us, because of the length of the race and we finished late on the Wednesday then we had to pull out of Brisbane to Keppel race which was due to be starting on a Friday. We just couldn’t turn the boat around in six hours with damage we had to repair to sails, re-provision the boat and get it back out to Brisbane ready to go again. So we pulled out of the next race unfortunately. Unfortunately that race, unlike the Gold Coast race, was 20 to 30 knots from the south, southeast. It would have been a fantastic one and a half day, 350 mile race but that’s how it goes.
So that’s a session that you’ll hear shortly with my crew, some of the crew who did the race and doing a bit of a debrief and then the next week I’m now heading away north again 580 nautical miles to Hamilton Island, for Hamilton Island Race Week for the very first time. If you want to check that out, audihamiltonislandraceweek.com.au. 250 entries, biggest fleet ever I understand, should be spectacular racing around the Whitsunday Islands. So we’re in the passage, IRC passage division so each day will be, I imagine, sort of four to five hour race around different islands and different courses and stuff which is pretty cool.
So again, I’ve had a really busy couple of weeks so a little bit behind in show notes for the last couple of episodes. So they will follow and with those again some great videos, I’ll include some great videos as well. Make sure you check out the show notes at Oceansailingpodcast.com. In the show notes for this episode, got a great two minute video that is a good listen and not being overly aggressive whether you’re in the right or in the wrong off the start line of a 383 mile race.
The videos show a dozen to 15 boats, literally pulling out, spinnaker poles out, they didn’t give themselves enough room, they got tangled up leaving Sydney heads, one ran aground, see if we needed up facing the wrong way, boat’s bowsprits, four or five out of the race within 20 minutes of starting and we managed to veer 20 degrees to the left and go around a sort of messes to start had sort of unfold. Again, I’ll put a video in the show notes page in YouTube.
But it’s just a good listen and staying out of trouble because it’s pretty sad when you see the crew who have prepared for weeks, maybe months, have their race ended just through being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and being a little bit too aggressive. So I will share that as well. Enjoy this week’s episode of the Ocean Sailing Podcast with some of the Ocean Gem racing crew. Great episode to get crew perspective on things and certainly if you’re thinking of getting into sailing, your local yacht club, have a chat of somebody, I’m sure they’ll be able to get you on the boat and get you a taste of what it’s all about. So folks, enjoy.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Hi folks, welcome back to the Ocean Sailing Podcast. This week we’ve got something different we’re doing. I’m with some of the crew of Ocean Gem, my yacht that recently competed and they XXXX Gold Cup up in Manly in Brisbane and then we had to finish it on the Sunday get back to the Southport on the Sunday night around one AM and then head off to Sydney on the Monday morning first thing for this Sydney to Gold Coast race.
We have three delivery crew, a couple of our regular crew and a ringer that we got from the yacht club at the last moment and we had a great sail to Sydney, it took us two days and four hours, so a nice quick trip down 390 odd nautical miles and then we started the Sydney to Gold Coast race on the Saturday morning.
Ocean Gem Crew: Afternoon.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Saturday afternoon, I forgot. Despite all of our expectations and intentions, we participated in the slowest Sydney to Gold Coast race in history and so we thought it would take us about two and a half days, it took us four days and one hour to complete and unfortunately for us, the race was a bit of a roller coaster ride. We started with a fleet of 75 boats, started out at Sydney Harbour which is pretty awesome and quite a spectacle.
On the show notes page I’ll post a couple of videos which show 10 or 15 yachts piling up as they lift the Heads. One running aground and several running into each other. So it was quite an exciting start. We’ve got some good breeze overnight the first night, going into day two we, to our surprise, we’d gone from back of the pack to leading our respective IRC and ORCI divisions. Then by the end of the race, some four odd days later, we were at the back of the fleet after really staying quite a stop start race where we were becalmed several times from anywhere between three and six hours at a time and we probably spent at least 24 hours of the four days at a standstill.
Unfortunately with the East Coast of Australia, if you’re heading north, you’ve got south bound current that’s running between sort of half a knot and three knots depending where you are. When you’re becalmed, you’re not actually standing still, you’re going backwards, so it really can be quite a test. So I’ve got the six of us here today for this session, six of our seven crew and we’re going to run through a little bit of a debrief really as we would normally talk about the race, talk about what we experienced, what we learned and then with some other racing we’ve got coming up later this year, just do a debrief around what can we do differently or what could we do better next time around.
So on Skype we’ve got Shaya who is currently on holiday in Cairns, which is a couple of thousand kilometres from here. Say hello Shaya.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, welcome along. Then in the room with me at the Southport Yacht Club, they’ve kindly lent us a room we can use, we’ve got Rick, we’ve got Alex, we’ve got Steve and we’ve got Eli. So say hello guys.
Ocean Gem Crew: Hi everyone.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Welcome along. Hopefully the rest of the podcast is at high level of excitement.
Ocean Gem Crew: Because it started off yeah.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, so we’ll get started, we’ve got a few questions to ask you guys really, as a bit of a debrief and we’ll start with you Shaya seeing as you recently joined us, you’re a journalist for the local Gold Coast bulletin, you joined us maybe 10, 12 weeks before the race with the intention of doing the race and writing the story on a day in the life or four days in a life as it turned out on the race course.
So from your point of view, what were you most, I guess, anxious or worried about before the race started? What things were on your mind the most prior of the start of the race.
Shaya: It’s definitely sea sickness to be honest. Yeah, I was just really worried about it because I know I do get quite sea sick out there and that once you’re on the boat you can’t really get off. So I was worried that I’d get sea sick and then be sort of stuck on there and yeah, that was my biggest worry.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, Alex, what about you? What was something you were concerned or anxious about before the race and just drag that mic right up towards you guys. Pull it a little closer.
Alex: I guess the only thing I was really concerned about was not making the start line because we’d all put in so much effort and everyone was on such a high to actually get down there and race, that’s my concern was that was something going to happen with the boat? We had that issue with the HF radio where we’re getting replies back from Lake Macquarie Marine Rescue. If we didn’t have an operating HF radio we couldn’t race. Those sort of things were concerning. It was just, we wanted to make the start line and we wanted to race.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, this is a good point and a bit of background, we did have issues passing our radio test which in the end turned out perfectly fine throughout the race and then we had other issues, which we’ll come back to later with our model safety checks, and we’ll come back to that. Okay, Rick, what about you?
Rick: Well, contrary to Alex’s idea, I had full confidence in making it there and getting into the start line, the only thing that I’m really sort of I suppose worried about was sleep. Personally I don’t sleep well in strange beds but I realized that if I got tired enough I would sleep. It’s just a matter of making sure I did sleep and get the most out of it.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Did you sleep?
Rick: Sometimes, not very often. Just lying there looking.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay. Now Steve, you’re done quite a lot of off shore racing, Sydney to Hobart races. I guess this is a bit of a dawdle up the coast really. Was there anything at all that you had sort of concerns or worries about and just pull that microphone even close to you guys. Pick the whole stand up because your sound here is a little bit low.
Alex: Probably the basically just the unknown. So we’ve got a crew that hasn’t really done a lot of off shore racing for any great length and we’re throwing it all together whilst we’ve trained on off shore races. It’s just the unknown of what was going to be two or three nights, which turned into over four days of how everyone would react to that, who was going to get sick and who could cope with be it, be it high winds, low winds or anything like that?
Probably the other thing, the concern was the race start. It’s probably the biggest fleet of off shore race yachts in Australia on a quite a short line and like what happened, you really got to get away well and not retire. Just before the Heads like I think four boat steed. That was probably the main thing and the same race last year, it was very light wind start, it was very tight start and made a big difference on the overall result. So they are probably the two things for me.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s good point because you think about the Sydney to Hobart having a 110, 115 boats but it’s spread over three start lines isn’t it? So 75 on one actually is busy. Also, there’s no control of the spectators, so they just go anywhere they like.
Alex: Yeah, it’s very lose where as a Sydney to Hobart, you’ve got three lines, you’ve got spectators behind their own buoys, they’re out of the way and you’re allowed to go around them but then they’ll actually go around you. All the big boats that are absolutely smoking through at three times the speed, miles away, you don’t even see them. It’s always a pretty tight line and which we did great on. So that was a highlight.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, because it’s quite unique to have big boats get a bad start and have to come up through the fleet past you as opposed to being ahead of you on their own line and off and gone.
Alex: It looked great for us, that’s for sure and embarrassing for them I’m sure so that’s good.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Cool, what about you Eli? What were your anxieties or concerns?
Eli: Yeah, popping spinnakers in front of 74 other boats, two thirds of them professionals, some of the best boats in Australia, dropping spinnakers in front of those boats and trying to get a clean start. It all felt like I was on, or we were all on show a bit and I wondered how it was going to go. I was confident.
Ocean Gem Crew: We had confidence in you.
Eli: Now, we did really well. We did great actually. Great start
Alex: We actually ran the line on port for a while, which was a bit concerning at times.
Eli: A little bit.
Alex: It worked well.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: I think part of the challenge is there’s so much going on around you, there’s so much to look at if you don’t keep an eye on your own game at the same time because you’re a spectator as much as you’re a participant. So it’s easy to just get distracted with what’s going on around you and lose sight of what’s in front of you.
Eli: Yeah, there’s a lot of nice boats to look at. I had to keep my mind on the job.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, that’s good. Shaya, back to you. What aspects of the race did you find most challenging from a personal point of view?
Shaya: Well I got pretty sea sick in the first few days because the tablets just weren’t working. So I was sort of trying to put on a brave face so you guys wouldn’t notice, to then pull my weight and then I found that really challenging. But then as soon as Steve gave me his tablets from, I think you said they were from England or something, they worked wonders. So it all came together then.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, what brand of tablets were they Steve?
Ocean Gem Crew: Stugeron.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Oh Stugeron?
Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, they’re the good stuff.
Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, better drugs.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Highly recommended. That’s good, you certainly did put on a brave face for the first couple of days because it’s not nice when you’re feeling green.
Shaya: Yeah. The rest was all right I think. When there was no wind, of course that was challenging because you get up from your four hours sleep and you haven’t sort of moved, that can be a bit disheartening.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: The same rock that’s there when you go to sleep, is still there four hours later when you get up.
Ocean Gem Crew: In fact, further in front of you.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, or the rock’s further ahead than it was last time you saw it. That’s even worse. Okay, cool. Alex, what about you? What aspects of the race did you find the most challenging?
Alex: I guess because we’re all at a race, we want to sort of pumping on a bit of adrenaline and you want to get moving and you want the bike to go fast and you want to be up there with the fleet and I guess the most challenging parts for me were when we will becalmed. When we just couldn’t get the boat speed that we wanted and particularly, because a lot of the racing that we do here is against other keel boats that are fairly cruiser sailors. To see that fleet of high performance racing yachts and just a little whiff of a breeze, off they go and eight, nine 10 knots.
That was challenging to be so slow in those light breezes. Start to catch up to them, the way we did on the first night and then to be becalmed and then to see them maybe a mile or two ahead get a breeze, and then just take off and we don’t get that breeze. So to me, that was just frustrating. You just wanted to get moving, you wanted to race, not sit there waiting to race.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: I think it felt worse the time than it actually was. After we finished I looked back for the results and I think IRC rating wise, we have a second lowest rating in the fleet and that’s pretty much about where we finished up. It was nice to be ahead of 15 or 16 or 20 boats, whatever it was at one stage, we needed wind to keep that up. Having a low rating is one thing, it’s never motivating to see a whole fleet in front of you. It doesn’t matter what your rating is, it’s just psychologically it feels wrong, isn’t it?
Alex: But we were doing so well. If we’d been able to keep up that speed, we were with the fleet and it was just frustrating to see that wind die out continuously. What did we have? Four or five holes that we fell in to on the way up?
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, quite big ones.
Alex: It would have been just favour to not find those holes. Keep moving.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, exactly. Okay. Thank you. Rick, what about you? What did you find?
Rick: I agree with Alex on that one and this is challenging, his words were frustrating and I think that’s correct. It was frustrating just watching people being able to move with no wind and we just stopped or went backwards with the currents. Otherwise, I think it was a pretty smooth run, the whole thing, enjoyed it.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s good. And when we were moving, we were moving okay but that’s right, when you’ve got wind of less than four knots, you’ve got carbon hulls that will just drift along.
Rick: Yeah, and just leave us fore dead.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Literally stopped dead. Yeah. It’s quite a difference, over four days.
Ocean Gem Crew: Rick.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Steve?
Steve: I’m exactly the same, heavy boat, light winds, a sub three knots…
Rick: Heavy crew.
Alex: Heavy everything, heavy absolutely everything. No matter what you do in sub three knots in a heavy boat, it’s just not going to go as well as a light boat, which as everyone was saying, we were right up with. If not ahead and frustrating that we just park up and just couldn’t get going like they could. I suppose like what you’re saying, if we were second last the whole race, that wouldn’t have been a problem because they would have been ahead and we probably would have been encouraged because we were catching them and then we’d slow down and then we’d catch them and slow down being a downwind star race that you catch the boats that are in the holes.
Because we’re so far ahead and we’re first in our division and ahead of boats that are a whole lot lighter and a whole lot faster than this. It’s just so frustrating going backwards through any fleet. So that was the main challenge that I saw like everyone I expect.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Fortunately it eventually came to an end and didn’t last another 30 days or something silly.
Ocean Gem Crew: It felt like 30 days.
Ocean Gem Crew: Just that last day.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, especially the last day, that cruel. Eli, what about you?
Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, well I’m just going to repeat the same thing, lack of wind was really frustrating and then to throw into it a million sail changes.
Ocean Gem Crew: I knew that was coming because there was no wind.
Eli: Then, you know. Still not to happen. From a number one to another three to a code zero back to a one, down to a three again. And still we’ve only gone two miles and that doesn’t sound like every bowman in Australia right now. Complaining about sail changes. Yeah, just no wind.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, you want to be able to sail more than 500 meters if we change sails again, don’t you?
Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, preferably.
Ocean Gem Crew: Preferably in the right way too, not backwards.
Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, that two miles, that could have been any direction.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, Shaya, back to you.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Were there any times you sort of felt scared or unsafe or just wish you’d stayed home?
Shaya: Yeah. I did think a few times, “I wonder how long it would take me to swim to shore?” Yeah, I don’t know why I thought it was so tough when there was no wind. You’d think that’s it’s not hard on you physically or anything, but mentally it’s just I found it really tough. Especially when we got deadlines and stuff coming back home and I just didn’t know when exactly we’d be back home, I found that a bit challenging. Then I started wondering, “Oh was it the right decision?” Of course it was but at the time, it plays with the mind a little bit.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Well and to put into context, I think the last couple of days you had your editor calling you, more than once a day saying, “Are you back, have you written your story because you’re past your deadline?”
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Added to the stress right?
Shaya: It ended up turning even, like publication wise for us, it was even better that we came back closer to the weekend but at the time I didn’t know that, yeah that part was a bit stressful.
Ocean Gem Crew: Exams.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, that’s right, you miss an exam, right? You had an exam to be back for it.
Shaya: Yeah, but I sort of laughed at it in the end, it all turned out but yeah.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Did you ever feel scared at all?
Shaya: I think there was only once when it was dark and there was thunder storm and there was a fair bit of wind for once and I think the boat was leaning a little bit and I just got a little bit scared for maybe 10 minutes but you said, “Oh don’t worry, you’ll be okay.” It was fine after that.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Then wind died and you wish the storm came back so we could get going?
Shaya: It was sort of like, “Come back.” Yeah, it was fine then.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, what about you Alex? Any scary moments or what the hell am I doing here?
Ocean Sailing Podcast: I could have been at home reading a book or doing the gardening.
Alex: No point that any of that occur. I mean I committed to the team, to the race, to basically get out there and experience as much as I possibly can and it was more of a case of like bring it on, let’s give ourselves a good test and I guess the time where it started to happen, like the sort of weather we wanted was that thunder storm on that last night. Started to get 20 knots over, apparently it was the boat was healing, it was cooking, and that was fun. That was a lot of fun but the rest of it, no was just pretty much as I expected.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, unfortunately that only lasted maybe six, seven hours at the most?
Alex: Yeah, it was very short.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: By the time it build and faded out. Good ride.
Alex: Can you imagine that ride all the way up from Sydney? How good would that have been? I think it would’ve been awesome.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: I think that’s called the Keppel race.
Alex: Yes, exactly. That’s 30 knots, 30 knots, 30 knots.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: It changes everything when it’s got pressure all the time. Okay, what about you Rick?
Rick: I was never scared or felt unsafe or anything. I had full confidence in the crew or you as a helmsman. But I’ve been off shore with enough of you and we’ve been up to things like Mooloolaba or whatever. Okay, they’re not as long but everyone knows their job and gets to it and does it. So yeah, I was never scared or unsafe there.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, I think the boat bangs and crashes off stuff, the more you realize that’s just the norm and it can handle it. If you haven’t heard for a while, it can be a bit unnerving to start with when you start falling off the odd wave and crashing along and the funny thing is there’s plenty of noise downstairs, and you think, “What is going on upstairs?” But you go upstairs and it’s just a tack. But downstairs you’d swear that somebody’s ripping the bows out of the boat when you tack. That noise is horrendous.
Ocean Gem Crew: That’s a very quiet boat. Anything above five knots of speed, it just sounds like a cyclone above.
Ocean Gem Crew: It’s crazy. I actually made a comment of how quiet this boat downstairs.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: It’s called a thick heavy hull.
Ocean Gem Crew: It’s like the hot shower. Very enjoyable.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: When was the time you did an ocean race where you had a hot shower two or three days and ate fine dining the whole way? Okay, so given your background, I’m sure there wasn’t any sort of scary moments for you? But at some point did you just wish you had stayed home and given the race a miss?
Ocean Gem Crew: It was hard to get through a few moments, like I just hate going slow and we went slow and then we went ultra-slow and then we went backwards and then we actually past a rock and then it past us. So that’s how ultra-slow we were going. Only fear that I had was more about how much food we had because on the last day we’re just eating biscuits because we’d run out of food. You just weren’t sure why someone was actually staring you down.
If your arm looked quite tasty or what? So no great fear on sailing but yeah. I’m glad we had just enough food to get us home and no more holes in breeze because that could have been easily an extra night.
Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, I did suggest to Eli that he starts holding up his arm.
Eli: That’s about the only time I thought, “Oh today, I wished I’d stayed home.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, we have plenty of gas to cook whatever we were able to acquire, no fishhooks. Okay, so Eli, what about you?
Eli: Yeah, other from trying to eat my arm, it was pretty good.
Ocean Gem Crew: When we got overtaken by Fish Rock, kind of wish I stayed home.
Eli: Yeah, that was a bit disheartening but as for unsafe, not really, everything was pretty good, we didn’t really have much wind so I couldn’t really get too out of control. It was all pretty good.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Fish Rock was probably the pinnacle of whoever was on the helm was really unlucky because he’s just sailing these lines that are going up and down the same line, everyone else is giving him advice. He’s trying to get the boat moving and in three knots with a strong current, there’s nowhere to go except for back to the foresail on the main line, just not to go backwards.
Eli: Three knots was a gust.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Then other boats somehow came through.
Eli: Well I went to sleep for four hours, praying that when I woke up, we’d be somewhere further up the coast. We were further back than when I went to sleep and that was pretty bad.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: You need to sleep for eight hours. Okay. Cool, Shaya, what was different about the race to what you expected. I’m on a recurring theme here.
Shaya: Well, like I’d done it a little bit of sailing at night before and I’m new, I think I knew what to expect in terms of sleep and that it’s not always comfortable and that for sort of thing. I just didn’t think that sometimes we wouldn’t move. I thought surely we’re sailing along the coast, there will be wind all the time but there wasn’t. That was the most surprising part. The rest I think I just went with an open mind thinking whatever happens, happens and I’ll try and get used to it. Yeah, that was pretty much it, the wind
Ocean Sailing Podcast: It’s clear this podcast is about answering all these different question with the same answer all the way. The lack of it.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s all right.
Shaya: Like the journal in me sort of came out a few times when something was a bit hard, it was like, “Oh, this is good for the story or by far overboard,” I have a better story. Sometimes it worried me but at the same time yeah, not too much.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, cool. Alex, what was different to your expectations.
Alex: Look I suppose being exposed to the calibre of racing yachts out of the CYC just the boats, like the TP 52’s, those DK 46’s, whatever they were just seeing that racing hull with all the carbon. Just the speed of those boats that was just wow. That really blew me away and I wasn’t expecting to see such acceleration and such movement in open water from boats like that in light winds. That really blew me away.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, good. Rick, what about you? What was different of what you expected?
Rick: The timeframe. Literally how long it actually took for such a short distance and how long it took to get down.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Especially the trip down, two days and four hours.
Rick: We killed it, turned around, and stopped. Yeah, that’s the only thing that really I suppose was really unexpected.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, Steve?
Steve: Mine’s a little bit different. The unexpected was having a hot shower, day two I think it was and I think I led the charge on that one then because we actually used a fair bit of water, we just made or own water. So I’m not used to the luxuries of a cruising, a star race boat and took full advantage of it. I must say, having a comfy bed, having a dry bed, having a dry boat, it was just great. It would be great if we could have all of those experiences and did it in two days but I’m sure we had a much better race than some of the guys on this ultra-fast boats that were expecting it to be over in a day because I did hear that those guys ran out of food. That was after one night. At least we had enough for three nights. Yeah, mine was the other way of how good is this. Great food, comfortable, happy days.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, that’s a good point, because when you say that, “I think I’m going to have a shower.” I thought you were joking. We’re sitting there, we’ve got hot water because we have to run to use the radio to use the radio and so then to suddenly go, “Why not?” Then everyone followed I think. “Are we having a hot shower? Who is next?”
Ocean Gem Crew: You’re welcome.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: So yeah, that’s good. Okay what about you Eli, what was different to what you expected?
Eli: Yeah, the food was way better than I expected. I don’t know what I expected but it was pretty good. I was like, fine dining, calm water, you know. It was pretty relaxed, it was good.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: We were just was thinking like the red wine or…
Ocean Gem Crew: I was going to say, you expected wine.
Eli: Yeah, it wasn’t that. I didn’t expect no alcohol on the boat at all. I don’t know if I should say that on the podcast, blasted around the world but it’s easy, semi-cruising boat.
Ocean Gem Crew: Even on the way down, when we’re in such a hurry to get out of there because we had four hour turnaround from Sunday night to Monday morning. Same thing on the way down, we didn’t even think about it to run away, that was two days. But yeah, coming back, we normally would have a bit of a sun downer or something, especially in fine weather.
Ocean Gem Crew: I suppose we expected it to last a lot shorter than that. When you’re sitting there looking at the same rock, it might be nice to have a beer.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: If we had beer on board, we would have quickly made a rule that as long as we becalmed it’s okay to have beer, it would been gone. So good point. Okay. Shaya, how did you enjoy your 24/7 life on board while you were racing?
Shaya: I really liked it to be honest. I don’t know, it was just really different to what you get at home, you come out on deck and like millions of stars and there’s whales and there’s dolphins and it’s just so different, but it’s so enjoyable at the same time. Yeah, I was surprised by how much I liked it.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Had you done anything like that before?
Shaya: I did, we were on a sail boat for three weeks in the Amazon but there wasn’t much wind so it was still life on board where you had to do watches and that sort of thing. I enjoyed that as well. So I knew that that wouldn’t be the tough part.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: You kept that little adventure up your sleeve didn’t you?
Ocean Gem Crew: That was very quiet.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Up the Amazon, we’ve all done that. Okay, that’s cool. Alex, what about you?
Alex: Look, I really did enjoy the 24/7 lifestyle of the boat. It’s interesting, everything sort of compresses, it’s sort of like almost like a little society that’s compressed in time because everybody’s got their own little personalities and what was really good about our crew was that we all got on so well and everybody supported each other and because you’ve got that watch system happening and you virtually I think Steve you said at one stage, the life becomes sleep, food and sitting on the rail.
We didn’t get a chance to sit much on the rail because of the wind again, but you sort of get into that routine and everybody was out there sort of helping and supporting and rotating and doing what needed to be done that I loved every minute of that 24/7.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, that’s good. It is an important part, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of that because I’ve been in groups, either on camps or on boats where there’s just one or two thorns in the side and people get irritated after a while if everything’s not going their way. So that sort of team spirit and ability to get along, that means a lot of as the days tick on and the frustrations start to build.
Alex: Yeah I mean there’s not a lot of room on the boat, everybody’s in very close proximity to everybody else, you know? They’ve all got to go for a piss over the rail if need be and eat and sleep and belch and burp and fart and everything else that happens then.
Ocean Gem Crew: He’s speaking for himself.
Alex: Yeah, and no one complained.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s right, that’s right. Okay, that’s good, what about you Rick?
Rick: I enjoyed it, I agree with Alex in saying that everyone got along really well and they did, they knew what was required of them but also they sort of went out of their way to make sure that everyone else was happy. If they look like they’re a bit down, take over a bit of their tasks that everyone worked together really well and I know Shaya says we’re all thrown together as strangers. Well we weren’t really that. We weren’t at the end of it, that’s for sure. Everyone I think sort of cemented their friendship and understanding of the other person.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, I mean that’s a good point because you can work with somebody but then going to be 24, 48 hours with them and they could be a different somebody to the eight hours you spend with them occasionally.
Ocean Gem Crew: Especially without a drink, you know?
Ocean Sailing Podcast: I think I lost a few kilos on that trip actually. Not planned, but there you go, healthy. Okay, what about you Steve? Well you covered quite a few of your luxuries.
Steve: Yeah. As you probably heard. I enjoyed it a lot and being on a long race or what turned out to be a long race was actually quite good because it did actually gel us as a crew as well. So we had more time and we had more time to chat, more time to learn each other’s skills and how we live. Personally I sleep more on the boat in a three hour shift on and off than I do in a night on land.
So that and the Stugeron helped in that as well. But yeah, I love it. It’s even though it was a lot longer than expected, it was still a great time, it was just hanging out and we just had more time to hang out than we did in those big wind holes.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Where by the end of it, it was like, “Okay, no wind. Who wants to sleep? And wake me when there’s wind.” I think some of us must have got about 12 hours a day by the end, in terms of sleep, which is great. You might as well be asleep than sort of sitting around getting frustrated waiting for wind.
Steve: Or in some cases, “Wake me when it’s time for a sail change.” It was exactly right.
Ocean Gem Crew: Then back down stairs.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, okay, that’s good. So Eli, what about you?
Eli: Yeah, with that 24/7 lifestyle, you kind of build that camaraderie and you get really close with everyone and by the end you kind of a family and that’s quite enjoyable, that’s quite amazing and you get back and you’re all more than friends. You’re all pretty solid and it was a good crew, there was no thorns or someone you’d kick off the boat if you had the chance. No, it was great.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, that’s a good point. You normally get some time together. It’s amazing I thing just settle onto a daily routine; breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a bit of wind in between.
Steve: I got a lot of sleep. I slept better than I do at home as well, so you’re not the only one Steve. Yeah, maybe more.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, Shaya. So I’m going to rephrase this question, what was it that started to get on your nerves by the end of the trip, if there was one thing?
Shaya: Well initially I thought it’s like when I first heard I was the only girl in the boat, I was like, “Oh my, everything’s going to get on my nerves,” but at the end it was just the wind, everything else was fine, it was pretty good.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: After you’ve been on the boat a few days, everything slows down anyway. All the day to day stuff you’ve got to [inaudible] kind of behind you really, apart from a text message. But yeah, life’s quite simple on the boat really, as long as you get along. What about you Alex?
Alex: Yeah look, the only thing that got on my nerves was lack of wind. It’s the prevailing theme, you just get moving, everything’s happening, you’ve had sail change, you’ve trimmed it up, you’re getting up to eight knots, everything’s going well and then within half an hour it’s dead and you’re back sitting around lulling around. That was like, “Ah!”.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay. Something different?
Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah I was going to say nothing got on my nerves, I don’t think I just accepted that there’s no wind and that was life. There’s nothing we can do about it, and that’s just luck. You got bananas on board, you’ve got bananas on board.
Ocean Gem Crew: And we did, we found one.
Ocean Gem Crew: Oh there were more.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Clearly there must have been, right? Does a banana [inaudible] as well?
Ocean Gem Crew: Oh, there is a dessert.
Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah I think I was pretty chilled out for the whole race really.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: One thing I saw that started to get on people’s nerves, is if you try to steer the boat and know that it’s not moving and you try your best and then another comes back giving you advice, like I was going to do that. You think, “Oh maybe this — someone else do it,” and then do now better. Well maybe we go from two and a half to three and a half, you could just get the boat moving again. But it was so wind dependent. It’s just that line that’s below three and a half knots, there’s almost nothing you can do.
Ocean Gem Crew: That’s sailing for you. You’ve had that here on a twilight where we haven’t even finished a race.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Several time.
Ocean Gem Crew: You just have to learn to accept it I suppose. Move ahead hopefully.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: At least the weather was 20 something degrees, it’s not like it was raining or it wasn’t really cloudy, it wasn’t cold. I’m sure there’s tougher ways to have no wind.
Ocean Gem Crew: I really thought that you showed exemplary patients when there was no wind, you’d be at the helm looking for a sail change, looking for a shift and you were just positive, pumped and we’re all sitting around and going, “Ah there’s no wind,” and you were there going, “Yes, there’s a breeze coming in, let’s get the sail done, let’s put the boat this way.” Hundred meters away and I looked at you and I thought, “All right, this guy’s got it, he’s working, he’s working.”
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Day four when you hear that for the 29th time you’d say this guy’s lost it.
Ocean Gem Crew: You kept going which is great, from a team point of view that was just fantastic.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: I think it’s important because it would be fair to say, by the time we had the last bloody hole at Coolangatta on 7 o’clock in the morning before we finished the race, I was thinking, “We’re going to vote. Surely it’s going to be unanimous. Let’s just retire.” But we did it.
Ocean Gem Crew: Well at some stage we were going to have bacon and eggs for breakfast weren’t we?
Ocean Sailing Podcast: We were going to pre-order it ahead. I think Eli said, “It doesn’t matter if we’re at it for a month, we’re going to finish this damn race.”
Ocean Gem Crew: Breakfast by 8:40 it was at one stage?
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, it’s tough. Okay, can we cover you on that one?
Ocean Gem Crew: It’s probably all the same.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Anything for anybody else?
Ocean Gem Crew: No. It was a good test of character because being sailors, you’re supposed to be able to deal with light winds, you can’t just go, “All right, throw the anchor out,” or what we prefer to do is, drink alcohol or something like that in a pretty serious race. It’s the second biggest off shore race in Australia. You can’t just give up. You have to get the boat moving and frustrating wise, it just isn’t going to happen under two knots.
So same old frustration, wind. But that’s sort of what we do, we’re sailors and its wind dependent. So it’s a good test of character to not give up, to keep actually going because in some cases, that is the difference between like moving forward a mile and not moving forward a mile. It’s easy to say, “It’s the light boats,” and in this case, it was but in other cases, it could be, you’ve just given up, you’re not on the ball, you’re not leaning the boat over, and you’ve not got the right sales up or something like that.
So it’s a good test and what we have coming up, even though the Sydney to Hobart’s a heavier wind race. Absolutely guarantee, we will have a hull. A dead patch where we’re doing exactly what we just did and that’s when we need to go, “We’ve done this, we got two knots of speed out of three knots of wind, we know how to do it, now we know what angle to point the boat all that sort of stuff. Whilst it gets on your nerve, you have to look at it for what it is and choose to actually make it an opportunity to build character, to build skill and go from there.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, that’s a really good point because we tried lots of sail combinations and we had lots of different wind streams and there’s times we got the boat moving in a certain breeze, there’s time that we didn't. It was a really good learning exercise, you never get to test that many combinations over that many days and be able to retain it in an off shore race when it’s like five, or six hours. You just don’t. So yeah, it’s a great lesson on persistence.
The race was like 93 hours long or something, somebody said? Well even if it’s just three of those hours, if you can give two knots and others are doing nothing, six miles at the end of the day can be the difference between somewhere and nowhere or can be the difference between finishing or hitting the next wind hull because you haven’t got home yet which is pretty much what happened to us. So yeah, that’s a really good point, okay. What about you Eli?
Eli: Just refers back to no wind probably the 29th time, put the code zero up because the wind had built from zero knots to one knot, that started to get a bit tedious and get on my nerves but it was great training. Sometimes we did get the boat moving from doing that, sometimes we didn’t. Either way we tried something and I’ve put a code zero up a lot more times than when I started.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s the most we’ve done in the whole of the last 12 months..
Eli: Change sails. So it was sort of great training but it might have got a bit tedious.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: I think on your 49th and sail change I did it for you because I just figured it was just…
Eli: You don’t want to bring me up from my sleep again.
Ocean Gem Crew: How good are we at sail changes?
Eli: Yeah, it was great training.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Actually, by the end of it, we were like, well I know everybody when we were a third of the way through it we were like Steve said, people in the cockpit are anticipating what you need because they know it, they’re not waiting for you to holler, “Ease this, ease that, let this go.” It was starting to happen quite fluidly.
Eli: Yeah that’s true actually, at the start there was a lot of shouting back from the bow to let things off and by the end, it was all done as I’d go to grab for sheets. They were already off and free so I could do what I needed with them or have the how you tied on and you’d be going up before I called for it. Perfect. It’s good training and nice weather for it.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah absolutely. Okay, Shaya, what were your key highlights?
Shaya: The finish line was pretty good. That we did it and that we got through it all but the start I found really impressive as well, with all the other boats because I had never done anything like it. So to have Wild Oats XI on the side and all these others. Yeah I found that impressive. So I’d say probably the start and the finish. Heaps of stuff in the m middle as well like the whales and the food was also really, really good but yeah.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: So to summarise, if you can start, see a whale, eat something and finish that would be the perfect race for you?
Ocean Gem Crew: All inside one hour.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, half an hour or an hour.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, that’s good, thank you. What about you Alex? What were your highlights?
Alex: Look, my highlights were the whole ocean racing experience. Pretty much the build up at the dock, at the CYC like you could see the more people arriving from the Friday to the Saturday then on Saturday there’s a big crowd, there’s TV crews, there’s helicopters starting to fly around and you could just feel the buzz and you sort of can’t help but get caught up in that buzz and like Shaya, the start was amazing, at that one stage, I looked to my left and there’s Wild Oats, you look up and there’s about 10 stories of sail going up and then at another point, I looked over my other shoulder and they’re Scallywag, it’s just a wall of black carbon sail right next to you and just watching this boats power past. It was just great. The whole thing was just fantastic.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, it’s pretty exhilarating. Besides being in and amongst that really, it’s hard to explain.
Alex: Just the buzz on the harbour. After we started and the spinnaker was up and things settled down and I mean, everyone’s like really pumped up looking left and right, seeing where there’s a hole to move in to, where the gap is, where the congestion was, where that collision was up near Watsons Bay, we dodged that really well and just sort of being in the zone I guess, we were at the start there, it was just all happening really nice, that was fantastic. If you could relive that every weekend it would be wonderful.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Exactly. Okay, great, thank you.
Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, the highlights I suppose, as Alex was saying again, the buzz at the club. There’s always a buzz there in front of the big race. My brother did a Sydney to Hobart a few years ago and yeah, it was just going off. So this isn’t as big but it was still there. The start was good with all the boats calling starboard to boats that we probably shouldn’t be calling starboard to, things like that and then one night we had the kite up and we had a bit of wind and that was fun. You had everyone now on the rails at the back corner, they’re just keeping it down and we were just flying along and that was a good night sail.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, that was fun. That was really thrilling. Gives you a taste of what’s possible if we just [inaudible]. But yeah, that was fun.
Ocean Gem Crew: A lot of fun.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, thank you. Steve.
Steve: I’ve got two things, the adrenaline on the start, I was helping Dave with the tactics and like what I said before, 75 boats, lots of coin out there and all on the one line, which was about half the size of the finish line which was ironic. But with wind that changed through about 90 degrees with about five minutes to go before the start and having to change tactics and just adrenaline pumping, calling Dave through on the line on port and there’s moments there, do we go behind or in front and then sort of jiving, in fact I think we ended up tacking around to go back on starboard and then looking back to two thirds of the fleet behind us, including boats that have a multimillion dollar check thrown at them every year to just go faster and here’s us, a little old cruising boat, out in front of them and we got a few photos. Which is great.
So having two thirds of fleet behind us and just watching them come through, which was fantastic and then we followed our routes that we planned off the weather route we got, went out wide and I think we were probably the widest boat there for a while and because we had breeze and because we had a great route, we ended up coming first at that point in time, which is probably where we should have actually gone and said, “Well we’ve done it now, a portion of the race, only had about 300 miles to go. They weren’t going to shorten the course on us unfortunately but that was nice going from a great start to then leading our division in two divisions.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: I’d say maybe e12th out of 75, 24 hours in which was as good as it got.
Steve: Really cool for what was really a training exercise for us to get us to the next line and really getting a result to start with then three days later it’s slightly different. But those three days were probably more important than the first 12 hours. So yeah, they’re the highlights for me.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, you did a great job at start because I never would have planned on being at the pin end, on port with a style like that. It’s not where you want to be normally.
Steve: Well it generally costs you more money than me too.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Well he actually find this hole and said, “There’s a hole there.”
Steve: We’ll take that.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: There’s a big hole but isn’t there someone to fill it? It took maybe 10 minutes into the race then Black Jack came through and you think, “Oh shit, we did get a good start. This boat should have been off and gone.” So yeah, it was excellent. Okay.
Rick: Yeah, the start. Having spinnakers up in front of Black Jack and having them come cruising past five, 10 minutes later. That felt pretty good. The shadow of Scallywag coming over and just hearing this noise, and looking up as we were about to put the spinnaker up and there she is. Just huge, it was amazing. Highlight of my life. It was unreal. Blew me away. I never thought I’d be on a start like that with 75 other boats and boats of that caliber.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Being in the thick of it.
Ocean Gem Crew: Riding in the thick of it. I had to keep my mind on the job and not gawk too much, everything around me.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: I was going to say, there must be a bit of damage caused by crew members taking photos rather than taking photos and taking selfies and everything else on the job?
Ocean Gem Crew: I’d be guilty of that, in a quiet moment I had
Ocean Sailing Podcast: We’re okay because we didn’t have any damage but you see a video footage of broken spinnaker poles and spinnakers flying out the back of the boat, you wonder how the crew had time to take the footage. Okay, cool, So Shaya. Let’s try not to meet you on the W this time but what were your low points other than wind?
Shaya: Probably where they say, yeah. Just because you know that you’ll have to pull your weight because there’s different jobs around the boat and that if everyone’s stays positive that plays a big part and then being seasick you sort of want to curl up into a little ball and sort of do nothing but you still got to do everything. Well not everything but I still played a part in a crew I guess that I found out a bit tough.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, okay. With sea sickness, it happens to most of us at some point and the best thing you can do is gear and well and best thing the crew can do is support you while you get yourself well.
Shaya: Yeah, which I was really well not surprised, but I thought you guys were awesome as well because when it wasn’t feeling too well, I was falling asleep on the spot, there was always someone to say, you know, “You go have a sleep, I’ll take over on this,” and yeah, that helped a lot.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: that’s good. Okay, Alex? Low points?
Alex: I don’t think I had any low points because like I said, I’m really keen to ocean sail and race and stuff and the whole lot was just enjoyable but if you had to say, “Well if you had to pick anything, what would you pick?” I’d probably say when we had that really good run with the storm that last night and then we got up to Cook Island and we’d already organised breakfast for 8:40. We’d already just about sent the text ahead, we’re going to be home soon, I can smell breakfast and to physically see the finish line and to sit there for those hours that we did, that was like, “Okay, this is sending a message, this is a real test of patience, how are we going to handle it?”
We handled it really well, Eli went for a swim, we got surrounded by dolphins and whales and really it wasn’t a low point in the end, you just had to sort of adjust your thinking and to me it was literally that. Change your attitude, adjust your thinking and make the most of it. Low points, no. There weren’t any.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: To put it into context, we got to the point where you could see the finish line, it’s probably an hour and a half away sailing time and we sat there becalmed for another four hours, staring at the finish line off in the distance. Realising our bacon needs weren’t going to end.
Alex: That I think was the ultimate test like you can understand being becalmed at Smokey or those other places but when we had already had the wind, there’s the finish line. Why did the wind stop?
Ocean Gem Crew: Because that’s sailing.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah. Okay, thank you. Rick?
Rick: I didn’t have any low points, I enjoyed the whole trip, it’s as easy as that. I thrive on it, love it.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s good, okay.
Ocean Gem Crew: I’ll second that motion, we’re really living the dream. We’re out on the boat, showering, eating well, got dolphins and whales, we probably saw 30 or 40 whales and heaps of dolphins and people pay good money for that so I’m living the dream.
Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah it was pretty awesome, maybe got to steer it to rock a bit too much maybe but other than that, I enjoyed it a lot. There wasn’t really too many low points.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Was there any point which the sail changes started to become low points?
Ocean Gem Crew: No. I love it up there. It was all training and as gruelling as it can be, when you’re half asleep and you’ve just been woken up at three in the morning because the wind’s increased to three knots and they want the spinnaker, it’s all training. No it was good. No real low points other than Fish Rock.
Ocean Gem Crew: It was just repetitive, the sail changing not a low point.
Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, just repetitive.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: You’re pretty enthusiastic so it would be fair to say, I’ve sailed with lots of people that are very unenthusiastic when it comes to sail changes and you get to the point where you don’t want to ask them because their reaction but you are always 99 times out of a hundred, you're enthusiastic.
Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, more than one, I think that was one of those pretty… I was a bit half a sleep.
Ocean Gem Crew: We didn’t change anyway so I didn’t know that.
Ocean Gem Crew: That was it actually, that was the low point up to change.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: I came to relieve you to say you can go to bed now and you just got the companion and I said, “Can you just change the sail before you go to bed?” You had to come back out, you were psyched and you were headed for bed and then suddenly, we didn’t even change sails in the end. I just had to stand around.
Ocean Gem Crew: He actually said that. He said that before you went down and it’s like, watch this, I’ll do this to him.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Five minute rule became new rule. Okay, cool. Shaya, what do you think your biggest contribution to the team was?
Shaya: I guess photos? I don’t know. I don’t think I contributed as much as everyone else.
Ocean Gem Crew: You got a cool article in the paper, that was pretty good effort.
Shaya: Yeah, I think just photos.
Ocean Gem Crew: I think your contribution grew over the four days, the last few days you were the first to jump on anything. When we said we were going to do anything, you were like, “Great, which winch, which halliard, which sheet? So your enthusiasm grew.
Ocean Gem Crew: No, it was drugs. She was running a pit by the end of it.
Ocean Gem Crew: Yeah, she was.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah you were steering the boat by the end of it, I saw that the paper. it must be true. Okay. Cool, Alex?
Alex: I guess what I think my biggest contribution was basically backing up all the other team members, if something needed to be done, I was sort of trying to be in there helping if I could, at no point did I try and sort of sit back on the rail and take it easy, it was like get in there and get it done and I think that can be said for pretty much everybody and that’s what made it such a great experience that everyone was in there committed and pitching in.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: You did lunches really well and you did the radio skits really well. That helped a lot. Because sometimes there’s just jobs you do well and he’ll be like, “Okay, he’s done a great job, just leave him to it and the theory is you rotate everything but doesn’t work that way. So it’s better that na assembly do something well?
Alex: Yeah, the Scheds, that’s obviously first time I’ve ever done Scheds and I really enjoyed it, it was a good experience and because I hadn’t done it, before I was quite happy to put my hand up and say, when you said, “Can you do it?” I said, “Yeah, I’ll do it. Just for the experience,” and it was good.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, it was good, it was actually something I was worried, given some of the HF radio problems we were having with people, well being able to hear people. out of there, people we could hear vaguely okay, we ended up having voice, great calls and everything just been…
Alex: Do you remember like that, first radio call it went, I could actually, like sitting down stairs, everything went silent up in the cockpit. Everybody stopped talking and then when I did my skit and they replied, there was clapping and cheering from up in the cock pit there, yes, the HF works.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: With the HF and the satellite phone, and what to do. So we need some awesome technology.
Alex: Yeah, so all the backup plans were ready but it was just some relief, we didn’t have to use them and the HF was clear as a whistle.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s good. Okay, what about you?
Ocean Gem Crew: I hope I contributed just by being there for everyone, willing to do anything, any time, I even went up the front. Call you out once.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: You did.
Ocean Gem Crew: Give him a break but yeah, I don’t sort of say I did anything fantastic or anything like that. I just hope I was there for anyone that needed it.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Was just the fab you had with the helm for hours on end, happy to sit on the rails, Happy to leach others the route, happy to teach others.
Ocean Gem Crew: It’s part of the job.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: It’s great having you happily do whatever’s required. Some peoples specialise in some things and some people with say, “I’m not even doing that, also, that’s my rig, get out because you don’t. There’s people that are quite protective so it’s good to have people that are willing to just do whatever it takes and change break as well so it’s good. Okay, Steve.
Steve: Hopefully I could just share my experience and give everyone a bit of a heads up on what to expect, probably not so much in sea state and winds and all that sort of thing on this trip but even just food and sleep and sea sickness and all the stuff that I’ve been through and done on these style races and more so that the unknown becomes the known. Like what I said to Shaya who was concerned about sea sickness said, I’m assuming I’ll actually get sick for the first day or two.
I almost embrace it this days, a way to lose five kilos in three days. I think it’s more of a mind game than anything else, that if you let it get you down and it can destroy it where as if you go, you feel great afterwards and it’s good for weight loss and you can make more after it and have a bit of a drink and then you’re fine. Even those sorts of experiences hopefully that can help everyone else because it can be terrifying thing.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, the stuff that you really helped with on the start line was in and around that was excellent. The tin foil trays with the food, how good was that? They just popped dinner in the oven and heat it and come back to it 45 minutes later, not standing over a pot like we historically did.
Steve: All those sorts of things will really be tested when we actually have some rough conditions and then the next step from that is, “Well we’re not eating meals like tonight because it’s too rough. Anything that fits in your hand, that’s what we’re having for dinner. It can be an apple or it could be a quiche or something that fits in the palm of your hand, to protect that from the salty spray and then that’s what you eat. It’s sort of all those things that you’ve learned from having a soggy sandwich or a bowl full of food that has sea water in it. If that could save anyone then happy days.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: You need to paint a better picture if you’re going to get Shaya to come down with this.
Steve: No, she’s got the drugs now, it’s all good.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, what about you Eli?
Eli: Changing sails, that’s probably the biggest contribution, just getting it up there and changing sails.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Well that’s a really big contribution, it was great, just give it 100% without doing that.
Ocean Gem Crew: I’d also add to that too. And there was good times to test even though the winds weren’t as high as what we probably expected or, we did have times we were like majorly overpowered and the boat was on the land and it had to do sail changes and all that sort of thing. Both Eli and Sean were up there on a big angle. It’s not so much, “I’m able change the sail but I’m willing to go up at night time when the boat’s on a massive heel and do it, flake the sail, hold on for dear life, do all that because not everyone can do that. So the sail change sort of thing is part of it but the balls to get up there and actually do it is a big part as well. That was a good part of the crew, had that same attitude, it was great.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: To put in context, it’s 75% of the race actually did have wind. It maybe 20% of the race, 50% of the race made lots of wind. Even though the cabinets kind of dominate our thoughts, we were moving 75% of the time. That’s a long 25%. Okay, cool. Shaya, what else do you want to share or comment on in terms of something else you want to share with us?
Shaya: I guess I just wanted to say thanks for you didn’t, you guys didn’t really know me, I hadn’t done much sailing with you guys and just let me come on the boat and sort of embrace the whole photo side of things and shed your stories and yeah, just really appreciate it. So I guess just thank you.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Well, you’re welcome, and you’re definitely the nicest journalist we’ve ever met.
Ocean Gem Crew: I’ve only met two.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Oh no. I’ve met a ew. So thanks for taking such an open minded view of the whole experience because you could easily write a story and say, “This sailing life sucks. You sit there going backwards and it’s boring.
Ocean Gem Crew: I’m pretty sure we thought she was going to do that.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, Alex?
Alex: I just wanted to share that ocean sailing just being on the water is such a wonderful experience. I had sort of some preconceived ideas about what spending that amount of time on the water would be like but it was just such a positive experience, particularly the nights where we had those nights where it was just stars blazing from horizon to horizon and you can actually hear the slip stream of the water against the hull and no other sound, that was just fantastic.
For me, one of the big highlights was just the camaraderie that amongst everybody that was sitting on the rail or in the cockpit on watch during those nights. It was just — look, thoroughly enjoyed it. Anybody that ever wants to take up ocean racing, I would highly recommend it to anybody because it’s a chance to get out in nature and something that is such a beautiful place but the same time, we’ve all got a little bit of competitive spirit. You can just sort of keep that going and be out in the wild blue yonder. It’s just fantastic. I just love it.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s great, thank you. What about you Rick?
Rick: Yeah, I think that everyone should try something like this just the experience of, as Alex’s saying, being out there. Whether it’s sailing in the bay or whatever but just sailing full stop I think is an experience that has to be done. I suppose I’m a bit bias that being brought up next to the water but the sailing is the first step and then the racing, so you’re mixing two things together, that’s recommended to anyone and everyone.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: The irony with off shore racing. It’s actually quite relaxing, probably 75% of the time and probably difficult or terrified probably 25% of the time depending on how the weather goes. But it’s not as demanding as racing in Cairns, there’s lots of long periods of quite enjoyable increasing the moment and relaxing really. Okay, thank you. Steve.
Steve: A couple of things. I’d say that one comment is we’re saying all this and we’re saying the wind was bad and woe is me, but we’re actually very blessed to actually go out on a boat with a whole lot of money and sail the seas and see whales and dolphins and we had fun, there was no doubt we had fun. My sailing passion started when I was 12 years old and it came from a dream of my dad that when he had cancer when he was in his 30’s, he said, “If I survive this I’m going to buy a boat and learn to sail.” So he actually did that, he survived and bought a boat, only problem was he realised he didn’t know how to sail.
So that’s where I came into it and he enrolled me to a yacht club and it took off from age 12 onwards and I enjoyed racing and all that sort of thing. It’s something that you can’t just buy a car and go for a drive, you actually have to have the skills and it’s something that most people don’t take on at this stage in life, they got to live it from day to day. That’s probably the first thing that we’re very lucky doing this, there’s no doubt and the fact that Dave supplies the boat and food and fixes things up when we break it and all that sort of thing.
The second part is, this was really our ideal warm up for the Sydney to Hobart. Spending all that time together. Learning crew watches, learning how to live on a boat, doing all the sail changes all that sort of thing. We’ll probably line up one of the least experienced boat on the line for the Sydney to Hobart this year but we’ve experienced the crew work and everything we need, we don’t have the Sydney to Hobart’s under the belt like some teams have but we know that we’ll stand by each other, we know we can do stuff in heavy times and we know we can get there and we know the boat can get there, that’s the other thing. It’s a well maintained boat.
Put all that in as well as Dave’s passion for the sport and yeah, you only need to look at what he’s doing in the next two years. He’s either very passionate or close to being insane that there’s no doubt we will be in Hobart for New Year’s Eve this year and this is what we need. I’m sure a few days of heavy wind and all that sort of thing. We’ve had that in off shore race, we just haven’t had it for a long period of time. We’ll get there. It’s great prep for us.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, it’s really good point for a preparation point of view because you can do a one day race and virtually no sleep and there’s nothing like a multi-day race where you have to have watch systems, you can’t have one person doing one job the whole time and all this things are getting tested, that’s a really good point. Okay, thank you. Eli.
Eli: The crew work was great and everyone had each other’s backs, you’d be tired or a bit down or get moody because it’s three in the morning, you’ve been awake all night and someone would have your back, send you to bed even when you wouldn’t send yourself to bed. So it was a great test of the crew and I think we will do really well, great skipper, great helmsman, everyone chipped in, everywhere, good test to the gear as well. I found some serious flaws in some of my gear, water proof gloves that aren’t really water proof, stuff like that you know? Yeah. That’s about it, just a good test and I think we did well and it was great, a lot of fun.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: I agree, I mean in terms of just the fact that we great supportive group and had a sense of humour all the way through and even if one person was feeling a bit down six people and get the move back up, if we’ve got that kind of attitude and we were versatile cross trained and for me to try a thing and we supported each other and then anything’s possible really and that kind of group’s going to succeed more for the a lot, kind of succeed all the time, you can’t succeed if you don’t have a good supportive group that works well together and that we are lucky to be able to get out there and great piece of ocean and great climate and sail.
So if you can have fun and do it with who you enjoy doing it with then that just makes it perfect experience. Okay, I’m going to roll the last two questions into one because just conscious of time. Just sailing with you Shaya, what do you think we need to prepare or pack or do differently or change for the Sydney to Hobart based on anything you might have observed that wasn’t quite as operating as smoothly as it could have or gaps and things that were lacking?
Shaya: No, I think maybe an extra day of food just in case you get stuck out there. That’s pretty much it. The team work was great, I don’t know much about equipment but nothing really failed on us. So it always seemed like pretty perfect on that point. That’s the only thing I can really think of.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, maybe waterproof camera for you for Sydney to Hobart.
Shaya: Yeah, that would be great. And a water proof notebook as well.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah. Especially if you’re having to file your [inaudible] before you get there.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: No, that won’t. It won’t be a slow race. Okay, cool. Thank you. Alex?
Alex: I thought it was quite funny when we’re thinking about if we’re going to be out here for another night, we’re going to be start running out of food and at one stage, we were talking about fish hooks and fishing lines and someone mentioned that, “Ah there’s fish hooks and lines in the life raft. So if we go hungry, we know we won’t have to break into the life raft and get the fish hook. I’d probably take a hair line and a fish hook in those quiet moments, bring a couple of coral trout or something on board.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah. Okay, cool. Rick, what will you do differently for Sydney Hobart?
Rick: I think we are working very well together as a team at the moment. There’s no doubt about that. We got on together, I suppose the Sydney to Hobart, and we just have to be prepared for that start up the harbour. Then the finish up to Darwin because that’s the next spot.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s just a repeat actually isn’t it? This about last leg of our race if you’re doing it wrong.
Rick: I’ve got a client that’s done the Sydney to Hobart five times now and he says stick to the right, that’s what he said but we’re not saying that out to everyone else.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: That’s what he said. But we’re not saying that out to anybody else. Yeah, okay, cool, thanks Rick. What else have we got [inaudible] wise?
Rick: I think we’d probably got to make sure we don’t take everything on board from this light, long race into the Hobart, I go a bit crazy with food and because we are going to have heavy times. Food prep, use all the things we learned from this race but also have it designed so that we can sit on the rail for two and three days, eat three meals and all that sort of thing.
Live routes for our weather. So if we can get live data off the satellite phone because after two days of forecasts that we found on this four day race that the weather changed and our original route was probably not exactly right. So we probably need to adjust that as we go to ensure we are in the right spot. Yeah, we will definitely get the same conditions at time and to be able to do it, that’s a frustratingly slow part of the race. But we’ve learned a lot from that too. Happy days.
Ocean Gem Crew: One other thing probably we do need to pack is a bigger kite because…
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, I’m working on that, we should have it next week. Yeah, definitely sail more conditions that would even help. Okay. Eli?
Eli: I’ll probably re-waterproof my waterproof gloves just to make sure.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: You’re quite attached to those one.
Eli: Yeah, I’m feeling a little dry and then they’re wet and then just horrible. Nothing really, a couple of small changes with the way we run lines on the bow the knots we use, we are going to need to get the spinnaker sheets and braces spliced or using other night because it can jam in the end of the spinnaker pole and when we try to jive, I can’t get the line to drop out. I’ve looked into it and I know there’s another knot we can use.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: We just spliced them.
Eli: I think we had two spots blowing.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: The two part. Yeah.
Eli: I think so because they’re all bounce now which I think. Anyway, the ones on the brace are definitely by one and they get jammed every time and that’s not working, we need to get them re-spliced or is there a few other knots you can use that are a bit larger which hopefully won’t jam in the end like the bow one does?
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, let’s do that, because splice pull out?
Eli: No, not really, actually be stronger.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: The spinnaker part, and straight away and it’s not a good thing right?
Eli: No, they should be stronger than a knot. So if they’re done properly, done on this. They’re probably a fair bit older than the average knot wind they blew out.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Yeah, at least 12 months old.
Eli: Okay, that’s good.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: In fact, one of them we lost overboard and one to be replaced it’s pretty sit them on top. Yeah, splices are all fresh this time.
Eli: Yeah, they shouldn’t be blowing out.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay. We picked up from the safety order. We’re going to add latches to our floor boards so when we’re upside down.
Eli: “When we’re upside down.”
Ocean Sailing Podcast: So we don’t fall on our heads. In case we’re upside down. Saloon beds, we have to put some nets up on the bed so we got 10 foot off this so when you’re sleeping on one, take it off and leave it on the table.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Maybe a little lower table quite a bit of sort of storage area and then we’re going to put some stretching and hitting up on the fridge freezer. You can get nearly up on top and clip it on and all that stuff up the top doesn’t come flying off if we have a bit of a knockdown.
Ocean Gem Crew: The cradle for the life raft too.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Oh yeah, the cradle.
Ocean Gem Crew: A cradle for the Dan boy.
Eli: Yeah, rest in peace. The other thing was more area to hang up the crew gear.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: yes.
Eli: We sort of ran out of room and have the crew gear everywhere, we’re going to have an extra four people on board for the Hobart.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: We’ll have to reorganise that. Okay, has anybody got anything else they want to add before we wrap up?
Ocean Gem Crew: I think it was just a really good experience for everyone, everyone enjoyed it and we just like to say thank you David.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Pleasure.
Ocean Gem Crew: How about we turn it back on Dave? What’s your highs and lows of the race and what did you get out of it?
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Haven’t you noticed I’ve been dodging answers? The high points were definitely the starting a fleet of boats like that and getting off to a great start and staying out of trouble, which we said we were going to stay out of trouble. It’s along race. We didn’t have to get a great start. We got a great start, just the atmosphere was amazing at the club, seeing the history of the club of all these photos of all these racing at 9h45, that’s pretty cool. Yeah, I loved it.
I’ve done lots of sailing and it wasn’t racing with lack of wind and persistence pays off and I’ve done lots of racing where you don’t win because you win because the other guys gave up. You managed to just get yourself up the front of the fleet and before you know it, it’s running away. That was high. Just the whole crew, just the way we work together and gone on well and sort of the funny side of some of the most frustrating crazy setbacks that we had, that was really enjoyable.
In terms of low points, yeah, probably the only low point really and it wasn’t really a low point. It was just we sailed really well when we had plenty of breeze and saying when it started raining that there’s lighter boats we got to be moving away and they had the same challenges as us relative to the other competitors. Not really about testing ourselves but being able to say, “We started, we finished, and we had more than our fair share of reasonable breeze, to test ourselves. The moments where we did, we were climbing up the ladder and when the wind stopped we sort of received it gain.
Here’s what we need to get out of it. The boats in good shape, we had a great race, everyone worked together extremely well. At least we know now if you tweak a few things and then we’re in good shape on the next. It was excellent. The fact that it wasn’t easy was I thought was a good thing because otherwise if everything just goes easily and everything goes to plan, it’s easy not to look for what you can do better, it’s easy to gloss over some of the cracks but usually when things aren’t going well, the cracks show up. Especially with people and personalities. Especially when people get tired and frustrated and grumpy. I was quite impressed that we didn’t really have hardly any of that at all. Virtually none, which was just a reflection of everybody’s character and commitment to what we’re doing. So yeah, I thought it was great and the food was good, that helped a lot.
Ocean Gem Crew: It was unreal.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Good food at sea when you’re racing or cruising. Good food’s a highlight or a really big low light, so having good food was good. Shaya, anything else you want to add before we wrap up?
Shaya: No, that was all.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay. Thanks everybody, thanks for the race, thanks for coming out tonight for a couple of hours and having a chat, thanks for appearing on the Ocean Sailing Podcast, this will be the fastest kind of in the can to live, probably sometime [inaudible]. Looking forward to all the racing we’ve got ahead together over the coming months and I’m really excited about that.
Ocean Gem Crew: Bring on Sydney to Hobart.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Thanks for all of you.
Ocean Gem Crew: Thank you.
Ocean Gem Crew: Thanks David.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Okay, thanks Shaya, Enjoy the rest of your holiday.
Shaya: Thank you. See you next time.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: See you next time, we’re looking forward to that
Ocean Gem Crew: You’re roped in now.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Don’t worry, if we don’t hear from you, you’ll hear from us.
Shaya: Okay, sounds good, all right. Thank you, have a good night.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Thank you, you too. Take care.
Ocean Gem Crew: See you.
Ocean Sailing Podcast: Cool.
Ocean Gem Crew: Unreal.
Interviewer: David Hows
- Jun 23, 2018 Episode 52: David Smyth email
- May 2018
- December 2016
- Sep 28, 2016 Episode 23: Lisa Blair Show Notes
- Sep 28, 2016 Episode 22: Hamilton Island Race Week Show Notes
- Sep 28, 2016 Episode 21: Ian MacKenzie Show Notes
- Sep 18, 2016 Episode 20: Roger "Clouds" Badham Show Notes
- Sep 18, 2016 Episode 19: Ocean Gem Crew Show Notes
- Sep 17, 2016 Episode 18: Elise Currey Show Notes
- Aug 5, 2016 Episode 17: Gerry Fitzgerald Show Notes
- July 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016