Black and blue, scabs all over our legs and exhausted. That’s how we ended our first regatta. But what an experience that was! It all started a week ago when we met Jega, the owner of the boat and his crew. We did the team bonding over dinner, got our briefing, learned the theory of handling a spinnaker (completely new to us), got our team outfit and were ready to go! 👊🏻
The next day we met Kannu, an MC31 race boat. Let’s say she is different from what we are used to. She is a real race boat, a grand prix boat. Carbon all over, sophisticated design, many lines to trim the sails perfectly and fast. Really fast! In theory… Pretty soon we found out that Kannu is different from what anyone on the boat is used to. It took about an hour to hoist the main sail, lot of “no, no, no!!!”, “this way, this way, this way!!!”, “pull, pull, pull” to get Kannu sailing and once she was sailing the rudder broke… Rudderless we were bobbing around on this high-performance boat. And now what? 🤷🏼♀️
The engineer in Wouter woke up, who figured out that it was not the rudder (we would be sinking), but the connection. He found a way to steer the boat with two screwdrivers (!) and saw himself being promoted from bow boy to the helm. Well done. The screwdrivers were good enough to keep us away from shallow water, not to get us home. After a brilliant conversation (see below) we ended our first practice day being towed back to the marina… 😏
Crew: “Did the Marina confirmed they will pick us up?”
Crew: “Ok good. They are coming”
Captain: “I don’t know for sure”
Crew: “How come you are not sure if you got it confirmed?”
Captain: “Cause it’s Malaysia!!!”
Don’t know how Jega managed but few hours later he found, out of nowhere, a sail instructor and a guy from the national sail team of Malaysia who will be part of team Kannu! Go Jega! 😃
Unfortunately, by the time the rudder was fixed the day was over, so other than listening to all the hero stories at the bar we did not do much. It also meant that we would go straight into racing without any practice on a boat no one really understands… Oh well, we can swim, and the water is warm. 😇
Race day one! The crew is complete, the rudder is fixed. Off we go! Well… kind of. We were moving in the right direction but watching the competition from behind. Far behind. A combination of hacked-together crew, zero practice, and sailing a sophisticated race boat is clearly not the recipe to win a race. It’s good for learning though. We have learned what a Chinese jibe is, how steep the boat can go, that a nose dive is not a good idea, what can go wrong with the spinnaker and that the priority rules during racing are sometimes replaced by who-is-the-chicken-rule.
To be honest, we struggled on the boat as our Malay is as good as our Chinese. When the command is ‘tack’, the bow is turned through the wind and you need to move the sails and all bodies to the other side. Everyone has an own task in order to make this happen in a smooth manner. It’s all about timing. It’s team work. In Malay, pull means ‘tarik’, which sounds like tack if said fast. “Tarik, taik, tack” Can you imagine how often we started our task for a tack much to the surprise of the others? “No, no, no, noooo”! “Uh??!” 🤔
Race day three! The ‘around the island’ race was announced. We had a surprisingly smooth start and moreover were in control of the spinnaker. Finally! We even met our competition! In fact, we were passing them and soon we were in front. Wow, once you got the hang of the MC31 it is truly fast. 17 knots! So cool. Too bad that upwind we lost all our advantage but the good news: we did not crossed the finish line last! Thank you Russian team. Unfortunately, the so-called handicap of the boat moved us to the last position anyway but hey we controlled the boat and had fun! 😎
Quick Story and the 360º <<<
By the time we got to race day four, everyone was tired, and all our gained control of the previous day was gone. We went back into our messing-around modus and even managed to come to a complete stop 10 meters before the finish. I mean…🙄
Race day five. We did not started. The owner had different plans and we preferred not to break the boat without him.
Our bodies did not mind. It’s hard work on a race boat, not to compare with cruising from A to B. Not at all. And at the regatta it’s hard work outside of the race boat too: meeting people, short nights, non-stop sun shine, socializing, award shows, … no complaints though, all good fun. That’s for sure!
Our first regatta. What a week. Ups and downs but all together an experience never to forget. Thanks Jega for the opportunity! We are grateful. 🙏🏻