What a weekend indeed to have been racing in the 75th edition of the Swiftsure races! It was a great way to end a rather stressful week, what with dropping my phone in the marina, working full time, prepping for the race and continuing Peace Bus prep, I barely had a minute to myself. But, from Friday evening getting to meet most of the crew down in the inner harbour, things took a turn for the better!
I had registered my interest in the race on a crew bank on the Swiftsure site, where you can put your name down if you’re looking for a boat to race on. I was picked up by Andre a few weeks previous and was looking forward to racing on this winning boat! Magnum has won or placed highly in several Swiftsures so I definitely felt some pressure to perform well. Still, it was going to be a good challenge, a change from my Clipper racing experience, where my team is not in the high-performing half of the fleet. Unfortunately, this year would be different for Magnum. The weather was not nice to this smaller boat and we came in second to last. However, as with my Clipper experience, we focused on safety and actually had a great time – at least, I certainly did! It was SO NICE to work on a boat where I can lift a sail by myself – I found myself actually wanting to do sail changes! I saw a symmetrical spinnaker for the first time and how to rig it with a pole. I saw reefs put in on the fly, instead of pre-rigged in the mast and sail. That was perhaps a bit stressful, though I only watched, but we reefed before being too overpowered so it was all good. I’d also never sailed on a boat where weight was so important, and where crew sit with their legs hanging outside the boat – or need to clip on all the time or even wear a life jacket as soon as lines are slipped (definitely throughout all the race though, given the conditions). I was definitely thankful for my Clipper foulies, as it was a rather cold, wet and windy affair throughout. It took several hours, even after a shower, to warm up again to feeling like I could generate my own body heat!
Probably the best story that came out of this race was our encounter with the Coast Guard. Unfortunately, our location transponder wasn’t working for the first part of the race and so we were thought to be missing – we were also having issues with the radio so didn’t get any communications that way. We only found out about this problem with a Cormorant started circling us… cool moment as it was, we did feel bad about using that resource – but, mistakes happen and things malfunction and in the end, we were always safe, which is what matters.
The crew was great, with various levels of experience, allowing us to try our hand at pretty much everything. I spent some time on the foredeck, some time in the ‘pit’ with a vastly reduced array of winches and lines (beauty!), some time helming, trimming, and some time on standby on the all-important vang, in case of broaching – which, incidentally, did not happen! We finished the race around 2:20am, a record for Magnum. Most boats finished all races in record time due to the high winds over the weekend! After a few hours’ rest, we did a little clean up (no deep clean woohoo!) and moved the boat back to its home with a few well-deserved beers to wrap up the weekend. It was so good to be on the water again, and I’m thankful to Andre for bringing me on board with this wonderful crew!
On a completely different note, I’m about mid-way through reading a fascinating book on the geo-politics of energy called Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet by Michael T. Klare. It’s definitely making me realize how much I don’t know about what goes into maintaining our energy-rich lifestyles and what a mind-bogglingly gargantuan industry energy is. Oil, gas, coal, minerals… all things we absolutely depend on but feel very much behind the scenes, despite this importance. I look forward to reading more!