18 July 2013

How to Turn a Picnic into a Race

In February 2012, we got an invite from Bill Miller to go out on his Stewart 34, Pionnier, to the Ponsonby Cruising Club picnic on Motuhie Island in the Hauraki Gulf. Bill is very well known in the Auckland racing scene and is a champion of the Stewart 34 boats. Bill is in his 80s but can still be found out racing every week. Nothing gets in the way of his racing. Scott has learned so much from racing with Bill and the others on the Stewart 34s.

The Stewart 34s are classic Kiwi yachts and the people who sail them are passionate about racing. I knew this, but for some reason I thought a picnic was a picnic. We had a nice cruise out to Motuhie. Bill is a lovely guy and has lots of really interesting stories to share and I had a great time on the sail out. The picnic itself was nice - great weather, delicious barbeque and a scenic walk around the island.

Then we headed back and Bill spotted a bigger boat ahead and it was on. He turned the sail back into an unofficial race. Before you knew it we were tacking one way, then tacking back but at the same time making it appear we were just sailing back to Auckland. Bill was working through all the tactics of the "race" to ensure we won. Bill had me grinding but I wasn't going fast enough so he "relieved me of my duties" and put Scott on point. And, although I'm not sure the other boat even knew they were "racing", I'm happy to report that we won.

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