Posted on 13/11/2017 to World Cruising
Ten miles to go. It’d been a long week and the smell of the finish line had the whole crew up and energized. Cutter rigged and heading downwind, the additional headsail had us moving along nicely for the last 48 hours. With a poled out genoa, a preventer on the mainsail, and the additional sail, we had no choice but to stay heading downwind. The skipper had set us up beautifully for the final stretch. Tao was looming close behind though and gaining quickly. To get the most out of Haji we gave Hans (one of our autohelms) a rest in lieu of a more accurate helmsman, our skipper, which added an extra .2 knots to our speed.
Our two mile lead was narrowing. Sailing on their mainsail and red, white, and blue spinnaker, Tao was definitely the faster boat. Three miles to go and our lead was down to .3 miles. An experienced racer, our skipper made the first move. Tao was forced down wind and if they wanted victory, they’d have some work to do. With no choice for them but to drop the spinnaker and go onto a starboard tack, we were in the drivers seat. As our lead increased once more we readied Haji for a gybe.
A well run crew, we made it look easy. First Amy and I dropped the staysail, bundled it up and sent it down the fore hatch, to be dealt with later. Then the bosun brought the genoa in, the skipper still at the helm. We took the preventer off and gybed the main, unfurling the genoa right behind it. The finish line was so close we could taste it. If we could hold Tao off, it would be a great victory for the aged Haji.
One mile to go. Tao had done as predicted and was now on a port tack. They were gaining on us once more. Closer and closer they came. I went to the bow to call when we crossed the line and Amy headed down below ready to take the official time. Between the headland and light on the island was the imaginary line. .2 miles to go. I looked back as Tao closed in. We crossed. “Time!” I yelled. 1258 GMT. One minute later our adversaries, and friends, finished with a lovely view of our stern.
Victory was ours, a small triumph for Haji, and crew. It was a short lived celebration and we quickly set up our lines and fenders for mooring. As we pulled into the marina, there were no crowds, no applause. No one else needed to laud our work, we knew the score. Haji 1, Tao 0.