Through a Scotsman’s eyes - Spirit of Athena
Well when the invite from John Duffy arrived on my email I said to myself `lets give it a whirl' for at my advanced age - at 67 I was probably the oldest basic bog standard crew man taking part - these opportunities don't happen so much more. Anyway somebody had to be aboard to polish John's shoes at each watch change so why not me. So armed with a shoe brush and some lightweight golf waterproofs I jumped aboard. A bit worried about sea-sickness which I used to suffer badly from in my youth which is why this was my very first offshore race. So I was immediately de-moted to navigator / tactician and keep out of the way as much as possible. Not good for the ego as I had thought I would be the best helmsman on the boat - but that illusion quickly shattered as I discovered myself alongside Martin Kirkenterp, gold medallist from 2008 and about four other hot shot sailors. Yahoo, when ever in my life well I ever even speak to a gold medallist let alone spend four days - or 97.6 hrs. to be precise - on the same boat.
So the motley crew set off for sea - in a beautiful pea green boat (a little 40.7) - with captain Duffy our wise owl and dipsy Liz our prize pussycat. And what a pussycat - lazy is not a word in her vocabulary, foredeck, mast, trim, galley, pump, everywhere. She worked her balls off - oops wrong expression, for a gal, even an Oz. And also in the pea green boat was Angsar, a dour German with a sense of humour (oxymoron !!!) and a seriously good offshore sailor, young John who took over the seasick duties from me to my surprise (but never once let it stop him in his duties as bowman, and Alan, a cop, who threatened to lock anyone in the head for minor infringements (like parking the boat - he kept imagining he was seeing double yellow lines everywhere) and assured captain John he had brought his handcuffs in his seabag. And there was Jacqui, an English rose, who kept us all cheerful as well as running the pit like a seasoned pony. And Martin who did everything - a powerhouse, steered, trimmed, bailed, fixed, hoisted, dropped, peeled, everything. And of course James McKenzie, (an English Scotsman ?) who is usually my Streaker crew and a top flight ocean sailor. And me.