Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dow Racing in Mozambique

A beautiful morning dawned on the Mozambican North coast. It is 10 July and the race time is set to coincide with that of the HBYC winter series at 10h00. Rian (Turner) Peter (Roeloffze) is debating which fleet will be bigger. They concluded that the 10 one - or soon to be two man - Dows they have rounded up must be more than that which will be on the starting line in Hout Bay.

While much debating is taking place regarding the “charter fees” and prize money – which in the end was R 120 per boat – and the skippers briefing, the breeze built to a steady 12 knots which when considering the boats, is more like a hurricane! The crew was divided in two groups and two separated races was decided on. The course, reach to the weather mark, run down to the leeward bouy - which in fact is a huge catamaran, - a sausage back to the weather mark and after the last leeward rounding, reach/fetch back to the beach.

Starting orders was form the rescue boat, an aluminum dinghy aptly named “tinny” and all went well on the reach across to the weather mark and the run down the 500 or so meters to the bottom of the course. Unbeknown to us luxury yachties, these boats have a cunning inability to capsize and lose their sprit in heavy wind. Alas half the boats lost their crew attempting to round the leeward mark and the remainder ended up reaching away from the weather buoy. After several hundred meters further and a few jibe attempts, 4 out of the ten boats started the long way back to the weather mark. The Course was shortened and form the weather mark, the Dows reached back to shore with Rian firmly in the lead. He of course claims the result would still have been the same even if I was sailing and not manning the rescue boat!

The next lot of crew got ready and the second race was wisely altered (and shortened) to include reaches and fetches only. We set sail from the beach to the old weather mark, back to a slightly leeward mark on the beach and after another fetch and reach saw your humble author romping home well ahead of the next boat. Maybe some sailing knowledge of the crew did assist the winning skippers in the two races??

Prize giving was quite a grand affair. Beautiful homemade trophies from driftwood and indigenous shells , personally engraved with the skippers name and race data was handed over by our host and proprietor of Situ Lodge, Hans Wedderman. The biggest attraction of course was the big pot of prize money - 840 Meticas = R 210.00 and is the roughly a weekly salary for these fishermen. Not bad for a Sunday mornings fun.

One wonders how adventurous a sail in the stormy Cape seas would be on one of these boats!

Thanks to Peter Roeloffze and Rian Turner, for article and pics!