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Brisbane; Canadian sailor David Hansman takes to the water with the local fleet

26 August 2008 David Hansman

David Hansman (left) with Brisbane skipper David Rose

"David Hansman (left) with Brisbane skipper David Rose"

Photo by:
David Hansman

Back in October last year Canadian sailor Dave Hansman dropped down to Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to catch a ride for the Saturday Etchells fleet race. Here he recounts his experience which included thunderstorms and camaraderie, but not much sailing.

Back in October I had an opportunity to get sailing here in Brisbane. This opportunity came after I made a call to the local Etchells fleet captain Brad Ginnivan to find out if he knew anyone in need of a crew. Turns out he did - one of the local, very experienced Etchells skippers Dave Rose was lacking his regular crew. So all was set and I was grateful for the chance.

The weather forecast for the day was calling for a mix of sun and cloud, a high of 26C and winds from the east at 7 to 10 knots. In other words, perfect! I arrived mid-morning to watch the goings-on around the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron's facilities then joined Brad and Dave in his lovely, Canadian made (Ontario Yachts, Oakville!!) Etchells. The Etchells fleet here is 21 boats and on this day there were 11 out to race (Their racing season starts at the end of September and continues into April).

Weather being what it is (unpredictable), what was shaping up to be a fine day of sailing turned out to be not quite what had been bargained for. There were a number of sailing events going on, catering to racers in a variety of size, age and boat type. From Lasers, to 16 ft Skiffs, to Tasars, 420s, 505s, and Contenders on up to Etchells, there were, quite literally, hundreds of sailboats on the water.
We had been sailing for about an hour and were just readying for the start, when some large, black clouds started building from the west - and building very, very quickly. This is not an unusual event here, but what made it different is that it hadn't been expected. There was much racing planned or already started for that afternoon. However, the word went out, and the RCs in all three of the race areas cancelled the racing, ordering the boats to the harbour. What transpired was something I had never witnessed before: well over a hundred sailboats converging on the harbour all at the same time, coming from different directions.

In our boat, my well-prepared skipper, Dave, and crewmate Brad had the backup plan ready (as all good sailors should): out came the beer (Tooheys New in case anyone was wondering) on the basis that we may as well have a beer and enjoy the show, storm clouds and all. In the end, the timing for us was perfect. We got to the harbour, stored the sails and moored the boat. Removing the boat from the water was left until after the storm, now very close at hand. Some people persisted in proceeding with removal of their Etchells from the water and got into the heavy rain - but we retreated to cover and sipped beer.

The storm hit with a vengeance - lightning, thunder, rain, hail; everything not pinned down was moving horizontally, including the hail and rain. I was very glad not to be on the water! Good call by the Race Committee to get to shore.

The day went from sunshine and pure sailing delight, to some of the most miserable conditions you can have in sailing, then back to sunshine again; all of this in just over an hour. But sailors being sailors, we coped. The sailing was done for the day, but the coolers were full of beer and the sun was sure to come out again to dry things off. To top it off, I was invited back again for another day of Etchells sailing the next time I make it to Brisbane. I hope that time is soon.

The Brisbane fleet show David Hansman some Australian hospitality on a bleak Saturday afternoon

"The Brisbane fleet show David Hansman some Australian hospitality on a bleak Saturday afternoon"

Photo by:
David Hansman


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