It was a busy weekend in Sydney: within an hour of checking into the hotel I managed to be on a boat - and not just any boat but an America's Cup boat, namely Spirit from the '92 campaign.
Sometimes you just get lucky - I found their site using Google just after unpacking my bags, but with under an hour to go before departure without a booking, without knowing if they sailed during winter - and when they weren't answering their phone it all seemed a bit of a long shot. It wasn't helped by a taxi driver who knew minimal English and kept going the wrong way - he seemed to think I wanted the Casino. Anyhow by giving him directions eventually found the quay and walked into their offices, and yes they had a place spare. Result!
So spent the afternoon sailing the magnificent Sydney Harbour in a 72 footer. It was pretty breazy with steady 20-25 knots wind gusting 30 so unfortunately we couldn't get up the main and sailed on foresail alone. America's Cup racing is cancelled if the wind is that strong and its not possible to reef the main - not at all like the all weather Volvo 60 went on last year.
But she went pretty well on just the foresail (will post pictures when back in UK and have a chance to read the SD card). There was a professional crew to run the ship but we all had chances to sweat over the coffee grinders and enjoy a run at the wheel doing a tack or two.
All in all it was a fab afternoon and a great way to get back on the water. And we didn't end up like this, which is always a good thing. Funnily enough that was one story the crew didn't go on about - though there was a series of good stories about how to bend the rules in AC racing involving moving sails and managing water flow below decks.
As we sailed back up river there was a nervous moment as the mast seemed to scrape under the Sydney Harbour bridge. And high up on its iron frame we could see small figures climbing up to the top, which gave me an idea about what would be a great thing to do on Sunday!
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