Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six-foot-four and full of muscles
I said, “do you speak-a my language?”
He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich
And he said
I come from a land down under
Where beer does flow and men chunder
Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover, yeah
Yesterday, our family headed off to Gosford Sailing Club for the Australia Day Regatta. The Australia Day Regatta is the oldest continuously-conducted annual sailing regatta in the world. It has been conducted each year since 1837. While based on Sydney Harbour, races are held around the coast and apparently our winner is off to receive their medal from the Sydney Lord Mayor.
By the way, if you know anything about boats, our son was competing in his Flying 11, a small sail craft and Geoff was sailing in a Magic 25 (as in 25 ft) as part of his sailing course. Meanwhile, yours truly was armed with her Nikon D3100 and left on dry land.
“There is nothing, absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats.”
However, before the race got underway, our son was part of the Australia Day Sail Past. This was a real extroverted parade of sailors with most of the boats decked out in the most garish and ridiculous Australia Day gumph they could find. There was an inflatable boxing kangaroo and a plethora of flags and the one thing which was missing was our unofficial Australian National Anthem Down Under by Men at Work .
Our son had Australian Flag bunting on the stays, was wearing an Australian Flag Top hat and out the back of the boat, they were towing an inflatable plastic donut again bearing the Australian flag. For a brief time, our son managed to convince his sister to ride along behind in the donut. However, she baulked and the next thing we see is our son’s boat being towed by the support boat under the command of his crew member while the skipper was being towed along out the back with the biggest grin you’ve ever seen. He’d broken just about every convention in the book, but that’s entertainment and when it came to the award presentation at the end of the day, he took out the Junior Aussie Larrikin Award along with a $5.00 cash prize. As you may recall, our son recently made quite an impression wearing his ghillie suit at the Australian Scouting Jamboree won the dance competition winning backstage passes to see the band Justice Crew. He’s been busy!
“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”
-Vincent Van Gogh
Meanwhile, at 2.00 pm the Regatta was off. Geoff tells me that there were 50-60 boats ranging in size from the juniors in their baths tubs (Optimus) to 40 footers, which looked like giants next to the fingerlings. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who missed the start of the race. Geoff’s boat couldn’t hear the start gun and had to scramble to get away. Unfortunately, our sailors didn’t place. However, I’ve heard tales from our son of waves from the bigger boats crashing over the side of his tiny Flying 11 and the boat filled up with water. The spinnaker rope also slipped under the boat putting the spinnaker out of action and slowing them down. Apparently, spinnakers are known troublemakers. They’re known unaffectionately as “the divorce sail” and “prawning” is when you’ve spinnaker drags along through the water. There was a complaint yesterday that one of the sailors had go prawning but hadn’t shared his catch. They have a good sense of humour at Gosford Sailing Club.
“The sailor sits by his tiller, waiting and watching. He knows he isn’t sovereign of earth and sky any more than the fish in the sea or the birds in the air. He responds to the subtle shiftings of the wind, the imperceptible ebbings of the tide. He changes course. He trims the sheets. He sails.”
– Richard Bode: First You Have to Sail A Little Boat.”
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photographs of the line up. We had a lot of fun and loved being a part of this great event.
We would like to wish all our fellow Aussies a Happy Australia Day, while mindful of the concerns of Indigenous Australians. What, if anything, did you do to celebrate? Any sailors out there? Any great stories you’d love to share? I’d love to hear from you!
PS Here’s a few photos of the sea mist which floated in at the end of the day. It was scorchingly hot.