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the more things change

1905. Photographer: William J Hall. ANMM Collection

William Hall Photo, 1905. ANMM Collection.

Sydneysider Russell Debney stumbled across this lyrical explanation of the enduring, historical rivalry between the man at the bow and the bloke holding the tiller, and we knew we had to share it with you.  Meanwwhile, the massively dominant JJ winner Gotta Love It 7 could only manage a 7th in last weekend’s race, won by Rag & Famish with Cocko (Thurlow Fisher) a minute behind.  Full race videos are here.


“Let go that Jib” e’ yells. Now I should know

The way an eighteen footer ought to go.

“W’y don’t you ease ‘er ‘ead in them ‘ard squals?

W’y don’t you this? W’y don’t you that?” ‘e bawls.


Now I been in the eighteens sind a lad

I follerd in the footsteps of me Dad,

Who sailed with Ellis, Robbo and Chris Webb

I know the ‘arbour, both in flood and ebb.


I work the eighteen right in the breeze

By knowin’ w’en to ‘old and w’en to ease,

While that mug lair, our skipper, squats down aft,

Just frozen still at every fluky draught.


“You’ll ‘ave us in the drink!” he bellyaches

But ‘e’s just coverin’ ‘is own mistakes.

A catspaw snaking down of Bradley’s ‘Ead,

Strikes terror in ‘is ‘eart, til it’s like lead.


To sail our boat you’ve got to know just ‘ow

She likes ‘er ‘eadsail pinnin’ down the bow.

If I go payin’ out the bloody sheet,

She gripes – and shivers in the wind a treat.


I’ve got to nail ‘e down, or she won’t sail,

But all I gets from Muggins is a wail:

“You’d think you got a grey nurse on that line.

You’ll swim the mob and think you’re doin’ fine!”


But whats the use of tryin’ to explain?

E would’nt understand, though its quite plain

That is ‘e simply steers, and ‘olds his bib,

We’re in the money with me on this jib.”


March 18th, 2014

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