SCOTW Anne Lene shares a tick off the bucket list: Sailing with Ragamuffin 100!
After a busy regatta season in Norway and Sweden, where I had thrown myself out of my comfort zone and learned a lot, it was very sad to realize that the season was over. I had leftover vacation days that I had to spend, and all I wanted was to sail more. I started to explore my options to do that.
I’ve only been sailing for about 4 years so I know that I’m not ready for the really big races yet, but I figured that the boats must be delivered around so there might be some opportunities there. I decided to contact Team Ragamuffin through their Facebook page. They have delivered the boat all over the planet the last year, and their updates during that were hilarious. I asked if they knew of any boats that needed delivery crew back from Hobart after the Sydney to Hobart race. They replied: “Write us a little about yourself and your sailing experience, and we’ll see what we can do”. I did that, but didn’t really expect to hear from them again. Norwegian modesty perhaps, but I thought that I was aiming a little high there.
I was already looking for other options when I received an email a couple of days later, from their Captain Cam (Mister Knox). He wrote: “You are welcome to join us on the Ragamuffin 100 for the delivery back to Sydney”. My reaction was a little mixed at first. I was of course very happy, but my jaws dropped for several days, and then I got terrified of making a fool out of myself. Luckily, my sailing friends encouraged me, and the weeks before departure to Australia went very fast.
Even before the Sydney to Hobart started, we knew that the weather would be bad during the race. My anxiety of being the newbie changed and became a worry if the boat would actually make it to Hobart. My first flight from Oslo was 12 hours into the race and the bad weather was already on. During my 8 hour stopover in Dubai I constantly looked at the race tracker and read updates on SA. Wild Oats retired. Comanche retired. Comanche changed their mind and continued. Victoire retired. Rambler 88 had problems. One by one the famous boats retired, and during my flight to Sydney, I couldn’t sleep for a second.
When I landed in Sydney and could check the race tracker again, the bad weather was over, the boats were close to Hobart and it looked like Ragamuffin 100 would finish as number 3, just behind Rambler 88. I could finally relax. During my final flight to Hobart, Ragamuffin did a smart move and came second. The tiny Hobart Airport showed images from the race on a TV screen and I probably was the happiest passenger there!
When I got to the marina, the party was ON. The crew told stories about the race that were terrifying. They lost a daggerboard but managed to drill a hole in the one they had left so they could use it on both sides, and it must have been a hell of a job to move it for each tack or jibe. They also had a nasty broach where they ended up with the keel on the wrong side and 2 crew fell into the water. Meanwhile, owner Syd was safely tucked in down below and later said that he just trusted his guys.
The departure was scheduled for December 31st, but we waited until January 1st. We were 9 people, 4 “guests” and 5 pros. We spent 3 days in Hobart rigging the boat for the delivery and getting to know each other. We had “tourist duty” on the boat, answering questions from spectators and the team also had Open Boat Sessions to let people visit. The most fun was perhaps when some ot the Maserati crew visited to compare the boat comforts.
Lots of people waived us goodbye on the 1st of January and again congratulated the team for the nice second place, and we hoisted our sails without any drama. Captain Cam made a schedule that said 3 hours on, 6 hours off. The last hour on watch would be steering. I haven’t helmed very much, being a bow person, so I wasn’t very cocky when it was my first go at it. It was dark, 16-20 knots of wind and 120 degrees TWA. Our boat speed was 14-16 knots.
The conditions couldn’t have been better, but I think my legs shaked so much it must have been visible from the moon. It took a few minutes to calm down and then I totally enjoyed it. What an insane KICK it was, to helm a 100 foot boat!
We were reaching all the way to Sydney, and during the windiest stretch in Bass Strait we saw 30 knots of boat speed. The guests didn’t get to steer during that. Our careful Captain Cam said “if we have a wipeout, first question will be who was steering, and you don’t want it to be your name”.
The only drama was when we heard a big BANG and realized that we had hit a sunfish with the rudder. The poor fish looked pretty damaged, but the rudder was fine. Apart from that sunfish, we so no dolphins and no whales, even though everybody promised me I’d get so see them. The delivery took 2 days and 8 hours, which was 10 hours faster than the race – we were really proud and celebrated the traditional way.
All in all: If you want adventure, maybe you just have to ask for it.