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Lloyd da Llama & Bay Race - 2nd June, 2012

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RCYC Bay Race - Winter Series - Race 2
Course: Start #10(P) – PAARDEN ISL [P] – WOODBRIDGE [P] - No. 8 [P] – No.10 (S) – PAARDEN ISL [P] – WOODBRIDGE [P] - No. 8 [P] - No.10 (P)/Finish
Wind & Seas: Mod SE, S & W (0 to 15 knots). Temp: 19C. Seas flat – Enough kelp to start a health farm
Sails: Full Main (Quantum); No.1 Genoa (Quantum); A-2 Spinnaker (North);
Crew: Craig Preston, Dan Spratley, Simon Penso, Charles Crosby, Phillip Rentschler, Trygve Roberts
Total Mass: 485 kg
Max Speed: 13.4 knots
Distance: 8.0 nm
Position : RTD
Fleet size: 15

Know thy enemy
Those of you born between 1950 and 1970 might remember a song called “Ahab, the Arab” - a cool little tune by Ray Stevens. The lyrics were about the “Sheik of the burning sands and a Camel named Clyde”. I know somewhere in that lot was a reference to the hapless Ahab having some difficulties communicating with Clyde whilst doing his damndest trying to bed one the Sultan's harem girls, called Fatima. I don't plan on writing a song, but it reminded me about a Peruvian fellow called Lloyd da Llama. Where am I going with this?

Llamas and camels
The previous weekend I had forsaken the double handed race for a camping weekend out of town, near Montagu on Route 62. Now what's this got to do with sailing, you might ask? There was a tough lesson to learn out on that farm, which is all about knowing your enemy , which helps a great deal in yacht racing. It helps in preventing nasty and unplanned surprises. We had arrived at the guest farm that Friday for a weekend of peaceful rest. It's truly a fabulous place with plenty to do including hiking, biking, spelonking, and swimming. Also on the farm are several exotic animal species, which are purportedly, people friendly. The guest blurb reads: “Visitors are encouraged to feed the animals your left over food”. Amongst that lot are Emus, Alpacas, Llamas, Tortoises, Pot bellied Black pigs and a herd of mountain goats. I suppose if I have to think really hard, I would have to admit that somewhere, sometime, I have probably read about camels and the like, having the propensity towards spitting, but it's the sort of low level information one stores deep in the recesses of one's mind, with the knowledge that you are probably never likely to need it. Well at least, not in South Africa. Well, I've got news.....

I present Lloyd da Llama from Peru!
We strolled down to the Llama's paddock that cold and windy Friday afternoon, on our way to the farm shop for some provisions. At that stage the Llama was just an animal of mild curiosity to me. I have subsequently come to know my enemy and I now call him Lloyd. Yup, Lloyd da Llama. He's a goofy kind of Peruvian guy - half goat, half camel. With his neck extended he stands a bit taller than 2 meters. He is also a vegetarian - a point which I had singularly failed to make a mental note of. Lloyd was prancing up and down the paddock fence in a great display of friendliness, so we stopped and I dutifully gave Mr. Da Llama a gentle pat on the head, but clearly, affection was not his primary interest – it was food. Lloyd buggered off to the far side of his paddock not overly impressed with the his first weekend visitors and I have to admit I was laughing at the way he ran – back legs splayed outwards in comical style. Maybe he heard me.

Ten minutes later we passed by his paddock once more. Only this time we had some provisions and I happened to be snacking on a piece of dry sausage (more commonly known in South Africa as droewors ). Lloyd was on his way back to us, ever hopeful that something tasty might be in the offing. And that is more or less how it came to be that I offered Lloyd a small piece of droewors . I extended the offering in the palm of my hand. Lloyd took a sniff then immediately withdrew a meter and pulled his ears right back, which posture I always thought was the submissive state . Probably true for dogs and most animals, but apparently not so for Llamas.

I stood there curiously watching him as he opened his lips and bared his teeth, which were stained dark brown. I started getting this uncomfortable feeling that he was glaring at me. What followed was a deep gurgling sound deep down in the Llama's throat and then it happened. He spat on me! One second later I was standing drenched in what had shortly before been the Llama's stomach contents. It is called cud (which should be an anagram for Chewed, Undigested, Decomposed). By definition it is a mixture of semi digested and half chewed local grass, a good dollop of stomach acid and other intestinal fluids, spiced up with about 3 gallons of recycled Llama saliva. What it smelled like was a mix of vomit and excrement. This stuff had penetrated through two layers of clothing; it was on my face; in my hair; eyebrows and ears. Lloyd gave me one of those looks which said:” HOWZAT!” He then nonchalantly jogged off to the far side of his paddock as I stood motionless in disbelief of what had just happened. I had been completely conned. I'll say this for my wife – she managed not to laugh – at least not till after my shower, when she Googled the Llama spitting thing on her Blackberry; and I quote: “Llama's will seldom spit and if they do it will only be if to demonstrate intense displeasure or to show dominance

Four washes got the shirts clean and a 50 minute hot shower more or less got me stenchless and calmed down. Two Scotches also helped to the point where I started seeing the funny side of it. The moral of the story is this: Don't offer a vegetarian meat. A week later I am still plotting my revenge on Lloyd. A number of solutions have cropped up, including

1. A carrot, hollowed out, stuffed with red hot chillies and recapped
2. A night visit with .22 hunting rifle. Llama biltong - could be a novelty?
3. A return visit in the midst of a heavy head cold to repay the compliment
4. A resounding slap across the head

And so on.

Our enemy today - The Convergence Zone
Ah yes, yacht racing; the pursuit of which I sometimes wonder why. This week was one of those. It was just a casual winter's afternoon club race with a forecasted south easterly of 15 knots, the RO set a triangular course for the fleet, which would have been OK if the breeze had held true. RCYC's fixed start line must be in the worst spot on Table Bay as more often than not, races are started in the convergence zone with light puffs of westerly from the Green Point side futilely trying to challenge the Cape Doctor from the opposite direction. It is quite common for yachts to be on completely different points of sail, yet only meters apart. That was the scene for last Saturday's race. It leaves crews feeling frustrated.

About 15 yachts of varying sizes came out to play. We hung out near the No.10 (pin) end of the line, never straying more than five boat lengths from the line during the last 5 minutes. We had a very good start, and like Windpower, we reached off in the light westerly to the left side of the course to try and get into the south easterly as quickly as possible. The tactic paid off handsomely as we rounded the weather mark in a solid 2nd place behind Windpower, with a nice gap ahead of the rest of the fleet. We were comfortably the leading boat in the Club 1 fleet.

Never take your bowman for granted
Our young bowman, Joshua, has decided to step down from sailing for a while, so we had to do some crew reshuffling. Let's just say things didn't go quite as smoothly as they usually do. On the first spinnaker hoist, we didn't have a bra – we had a knot – necessitating a complete drop, untangle, retie and rehoist, by which time we were already halfway down the run, with the stand-in bowman already having incurred two strafdop (penalty drink) penalties.

We managed to round just ahead of the Fast 42, Maestro, and headed off to the No. 8 mark on a fetch. Maestro just had enough gas to sail through our lee and get about four lengths ahead of us as we approached No. 8. But closer to the mark the south easter was petering out into a large area of calm. To make things worse, the calm zone had accumulated a large quantity of kelp which stretched about 1000 meters to either side of the mark. Maestro ploughed straight through the kelp, so we decided the best option for us was to follow her. It was also the shortest route to the mark. By some miracle we did not pick up any kelp. It took a while to get around the mark in the light breeze and then we ended up with a broad reach on the next leg, which should have been a beat.

That would suit us handsomely thank you very much. We slowly cruised past Maestro and went back into 2nd place behind Windpower (sailing in the IRC division) who were busy doing a horizon job on the fleet, but the convergence zone was up ahead. Halfway down the leg, the wind started shifting all over the show and finally we were becalmed and then started the inevitable hunt for the south easter again. All this could really have been avoided by laying a start/finish line in the wind zone proper. (Yes, I understand there are issues with manpower).

The last triangle
Despite all the difficulties, we had managed to increase our lead even more and rounded Paarden Island buoy on Maestro's transom. Our kite hoist was another bad one with a huge wrap in the middle, so it was drop the halyard, tug and pull and voila, we were actually planing downwind in the south easter reaching 13.4 knots at one stage, but it wouldn't last long. The wind had shifted around towards the east, which made the run to Woodbridge very deep and we lost out to Maestro a bit. We got the kite down and went back onto the tight fetch to No. 8.

The kelp battlefield
Up ahead at the No. 8 mark to our total amazement, we saw Windpower, which had a huge lead, struggling to get around the mark. It was that horrible mix of no wind and lots of kelp. There were odd streaks of westerly coming through, one of which benefitted us a lot and we got ahead of Maestro, but we had the calm zone lying in wait for us. At that stage we still had a massive lead. It was option time. Left, right or straight through? For us, its always a case of “keep the boat moving at all costs”

Around about that time we heard four hooters coming from the bridge, which they sensibly do with the VHF transmit button on, so everyone can hear right across the bay. It was actually just two hooters, but we were hearing them with a 2 second delay after the radio version. The message on the VHF was that the IRC course had been shortened. A short while later the same sequence was followed announcing the Club course was also to be shortened. Only problem was that we were already at the last mark of the course. So they were shortening a course that could not be shortened. It didn't take much IQ to figure out they had made an error, but it nonetheless resulted in a long series of calls and explanations from various boats to the bridge, which had poor Toni in a tizz – to the point that she eventually managed to say: “Courtened shorts!”

Time standing still
It felt like about 30 minutes that we lay in that kelp zone, motionless – boat speed zero, point zero zero! Then the fleet behind us started arriving and brought with them sufficient wind to sail over the top of us just 80 meters away, and get around No. 8. We sat there in abject frustration watching all our hard work being erased, boat after boat until even the smallest and last placed boat got around the mark. It was one step too far and for the sake of crew sanity, we decided to call it a day and retired. Not in the Corinthian spirit and all that, but we did it anyway. Somehow an RTD result seemed less humiliating than a DFL. (For those not in the know, ask a crew member what that stands for. Otherwise just picture the scenario and figure it out for yourself)

I don't like retiring from races simply because we are not doing well, but the hero to zero thing left us feeling totally zapped. Apologies to the rest of the fleet and Marzeltorf to those that nailed a podium position. We'll try again next week.

Sponsors - Old and new
This series (well the IRC part of it anyway) is being sponsored by Cutty Sark Whisky, which product was up for tasting back at the clubhouse. Always nice to see a new sponsor on board. Speaking of sponsors, ours, namely Regent Insurance, have failed to renew our contract. In these times finding generous and loyal sponsors is not easy. We have had a solid five year run with Regent for which we are grateful and now it's time to move on. We are earnestly looking for a new sponsor. Expect a name change over the next few months as we shed the old sponsor's livery.

1st Necessity - Beneteau 33.4 - David Booth - 1.48.02
2nd Nuthr Witch - L34 - Dave Garrard - 1.50.05
3rd Lapwing - L34 - Jennifer Burger - 1.50.41
4th Yolo - Sunkiss 3200 - Dale Kushner - 1.50.45
5th Touch n Go - Lightwave 395 - Dave Smith - 1.51.20
6th Cabaray - Stadt 34 - Ray Matthews - 1.54.26
7th Morgenster - L34 - J. Lampbrecht - 1.57.53
8th Majimoto - Farr 40 - P.Mare - 1.58.38
9th Maestro - Fast 42 - Paul van As - 2.05.17
10th Let's Go - Bucaneer - Duncan Johnson - 2.09.07
11th Regent Express - P27S - Trygve Roberts - RTD
12th IchyDa - Muira - Von Pittee - DNF

IRC (3 entries)
1st Windpower - Landmark 43 - Rick Nankin - 2.05.39
2nd Docksafe - A35 - A.Monet - 2.19.25
3rd Tenacity - Fast 42 - E.Stern - 2.51.22