Today was the first racing day and the first day that our team met on “Katzenellenbogen”. This was the same boat, although now under new ownership, as at Antigua last year and at that time I had the dubious distinction of being only one of two people aboard who could pronounce it correctly; but this year the odds were stacked heavily in favour of Dutch speakers so everyone could enunciate the name (although the Dutch pronunciation is different from German). We all met early in the morning at the Simpson Bay Yacht Club for brekkie and were then herded onto the boat so that we could get underway in time. I didn't count the bodies on board but believe that we were 13 people aboard the refurbished and Steve's impeccable Lagoon 410 when we weighed anchor and headed off towards the point of land in Simpson Bay closest to the airport, off which we then dropped anchor in a good breeze and a light chop. We then got our final briefing on our assigned tasks and proceeded to begin the earnest business of getting our starts organised. We had people with binoculars finding sail numbers, bow numbers and boat names so that they could be recognized in our list prior to the commencement of the individual races. We were slated to start 11 races in the morning and 9 races in the afternoon and wanted to get everything right the first day. The winds and weather were monitored before the race officer decided upon where to drop the start buoy and the weather mark and then the pin powerboat proceeded to place them where specified (and to ensure that they didn't drift anchor). Very soon we were in a swarm of sailboats that were preparing sails and manoeuvring and then the races began in earnest. I'm still a boy at heart so I got the task of making big noises. This means that my job was to blow the signal horn marking the warning periods and the start of the individual races, with the added bonus of being able to blow another sound signal in the case of unexpected events such as postponements and individual bad starts. At the Heineken Regatta the sound signals are professionally done, they consist of a twin set of truck horns attached to a scuba tank with a valve that I get to open in order to issue a blast that had people on board covering their ears (see, I still am a kid at heart; I'm sure that my parents are happy they never gave me a drum set when I was growing up at home!). Unfortunately this task meant that I couldn't get any pictures of the competitors while they started.
We did manage to perform our 20 starts with barely a hitch and had fun in the process as well and once the stress of starts was over we relaxed and soon returned to our anchorage position in Simpson Bay and most of the volunteers had a tasty frothy beverage in their hand. I'm still on the antibiotics so I could only watch the others and begin the countdown of hours before I could have a drink. I do have admit that I'm not feeling very well yet so the temptation of alcohol isn't quite as big as I might make it seem to be.
I left the start boat quickly, before the competitors returned, so that I could re-anchor from my exposed position outside into a more comfortable and less rolly spot on the inside. I found a spot about halfway inside the anchorage in 13 feet and immediately noticed how much more comfortable the boat motion was. Subsequently, when everyone returned from their day at the races, the anchorage turned into a circus, but luckily the bumper-cars were absent. I had some close neighbours but not quite close enough for me to feel that my paint was in danger. I was beat from the day's activities and made a simple dinner aboard and retired early to catch up on all that sleep lost to rolling motion.

Bridge opening chaos The boats are stacked deep and close to each prior to the bridge opening after the first day's races.
(2014-03-07 15:12:41 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/13.0, 1/200s] ISO 100)
Bridge opening chaos
Race officers planning The officials aboard deciding upon the wind and placement of the start line.
(2014-03-07 10:43:41 NIKON D7100 with a "70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6" lens. [f/5.6, 1/1600s] ISO 100)
Race officers planning
Taking a break during the action Relaxing between the starts.
(2014-03-07 10:42:25 NIKON D7100 with a "70.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6" lens. [f/8.0, 1/500s] ISO 100)
Taking a break during the action
Pin boat waiting for instructions Our pin boat with the buoys aboard waiting for instructions once the decision on where to place the start line.
(2014-03-07 08:40:01 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/6.0, 1/800s] ISO 100)
Pin boat waiting for instructions
Race boat Flags The flags flying off the back of the Start Boat B, Katzenellenbogen
(2014-03-07 08:38:23 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/3.5, 1/1600s] ISO 100)
Race boat Flags
Race officer briefing Our race officer performing the pre-race briefing to ensure that all runs smoothly during the actual starts.
(2014-03-07 08:12:41 NIKON D7100 with a "18.0-250.0 mm f/3.5-6.3" lens. [f/3.5, 1/1250s] ISO 100)
Race officer briefing
   
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