More Boating Our First Race


Seeing we now had the boat, our next exercise required was to give it a name. After much deliberation we named her ‘Mademoiselle’, what a fine young lady she was too. The next weekend there was a competition held at the local school to acquaint and give the Public a close inspection of the new Boats. We were shown how to step the mast, rig the boat for preparation to sail. In this we had no skill, so we had no interest in showing how fast we were in carrying these exercises. We left early to launch the boat and put into practice the very little book learning we had hastily absorbed. If we thought that we left the School unobserved, it was not so, some of the local experts Mannerswood and a Brown, also departed and were lying in wait on the Lake for our return, and to give us a hiding, and a display their expertise. To get out into the Lake we had to tack through the Frankton Neck and I can still remember Beth saying to me. ‘You have enough room to attempt to ‘Go About’, or we are in trouble and into the Willows’. I had been following the book on sailing slavishly, it said. ‘If you move the rudder too violently you will stall it’, ‘and you be in ‘Irons’’. I was being far too gentle, and was always going to remain in ‘Irons’ and never ever, Go About. But problem after problem, that presented it’s self, was slowly sorted. When we returned to sail down Frankton Arm, we met up with the yacht clubs ‘Smart Alex’s’. But the God’s of the sea were there too, the Titans, Poseidons, and Neptune’s were also present, this day they had decided to give their blessings and smile on the novices. In this we were given a very stiff breeze from the South, which meant we were sailing on a ‘broad reach’ this is also the most powerful angle for a boat to sail, it is also the most forgiving angle. We only had one suit of sails, but the foresail was a huge Genoa. This was an immense and powerful sail, perfect for these conditions. Mademoiselle just flew. The centre board and rudder were both making the loud resonance noises that goes with speed, with the bone in her teeth, we were actually running away from our competition. They in desperation tried to set their spinnaker, but got into a mess as the wind was just a little too ‘shy’. Laura said, We are lying over too far, aren’t we?’ I replied, with my fingers crossed, There is a red line on the deck of the boat that says, ’Cover this line with water if you wish to go fast, I have done just that. You do wish to beat those rascals, don’t you?’ The ‘Up Shot’ was that we arrived into the Marina several hundred yards ahead of our competitor. Worse for them was to come, as the whole Yacht club was aligned along the Frankton Road to witness their display of bad taste. That fact that we sailed so well should have never happened’ but everything that day was in our favour. Things like this only happen to you only once in a lifetime, but my God it was wonderful. Some days you are glad you got out of bed and really tasted life.


We joined the Yacht Club and what a wonderful social group they were. The Butels, Jardine’s both Dad and Andrew, Jeffrey’s, Bill Van der Vorden, Sugar Robinson, Frank Haworth, Strains, Frank and Jean Mee, Frank Wright, Tony and Vicky Hill to name a few. What they did do, was teach us how to sail a boat. I hope during this period I was able to put back into the club some of what I took from it.






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