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1998 BRISBANE - HONIARA Yacht Race Review

by Ann Cleghorn on 15 Jul 1998
The recent Brisbane - Honiara yacht race has been dubbed as a huge success

Ann Cleghorn who crewed on Tempo II, a 44 foot catamaran which also took part in the race, reports on her

This is the third year the race has come to the Solomon Islands. The first two years the finishing line was in Gizo in the
Western Province. Whilst in Gizo, the line was in front of Gizo Hotel, and in Honiara the line was in front of the Point Cruz
Yacht Club (PCYC).

It was a tremendous welcome that the yachts received on arrival that started the ball rolling for fun time. The beach sports
competition, cultural dancing, the sail pass and presentation night had the club jumping for a week long celebration.

An insight into the sailors

Skipper Peter Gray took on the challenge, expense and hassles of preparing Tempo II for the Brisbane to Honiara Solomon
Islands yacht race to expand his nautical knowledge and ocean experience.

Peter and his crew Major Ray Ryan, Peter Thompson and myself were all monohull sailors and this was their first race on a

Setting off on the 1200 nautical mile race is very exciting. Three of the 16 yachts had been on the Gizo race last year but, for
many it was the first visit to this area.

The race left Brisbane on May 9 and the first boat to arrive in Honiara was Hakuna Matata after only five days whilst the
last vessel took nine and a half days.

Peter was rewarded with a great sailing adventure blessed with breeze generally from the east-southeast direction that blew a
fairly constant 20-30 knots and the confidence in his boat. Strong breeze did gust up to 50 knots a few times, but we could
not have asked for better conditions.

Maybe rounding the eastern end of Guadalcanal to finish downwind with the south easterly breeze would have avoided the
eight hours into the breeze at the end of the sail. It took eight days with no damage, accident or incident, bad weather or
hiccups and we thoroughly enjoyed the race.

Why do they sail the oceans?

Sailing is a challenge. There are many hard tests while at sea, including keeping the boat safe and moving as fast as you can.
There is no time to read and some have a good look at life while removed from their normal lives and at sea.

A few questions to ponder as you bash along sometimes on a high as the warm breeze exhilarates you, it is a great time to
reflect. The clear full moon can be romantic, and a great sense of adventure courses through salty veins. The carefree feeling
that is so joyful while it lasts. We get that elation so rarely in the busy city life but enjoy it often out on the ocean.

Then the tough testing miles, the spray in the face while reducing the sails (reeling) in the surprising 40 knot gusts. Lots of
broken sleep and being dragged out of your bouncing bunk at 2am to help change sail is tough. Cooking in the galley when
the sea is rough is horrible and the frustration of the chopping board airborne as you turn your back to light the oven can be
the last straw. Leaks that can totally wet your bunk, clothes, floors and showers that can cause grievous bodily harm and
discomfort to say the least. That's just part of sailing.

It is an adventure crossing an ocean and the sailors have a good camaraderie that makes it all worthwhile.

Arriving to the beauty of the Solomon Islands with the preparations that had been done by Reg and Helen Thomas and all the
PCYC staff was fantastic. People like Wayne Morris, John Carr, Solomon Airlines and all the sponsors made the event a
success and will ensure that the race in May 29, 1999 will be even better.

Sailors had a local family to assist with any queries, repairs were organised for those with problems, the moorings were safe
and secure, the club facilities were terrific, the local shops and markets were superb and the staff so friendly and helpful.

Help was given to get fuel and water to the boats and a runabout tried to get back to their boats with very unstable land legs.
Most sailors have now left for Australia with big smiles, great memories, new friendships and plans to return. We cannot
express enough thanks to all locals who were so kind and welcoming and made the time here very, very special. It was a
huge success. Well done, Honiara, hosting the finish and all involved.

What did the sailors do in Solomon Islands?

After much celebrating and great hospitality in Honiara and PCYC, it was time to start the cruising.

Tempo II, a 44 foot Crowther design catamaran and skippered by Peter Gray cruised the islands till July 10. He saw lots
and has returned to Australia with a swag of photographs, a tan, great new friends who he will visit again, a better
understanding of this beautiful country and very content with life. This is a small review of his travel around the islands.

Day 1

We departed Honiara LAT 09.5.8 LONG 160.03.1 at 13:10 for the Florida Group, an afternoon sail that was a beam reach
in 15 knots of breeze. Our first anchorage had the crew saying 'If this is the first stop and it's this gorgeous what on earth is
next?' As we were a little pressed for time on this 22 nautical miles motor sail, we made an earlier stop at Siarana Village,
LAT 09.11.00 LONG 160.13.02, Ngella Pile behind Mbungana Island. Surrounded by two reefs that centred you in a half
circle white sandy bay snug in 20 metres of water. A perfect paradise. We were required to pay a $50 anchorage fee after
which you can snorkel and visit the village and meet the families there. A packet of balloons can cause hilarity and joy for
young and old alike. The children were delighted with the colour. To dinghy ashore and be greeted so warmly is a travel
experience that will warm our hearts for years to come.

The fish jumped in the still night, the sky was so dark with diamond stars and the sea was black and glittering with
phosphorous as we listened to the Sunday School choir. From the boat we could see the odd torch moving around as there
was no electricity or generators which makes you realize when you're here, when the sun sets it's dark - with no moon, it's
very dark…..magic.

Snorkelling along a reef that is in pristine condition, singing with the local children that run and follow you shyly at first and
then conversing and laughing with us was a delight. Then gaining confidence, they touched my fair hair and held my hand and
asked, 'What is your name - and where are you from?'

Day 2

The second day was a visit to Ghavutu Island LAT 09 10.86 LONG 160 13.3 which has a jetty from World War II along
with the US Catalina aeroplane wings and engines you can see in the 8 metres from the jetty. The snorkelling is excellent,
plenty of war ruins. We enjoyed a barbecue put on by the local people in a relaxed and friendly environment. About 7

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