Friday, March 12, 2010

Playing possum in the 18s

We received this letter from Frank Quealey of the Australian 18 Footers League in Sydney, Australia:

There is rarely a dull moment in the 18 Footers and supporters are never surprised at what might happen, but last Sunday saw a ‘first’ – something even the most ardent follower would have never expected to see in an 18ft Skiff race.

It was the Australian 18 Footers League’s Ferry Patrons Trophy race and involved the Gill Racing Team, led by Dave Alexander.

After a slow start to the race and three capsizes in the 25-knot North east wind on the first lap of the course, Gill was further back in the pack than the team are normally accustomed.

The skiff was near Taylor Bay on the second windward beat when Dave Alexander noticed his two crew members looking into the boat. Thinking there was just a loose spinnaker, or something similar, he ignored their ‘distraction’ and kept sailing.

He noticed their ‘distraction’ continued but thought nothing more about it until crewman Ed called out “look at your leg”.

Dave says: “I almost ---- myself when I saw this thing (a possum) the size of a cat crawling up my leg. I shook it off into the bottom of the boat and it went out the back”.

“We all started laughing and capsized again. The last time we saw the possum it was swimming towards the shore but I don’t know whether it made it safely”.

Dave said this was actually the third time this season they had discovered a possum in the boat – although it was the first one to make it onto the water.

“One crawled out of the bow tube between the bow and the cockpit, then we discovered one dead in the bow tube. This one also came out of the same hiding place so we figure it must be a top spot for possums”.

Strangely, the boat is housed at a concrete car park in an industrial area. Hardly the type of location associated with possums.

Image below shows the Gill 18ft skiff in spinnaker action. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a shot of Dave’s face at the precise moment he saw the possum on his leg so we have taken the liberty above of creating our own image of Dave – based on the concept “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”.

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