Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reconnecting with my inner beach

Balmoral beach, Boxing Day

Boxing Day in Sydney: the yachts of the Sydney To Hobart Race head out of the harbour, high winds predicted, for one of the world's premiere ocean races - and incidentally one of the great harbour sights. 'Wild Oats' was first out, no spinnakers this year at the start because of the wind. How do I know a sailing fact, when I'm the world's worst sailor? Because I was visiting Sandy today, and her father, brother and nephew are Sydney-To-Hobart veterans.

Today's press

The race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km), and is the joint effort of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. It is widely considered to be one of the most difficult races in the world, according to Wikipedia The race began in 1945, and the current race record was set in 2005 by Wild Oats XI, which crossed the line in a time of 1 day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds. Most of the field take much longer to reach Hobart, gradually making it into Constitution Dock around New Year. The big 'maxi yachts' fight it out for line honours, but it is often from amongst the smaller boats that the best stories emerge. This year, for instance, there is a yacht manned by disabled sailors competing. 

The post-Christmas sales also kicked off, and the Boxing Day cricket. Personally, I like my Boxing Day restful, and so I spent it ensconced in Sandy's tropical back courtyard, eating a lazy lunch al fresco with Sandy & Annie. Great to catch up with friends. The morning had been filled with delightful summer rain; the afternoon with somewhat less delightful sun and humidity.

Happy Christmas, good friends.

My buddah, left behind in Sandy's tender care.
I think he actually looks happier here than in my house.

But it was great weather for an evening walk on the beach at Balmoral, and a chance to reconnect with the beach, something that is not an easy option in London, particularly in the snow. A game of beach cricket, towels on the sand, rock pools, fishermen, sand between the toes....

Boxing Day Test it ain't, but quintessentially Aussie


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