Through the eyes of the Victorian Sharpie Sailing Association president and Team Vic spiritual leader Jake Nichols…
30 hours of driving and sleeping in swags right at the beginning of winter may not be most people’s idea of fun, however on this year’s Queen’s Birthday weekend four mad members of Team Vic (Effin Sik) defied logic and did just that.
Until about a week before the trip, the idea of getting to Port Lincoln for the annual South Australian Frostbite Regatta seemed like a bit of a pipe dream – with everyone having various plans perpetually changing, it seemed like all hope was lost. Until of course one of the most enigmatic and notorious members of Team Vic, Rob Radnell, got wind of the idea and was hell bent on making the trip over – rain, hail or wife.
After a few long winded phone calls and many attempts on procuring a reasonable vehicle to do the trip, Rob decided it was time to initiate ‘Project Regatta Vehicle’. So he bought a second-hand Volvo and got his cousin to drive it from Sydney, arriving in Melbourne just two days before we were leaving. Now Rob will tell you that he’d been thinking about this kind of purchase for a while, however I am more inclined to believe that he was just that keen to go and have a beer with Harry Fisher and Marc Ablett, two of the young guns in South Australia, that he was willing to put his marriage on the line just to make it across.
After what I can only presume was a large amount of nagging from Rob in one of the aforementioned phone calls, he managed to coerce Dale Collings, a pretty shit-hot sailor who has previously campaigned in Sharpies, to delay his caravan trip with his partner by a week so we could go show the South Australians how dedicated us wetbacks were to the cause. On the complete opposite tack, Matt Morris decided he was also foolish enough to embark on this adventure after about two text messages from Rob.
Once the team was assembled, and Matt worked out that we were leaving on Thursday night rather than on Friday, we were on our way! Fortunately we had Harry pumping us up and helping us make the dream a reality so at about 5am on the Friday morning, a new (to us) Volvo with a very well-used long boat by the name of FIGJAM (V777) hitched on the back rolled to a stop out the front of Harry’s house in Adelaide, still another 650 kilometres shy of Port Lincoln.
There he stood with a grin from ear to ear and six pack of the state’s local nectar, West End Draught, in hand. After some quick banter about how he was trying to poison us with that South Aussie filth and offering him a real beer (Melbourne Bitter) he cracked his can, had a sip and spat it straight back out, much to my delight. He’d not realised they’d been sitting on the shelf for at least two years and had been expired for about the same amount of time. The start of many great successes for Team Vic.
We carried on in this fashion for a couple more hours and got to have a sneak preview of the inaugural Down Under Sail magazine, which was to be launched that weekend, another incentive for us to make the effort. We got a few hours shuteye and then started the morning with a jovial wake up to get the second leg of the journey to Port Lincoln underway. After a quick stop through Port Wakefield’s famous Kiplings Bakery, where Rob managed to move backwards in the line a great rate of knots (too much of a gentleman), we made the rest of the harrowing journey. It wasn’t until we neared Lincoln, when fortunately I was driving, a few snap decisions were made to stop in Cowell so Rob could make friends with the locals, but more importantly so we could check the watering hole where we fortunately found a block of VB cans to last us the rest of the trip to the yacht club.
Salvation from the dirty West End once again.
To be continued…
Stay tuned to Down Under Sail over the coming days for the final two parts of this inspiring journey by Team Vic.