3 Ports Race 1987 - Team Apocalypse
|Boat Type||Ben Lexcen Design|
|Club||Middle Harbour Yacht Club|
|Owner (s)||Barclay Wade|
|Former Crew||Bruce Leslie|
In 1986, Barclay again upgraded to a bigger boat. Apocalypse was a 50-foot Ben Lexcen-designed Pocket Maxi which carried about 15 crew. It was initially solely owned by Barclay Wade and later co-owned by Barclay and Peter Wood.
The boat was one of the most sailed and popular yachts at Middle Harbour Yacht Club, never missing a Wednesday afternoon or Thursday night and we competed in as many offshore events and regattas as they could. Boy, I wish you could find such dedicated crew now! In those days we just assumed that we would spend nearly every second weekend offshore sailing.
She sailed in many long offshore races, including finished fourth in the inaugural Sydney to Southport race in August 1986 behind the giant maxis Apollo and The Office
Apocalypse was run by one of the most famous bar-flies at the time - George Canfield. The year Barclay bought the boat, both he and George on Apocalypse blitzed the fleet of 35 to win the 2 handed race from Sydney to Lion Island and return race conducted by the Short Handed Sailing Association of Australia. The yacht led all the way to record a win of more than half an hour - no mean feat for two hands sailing a boat which is normally crewed by, l5 people.
The backbone of the crew, and I believe the three people who sailed the most races on her, were the 'three girls': Suzie Cavil (Stannard), Karin Ovari and myself Julie (now Hodder). Having this number of females on an offshore racing boat was very unusual at the time. I suppose it is still pretty rare now. But Barclay was very supportive of us females and there was no special treatment for us because of our gender - and no job restrictions. We got to do trim, helm bow and I was made the navigator.
Ten years after Apocalypse we sold, we had a reunion - an excuse to get together and reminisce about sailing on one of MHYC's most sailed and popular boats in its time. Apocalypse carried about 15 crew, but our invitations extended out to over 50 ex-crew.
And what a list!: Tig Thomas, Ian Alfonzo (The Fonz), Kaz, Suz, Westie (both of them), Peter Ryan, Ross Adams, Jamie Dibble, Greg Homann, Greg Hyde, Dave Craig, Bruce Lesley, Matt Hayes, Bergs, Pooley, Hugh Treharne... the list read like who's who in the bar during that era.
The memories and tall stories at the party came floating back. Who could forget getting line honours in the inaugural Three Ports race, and then backing it up with a second win the following year? Another female joined the 'three girls' on the first race - Tani Ruckle, a famous runner at the time, one of only a couple of female runners on that gruelling mountain and cross-country race.
â¦or Sydney to Coffs Harbour racing at Christmas. Apocalypse always went the right way at Christmas - north to the sunshine. And boy, did we have some good racing as well as a lot of fun. Who could forget those tacking duels we had with Dr. Who with Peter Ryan at our helm?
The Christmas of 1987 Sydney to Coffs Harbour race is one Kaz will never forget. This is her story:
The boat was about five nautical miles off Seal Rocks. It was just on dawn with a really awful seaway and we had just pulled out of the race because of a broken chain plate. We were putting on the emergency steering and pulling down the sails, which wasn't that easy as the boom vang had been leaking hydraulic oil all night. At the time I was helping to pull the headboard out of the track. I just stood up to give Perksie a spanner when the boat lurched, and I skated off the deck and finished with a beautiful duck dive (since been rated as only 5 out of 10 - didn't keep her knees together on the tuck portion of the dive) into the ocean.
There I was, bobbing around (swimming wasn't really an option) as I watched the boat sail into the distance. I could see Suzie trying to throw first one and then a second life ring to me. One bounced on the surface and took off. Neither got to me.
When they did eventually recover their steering, I was very relieved to see them heading back towards me. However, they did such a good job of finding me that I had to swim out of the way of the boat. Everyone was shouting at me to get rid of my new jacket, a Christmas present from my family, which I had been hanging onto for 20 minutes, but I refused to let it go. They had to pick up both of us.
We chuckle at this story now, but at the time we had some very experienced offshore racers on our boat and this close incident shocked not only Karin but the rest of the crew as well. A few lessons were learned that day.
As a regularly sailed boat Apocalypse had its share of dramatic incidents with other boats. One of the most controversial and memorable for the Navy was one Wednesday afternoon race when the Navy boat ran into us, and we sunk it moment - just before the start of the Mooloolaba race! We won the protest as they changed direction at the last moment.
The most frightening for us was one Friday night on the Bird Island race. We were sailing on starboard tack, and Wild Oats was coming straight for us. Not to worry, we thought - the helmsman, the foredeck and the mainsheet hands all seemed to be waving us on, but someone forgot to tell the runner person. I was thinking 'These guys know what they're doing and like to take it close, so relax'. At the last minute all I could see was the horrified look on the helmsman as he was desperately trying to turn the boat and the panicked gaze from their foredeck. There was nothing we could do in that last split second. The boat was coming straight for Westy's (Mike's) legs. He was standing frozen in the hatch. At the last moment he decided to take a 6-foot dive into the cabin - a very lucky escape. Crash! Wild Oats came straight into us amidships and sent us all flying. When We eventually parted, the nose on Wild Oats was 2 foot shorter and we ended up with a dirty big hold in our side.
The delivery trips were also fun - the infamous cooking competitions, a chance to steer, topless bathing (though as a rule you had to wear your top for diner). No problem getting delivery crew in those days!