Home' Afloat : AFLOAT August 2014 Contents 22 AFLOAT.com.au August 2014
• DUBARRY • HARKEN • HENRI LLOYD •
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spinnaker up and found himself lost in the middle of the rocks.
So he had to turn back and lost a lot of time.”
The strong wind makes for a brief day’s sailing, and by 2pm
the fleet is moored in the centre of the South Five Island Group.
The green monohull, however, is significantly delayed, pulling in
to the lagoon just before dark.
I seize the opportunity to explore the world that lies beneath
the surface of the lagoon. With Renaud as my guide, we take a
small tender and anchor it in a blue hole – an underwater sink
hole edged by coral gardens more alien than the Moon and as
spectacular as bursting supernovas.
We see four beautiful turtles hovering through water clear as
glass, a baby black-tip reef shark sleeping under a coral brain,
large cloud-shaped schools of anchovy, lobsters hiding in the
rocks and a tuna fish larger than me.
We bump into three teenagers from one of the other
catamarans hunting coral trout with their spearguns, and clock
a couple who’ve brought their scuba gear bubbling around the
“Not only is this is a super spot to sail yachts with good trade
winds all year long, but it’s also an incredible place to see the reef
which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site,” says Renaud.
Day 3: South Five Islands to Noumea: 35nm
The next day we awake to an ice-blue sky and a strong headwind
– perfect conditions for sailing that energise the fleet. By 9am all
13 yachts are crowded behind the starting line, ready to give it all
for the last leg. The starting horn blares and with that, we’re off!
One by one the skippers raise their spinnakers, infusing the
seascape with a kaleidoscope of brilliant colours and patterns.
“ There’s always an element of risk,” explains Hervé, “when
you play with such a huge sail. You need to know what you’re
doing because it can easily turn around the front of the boat. But
every single boat decided to go for it today – probably because
there’s not much tactical stuff to think about. It’s a straight race
to the finish line in Noumea along the coast.”
Hervé Regimbeau’s X3 Mange Mieux Bouge Plus Sydney 38
again takes the lead and ends up winning the regatta by a healthy
margin. But a serious battle takes place for the second and third
spot between Lorella Jacques’ Archambault 35 GFC Forasol Poema
Insurances, and Jérôme Aucan’s J35 Ho’okipa. When we last see
them at the halfway mark they’re neck-to-neck, with only metres
separating them at times.
However we don’t get to see them cross the finish line, as
Renaud kicks in the motor so we can see the Sydney 38 take first
place. When the runner up is called to accept a small trophy at
the CNC clubhouse that evening, I can’t make head nor tail of
it because the announcement is made in French. I mean to ask
for a translation later on, but after a glass of win or ten, I forget
to do so!
But it matters nought. I’ve made a dozen new friends, seen
a new and beautiful part of the world and hope to do it all over
again next year.
“ This regatta started as a race but it turned into something
else,” says Hervé. “It’s made us into a family, I think.”
* Ian Lloyd Neubauer is a Sydney-based journalist and photojournalist.
He is an Asia-Pacific stringer for TIME magazine, CNN, the BBC and
Al-Jazeera. He also contributes locally to GQ Australia, The Sydney
Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review.
The 2013 Great Lagoon Regatta was won by Eric
Demillian’s Australian catamaran Voahangy, and the
organisers are very keen to see the Aussies return in 2015. Entry
is free. If you don’t have your own yacht or don’t want to sail
yours across 3,000km of ocean to New Caledonia, you can
rent a Belize 43-foot catamaran for 8-10 passengers for $950
a day. Add $290 per day for a skipper. For more information,
visit greatlagoonregatta.com or dreamyachtcharter.com.
Our salty-haired skipper and super-yacht agent Hervé Moal, the
founder and president of the Great Lagoon Regatta Association.
Jérôme Aucan’s J35 Ho’okipa.
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