Two years ago we sailed the first edition of this race. Already then we saw it's full potential and this year we were back again to see if it fitted the shoes. Only this time with another boat, a Pogo 8.50 - "Njifa". I transfered the boat from it's home port in Mali Losinj to Icici, the starting point of the race. In this race you can either race double handed or fully crewed from Icici around the island of Susak and back. It was by the initiative of two ex Laser sailors - Ivo and Daniel - that we entered this year's edition. So, the crew consisted of the two before mentioned Laser sailors and two ex Mini sailors - Dado and me.
The starting gun went off at 10am on a cloudy november Friday morning, with some northerly breeze filling in moments before the start. The gennaker is up and we are off. The first couple of miles we sail in light breeze, but then slowly, the SW breeze fills in and we start the upwind leg towards Susak. There is another Pogo 8.50 racing, only in doublehanded mode. We keep solid speeds upwind, the big boats are faster, of course, but we enjoy our rare moments of sailing. That is unfortunately true for every one of us, we don't get to spend much time sailing, and I hope this race nudges us in the right direction. Seeing the Sun sets already around 4.30 pm, the night is falling and the clouds are starting to surround us. Halfway in the upwind leg towards Susak, we make the first navigational error and round the small island of Zeca from the west, and remain blocked in a bubble of no breeze with boats passing us by from all sides. It is pretty frustrating, but the morale is high and the jokes make the pain go away. After one hour of making jokes, we finally get some wind and we can continue are journey towards Susak. There's lightining all around us so we exepect to get hit by some storms pretty soon. And that's exactly what happens a few moments later, a hail storm is upon us. But all the rain, wind and cold don't seem to scary when you have a Webasto installed inside the cabin! Inside, everything is dry and warm, so we take shifts inside, rather than oustide. At midnight we round Susak in some 20 knots of south westerlies, we fly the Code and start our return to Icici. Then we make the second error of the race, passing from the inner side of the island of Unije, where we loose the miles gained after rounding Susak. The other Pogo - "Praznicni dan" - is still a couple of miles ahead, but we don't give up.
The wind drops down to 10 knots, then to 5 knots.. But we are slowly getting closer to the finish line where we see all the other boats ahead of us trapped in a no wind zone in front of Icici. And we are coming in strong with the storm behind us, pushing us towards the finish line. And then, some 2 miles from the finish, the storms hits us with the full main and gennaker up and for a moment, we are flying. Riders on the storm, indeed.
But then we take down the gennaker and aim for the finish line, passing a few boats ahead. In the end, we finish 7th out of 18 boats, which is not bad. It could have been better, but then.. what is the next edition for?