From my front windows I can look down the Derwent River, and when I am lucky, over the curve of Bellerive Bluff sloping into the water I can see tall masts suddenly appearing. If I wait a few moments, the sails become visible and then the entire yacht sails into view, trying to fly to the finish line of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
Last night, my mind was full of stories and ideas. Earlier in the day I had relaxed in the large chairs within the Gold Class at the cinema courtesy of a friend, and been moved strongly by Russell Crowe’s new movie The Water Diviner. We were both very impressed by the movie and were thrown into thinking and talking about World Wars, and the futility of lost lives and the consequences for families. Then later, once back at home, I finished reading our Tasmania’s Richard Flanagan’s Booker Prize winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Until then I had never truly felt the situation for our Prisoner of War soldiers forced by the Japanese army to build the Thai-Burma railway. It is an extraordinary story, which made me feel quite breathless with despair about how different cultural values and beliefs can neutralise or destroy the natural talents of men.
So with two war stories swirling in my head, I dozed. When I woke from a half sleep at 2.20am I thought not of mud and death rather of water and the achievement of goals.
I ambled to my front windows and was brought wide awake. As I stood looking onto the dark Derwent River with the lights of streets, buildings and Wrest Point Hotel marking the western shore line, I realised something tall was slipping along behind Bellerive Bluff. Within seconds the tall mast was momentarily blocking my view of bits of light on the other shore. Before long the supermaxi was entirely in view and charging towards the finish line. I was surprised at its speed. Majestic. This morning, after checking the race standings, I now know I watched the third boat to arrive, Ragamuffin100.
Today’s arriving yachts have not been so lucky with the wind once they have come into my view. It’s almost as if once they pass Bellerive Bluff, the wind stalls. I have watched yachts tacking across trying to make the most of a fickle breeze. Sometimes one almost passes another which had been way ahead. It’s a beautiful clear morning in Hobart, and the surface of the Derwent River seems to be without a ruffle, but I doubt if any of the crew are thinking about that as they try to cover the last kilometre or so and improve their race standing and time.