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Mt Gay Rum 2012 Neptune Regatta - Go south, you can’t miss it.

by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia on 15 Feb 2012
Turmalin leaves Neptune Island, heading for 0 degrees. Mount Gay Rum 2012 Neptune Regatta. Guy Nowell/ Mt Gay Rum Neptune Regatta
The Equator, that is. It’s not hard to find! But if you want to record a time in the Neptune Regatta’s Race to Zero, the Equator Sprint, you’ll have to find the right bit of it. And even that isn’t so hard when you set off from Pulau Sikeling with 12kts of northeast breeze and perfect visibility in sparkling clear air. From the Equator Mark boat we could see the start, 8nm away (which is to say that we saw the spinnakers go up a few moments after 1200h, start time).

The Equator Sprint is a two-leg race: when you cross the equator on the way south, the clock stops. Start again going north, and the clock starts too. And in the meantime if King Neptune should happen to come aboard and demand to know 'who dares sail in my waters?' in gravelly tones, then don’t be too surprised. This is, after all, the whole point of the Neptune Regatta – racing to the equator to be greeted by His Majesty, and to turn any number of Slimy Pollywogs into Trusty Shellbacks. Everyone has their own way of doing it – foul concoctions were sprinkled, poured or smeared, some went for a swim on the equator (probably to get the stuff out of their hair!), some obviously had an ‘out-of-body’ experience during their short time in the southern hemisphere and returned improbably large breasts, and some celebrated by drinking magnums of champagne and taking their clothes off. Blimey, what an eyeful!

Those who didn’t hang around chatting with His Maj for too long probably benefited – although the finish cut-off was extended by an hour (the start having been delayed by two hours), the back markers in the fleet finished in light breeze – just.

Back at Neptune Island the Mt Gay Rum Beach Hut was taken over by KukuKERchus, and the proof of the punch went up. Simon Blundell, skipper of El Oro, started a game of football with a sea urchin (that the sea urchin very quickly won) and spent an uncomfortable hour or so testing the anaesthetic properties of the sponsor’s product while Doc Mehdi Khaled (Mico Verde) dug the spines out with a scalpel. Ouch. Over at the Mess Tent the hamburgers and sausages were perfect, and at Harry’s @ The Equator the conversation was beer was cold. No more Pollywogs on Neptune’s island, thank you!

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