Our story starts mid-September, when Manly Sailability offered our 7 Hansa 303’s to the Invictus Games organisation so that all Hansas in the competition would be identical in rigging, and it would be easy to transport them across the harbour, rather than be trailered across to the Eastern Suburbs by road. The number of boats required kept wavering between 4 and 8, so we arranged to borrow an extra one from Middle Harbour, so that all would work well whatever the final number. It took a while, because sails had to be ordered and fitted with Invictus Insignia, sails marked with the country of the competing sailors, and hulls cleaned of any advertising material. We also had to check that all blocks were the same size, all ropes correctly aligned, and each boat had the correct additions, such as bailers, joy sticks, etc.

The fun started when we were notified that 2 boats would be needed at RANSA from 13th October for practise by the Aussie Team. This meant that everything had to be completed by 12th October. Accordingly, at the working bee on 12th October, sails were changed, hulls washed and cleaned, ropes and appliances checked, and James Griffin was present for photos of the readied boats.

Slideshow of before, during and after the Hansa 3O3 Invictus races.

On Saturday 12th October, Black Swan and Eli D were towed across the harbour, and reports sent back on the astonishing progress made by the 2 Aussie Sailors, Bear and Pete in the following week. Included in this was a scary photo of David (Bear) sailing in conditions of wind and rain that were far worse than we would have been allowed to sail at Manly. On the Thursday, 18th October, we towed the other 4 boats that were needed across to RANSA with the rest of the gear. What was amazing, was the number of people who spotted the boats practising in Farm Cove from the ferry, and sent me photos and reports of sightings.

Sunday 21st October dawned extremely bleak, so it was not a problem to see that there were not many people waiting in Farm Cove for the racing to start. There were a few people from local Sailing Clubs, and it was good to chat with them as we waited for the regatta to begin. However, at around 11.00 a.m. the sun came out, the wind dropped to a very pleasant southerly about 10 knots, and quite a large fleet of spectator boats drew up at a respectful distance.

The racing of the Hansa’s was amazing. Just 5 boats, one with 2 people, as the American sailor need a support person in his boat. Jack Hunt from Penrith Lakes Sailability took this role. The other 4 Hansa’s made an amazing race: constantly changing leaders, and quite dazzling in the beautiful sunshine, with a complete change of scenery to our usual Manly Cove views. The Harbour Bridge, the wall on the Botanical Gardens, the Opera House, Garden Island and the city of Sydney was the backdrop….stunning.

We ended up with an extremely hard fought result: The French Sailor, Cyrille Chabon sailing in Woody, but with the Middle Harbour Sail won by half a point, Eli D with Peter Arbuckle came second, and Davin Bretherton in Black Swan came third.

Monday, 22nd October was the date for bringing the boats home. Finn Irvine from Manly Sailing came to help with Robbi R, and Warwick and Jim brought Charlie’s Chariot for the tow back home. We also had to bring home lots of gear: carpet pieces, the trolley, a hoist and slings so it took a while to stow it all in the boats and do the tie on of boats to be towed across. We also had a wonderful team to help at the Manly end, to get all of the boats washed and put away in the boat shed.

Huge thanks are due to the Manly Team, who cheerfully gave their time to help with this enormous project. An enormous debt of gratitude to Bob from Pittwater, Alan for the basic organisation, Michael and Tish Leydon from Bateman’s Bay, Lyndsay from RANSA and Ron from Sailability Rushcutter’s Bay, the official Volunteers and Boat Captains from various other Sailability Branches. Everyone was happy to get involved, and the organisation was easy. And Thanks, Harry and Meghan for having the idea and making it all happen.