OBR final report
Inside one team: OBR Reports from Jabuka
With great pleasure, I present what one November weekend looked like from the team of five people all happened to share a floating device from Vodice to Jabuka and back.
This year Jabuka was slightly different for me. After now more than one year of photo reporting Seascape events, I got my very first chance to be an OBR on Escapade, Swiss Seascape27. Regatta Jabuka is relatively tricky to convey to outside observer, as it starts in the night, and in light wind conditions, ends in the night as well. Each year there is a shady picture of the start, morning picture on the boat, and Jabuka picture upon closing the distance to The Rock. Other than that it is hard to see what is actually happening on board. This is a shame, because, it is a rare combination to have the pleasure of night sailing and not the bittersweet pain of longer offshore regattas.
The night start, signature of this race is taking place in front of Vodice, what might be good as there are not a lot of Adriatic towns that make it so easy to orient on water, but with Vodice’s Punta hotel on one end, and cruiser-like excuse for architecture on the other, you get some basic spatial orientation. However, start is a bit further out, and with all the boats, and lights, it’s easy to lose yourself. The sight itself is impressive, a parade of light, reflection and sound you might pay a ticket for in a modern art museum. The energy in the air, however, would not be included in that price.
Being a sailor, you feel the most of that energy, even more so with the steep sinusoid of being one on this Jabuka. You get the adrenalin of start, the concentration of night, the beauty of the morning, the frustration of the distance to Jabuka, the happiness of sunset, the coldness of the night and finally the tiredness of late arrival.
And it all starts with a start. Philipp, on whose boat we sailed for this 27 hours, was concerned with the initial idea to start far left, as the shallows are close and other boats might be coming in. In this kind of situations Dejan, the match racer from Slovenia, kicks in. He was sure of his idea, and sure enough to make others confident as well. Some less, some more. We were off to a good start, in front of all Seascapes, and in first ten boats overall, looking over more than a hundred boats left behind.
This, as well as each time we were first in the fleet, caused me to enjoy the race a lot more, and proportionately mood would get down each time someone would show up on the tracker in front of us or maybe in a better position regarding the wind conditions. There was a minimal breeze, so the positions were as important as the ranking, as everyone was hoping to be the ones to get the most of their private air puffs.
Accordingly, the best of my mood was out when we saw Fram, the Hungarian boat far in front and on at that time favourable, left side of the field. Luckily, as a consolation for times like this on Jabuka, you can take some time off and stargaze in the front of the boat. It is horribly hard not to be cheesy about this, but the manner in which milky way quietly follows you as you sail through the night is one of the best atmospheres I have ever seen.
The night brought a lot of changes in positions, and by the end of it, the tiredness poured upon the crew. Everyone slept for a little while, and while I only caught one hour at the time, it was a really proper sleep, leaving me surprisingly rested. The morning kicked in just the right time. It is hard to imagine what a little light does to your spirit. The scene around us was tackier than expressionist painting, the fluffy clouds decoring the pink-orange sky, and the light blue reflection of the sea offering this indulgence doubled. There was very little or no wind at all, and we were taking our morning quite easily, waving to rival ship Ora Blu II behind us, and drinking hot tea on deck. Everyone laughed a lot, as almost all conversation led to jokes. Lukas, who is rather serious a lot of the time, was having a blast. This enjoyment took some of our concentration, and soon enough Ora Blu closed the distance on us, and we had them on our side, ruining the perfect scene of morning sun coming through clouds.
Dejan realised there is no time for kidding anymore, and as he took trimming in his hands and we slowly got away from them. At that point, the mood was good as we were positioned behind Fram, but were closer to Jabuka. Looking back at boats is much sweeter than seeing them in front of your bow.
As we were getting closer to Jabuka, the day got hotter, and this ‘November offshore race’ got us in our shorts and shirts, with sunglasses on, so that the sun doesn’t get in the way of seeing the Rock in front of us. Despite seeing Jabuka, that doesn’t mean you are close to Jabuka, as we painfully learned in the next three or four hours. There was a lot of mixed emotions as the wind as getting in the changing puffs, which my crew likes to talk about a lot. Prevailing mood was a positive one, made by the delightful sight of much bigger boats around us, as we were in the front pack.
Dejan and Jure disagreed on tactics often, and Dejan had the upper hand most of the time. Jure convinced otherwise, showed minimal signs of worrying over this, but none the less he took place at the bow and gazed in front for a while.
Rounding Jabuka was frustration more than awe, as Ora Blu appeared from nowhere on the left, and went in front of us. This caused tactics talk all the way from Jabuka into the night, and I must admit I stopped listening carefully to this, as the colours in the sky were beyond words. Sunset brought some breeze, and the pleasure of sailing was just overwhelming at this time to pay attention to the race at all.
At this time our fleet position appeared to be second as we crossed path with Petite Amie and another Seascape on our way back, and were confident they are left behind as they were only going in the direction of Jabuka. This, anyhow, was wrong. The trackers lose their signal around Jabuka, and Petite Amie’s only reappeared at the very end, just for us to see they are a mile or more in front of us after rounding Blitvenica. Disappointment kicked in once again, this time mixed with weariness and a longing promise of steak and gin tonic at the finish line.
What amazed me was Dejan. He definitely caught the least sleep out of all of us, but he was once again in the racing mode, and even though it looked clear that we were coming third, he did not only not give up, he also analyzed every possibility around the islands, and trimmed even more, helmed for a while, and made us do some of the most organized tacks we did the whole race. What is nice about Dejan is that he is not doing this in a way that would leave you feeling under command. He is a natural leader in this, and you feel as following is the unquestionable thing to do.
None the less, in the end, we did come third, even after our last try to round the last island in the small channel. Considering the effort put in avoiding this, I was once again stunned that there was no especially sad feeling in the air. Except for a lot of exhaustion.
My guys, all excellent sailors, were also superb personalities to share the onboard experience with. No whining, a lot of positive attitude, and a very sporty spirit lead us through the regatta. It was a great pleasure to feel this thick air of emotions, the exhibition of astonishing colours and all the small pleasures of sailing a boat in competition mode.
The end of the night is enabled us to relax slowly, and take it all in as we were eating a lovely steak, served at two o’clock in the morning, and sharing experience with others, learning about the stories that were behind the simple sight of a boat with sails in front of you. The race makes the stories interesting, but the community makes this interesting worth a while. Sharing experiences with the people who also thought was a good idea to not sleep in the comfort of their own bed these few days, makes these experiences complete.
I wonder what other people did this November weekend.