Offshore Yachting : December January 2008
RHUMBLINE 126 | offshore In any international sporting event, there are bound to be 'language barrier' problems. Ocean racing is no exception, having a vocabulary all its own which is rendered even more inscrutable by the overlay of Australianisms. So, for the benefit of overseas competitors in the 1979 Southern Cross Cup series and the Hitachi Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (perhaps even for the benefit of the occasional bewildered Australian), the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia language experts and nautical scribes compiled the following dictionary of Australian ocean racing slang for the OFFSHORE YACHTING Official Race Programme of 1979. One or two obviously obsolete terms have been deleted. Otherwise, the terms are as relevant as they were 28 years ago. altitude, n. A yacht's height on top of wave crests in storm conditions. bags, n.pl. Unit of wind velocity, e.g. blowing 40 bags (blowing 40 knots). bash, n. Beat to windward in heavy conditions. beer garden, n. Yacht's cockpit, occupied by less physically active members of the crew (the brains trust). blow, n. More than 40 knots of wind. (Can be amplified to a good blow or a bit fresh: more than 50 knots of wind; plenty for everyone: more than 60 knots of wind; and a big blow: plenty for everyone for a day or two.) blunderbuss, n. At the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, means overproof rum and Coke. brace, n. 1. Line running aft from spinnaker pole (known overseas as guy or afterguy). 2. See shout. bricks, n. pl. 1. Rocky foreshore along coastline. 2. Nomenclature for ocean racer's stalwart wife/girlfriend, e.g. she's a brick. brick-hopper: skipper who hugs the coastline (has no reference to how he may treat his wife/girlfriend). Bruce, n. Common Australian first name (if unsure of a male crew member's name, always call him Bruce). bugger all, adj. A regrettable deficiency, e.g. bugger all wind; the crew knows bugger all; a dry ship (bugger all grog). bullet, n. 1. A sharp gust of wind, always encountered when you've got too much gear up (see gear). 2. To get the bullet: to be fired from the crew. bulletproof, adj. 1. Sails made of extra heavy cloth, suitable for storm use. 2. A friend of the owner who cannot be fired from the crew. cascade throat, n. Symptoms of hoarseness and inability to speak with ease which Sydney Hobart yachtsmen rationalise as due to local Tasmanian brew but which is, in fact, the result of over-indulgence, too much talking about big waves, too much singing of nautical ditties, etc. chunder, -v. Frequent occurrence among sailors on Boxing Day, almost always attributed to (but rarely caused by) the Christmas dinner. clunker, n. Yacht which is too heavy or poorly-designed for racing and which is likely to spend New Year's Eve at sea. corner (the), n. Tasman Island, where the yachts turn into Storm Bay, where there is either bugger all wind, or forty bags and particularly big greenies. Crayfish Derby, n. A "fun" race once held at Triabunna several days after the Sydney-Hobart, which was a "compulsory" stop on the international offshore circuit due to the offering of crayfish as trophies. (This event is no longer held, more's the pity! Ed.) dog, n. Yacht with woeful performance record. dog license, n. Rating certificate for poor-performing yacht. Dolan's, n. The Customs House Hotel, Hobart, once owned by the late Bert Dolan, a great friend of visiting sailors. Still the main meeting place for crews, post-Hobart Race. fall off a wave. Flying into clear air at the back of a wave. go-fast, n. Sophisticated item of sail trimming equipment which generally has no effect on the speed of the yacht. Down the Rhumbline Australian yachting-speak can leave newcomers perplexed: "We prawned our kite after a greenie hit our gorilla and he let the kicker fly." For their benefit, Editor at Large Peter Campbell has resurrected this 'Offshore Companion to Australian Ocean Racing,' with original illustrations by Peter Harrigan, from the offshore yachting official program of the 1979 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Most of the terms are still in use, or should be. Edited by Peter Campbell Illustrations by Peter Harrigan "Get the gear off, it looks like Hewey's sending down plenty for everyone."
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