Thursday, September 27, 2012


You've heard about biathalons and decathalons, but what about a tridecagon-athlon? Well, the crew of Astarte entered the Tongan Tridecagon-athlon – part of the Regatta Vava'u festivities. It's a 13-event team competition. The events were quite odd with names like: "Giants, Wizards, Elves", "Oeuf Toss", "Centepede", "Battle-Hip", "Pass the Person", "Tow the Line", "Blind Man's Bluff", "In the Bag", "How Low Can You Go", and a few others .

It was one of those fun and wacky afternoons that will be memorable. The good news is we came in first (well, the scoring was such that in the end – we all came in first!). The silly games were things like rock/paper/scissors; potato sack races, three-legged races that were actually six-legged; egg tossing, limbo, and pie eating. A few new games like hitting a big ball that hangs from a rope with your hips and moving one of your teammates along a course without using any hands. No one got hurt and everyone had a good time. Good music and a few beers helped the festivities.

We came home a bit tuckered out.

That was the Monday events. Tuesday was another regatta day and we decided to race Astarte in what was called the "Boot and Rally" race. We went to the skippers' meeting to find out the race rules which were quite unusual. It was a pretty long course, past a few different islands. . . and required you to get off the boat and go get secret words from two different places. The first place was a cave called Swallows Cave – and inside the cave on a carved tiki was a secret word. The next place would be a beach. So we invited Monique and Jan Bart (off the Dutch boat, "Victory") to crew with us. We towed their dinghy – (faster engine than ours) and as we passed the spots with the clues, Jan Bart jumped in the dinghy (literally) and took off while we continued sailing. He caught up with us with the clue and we continued along the course. It was a good plan. Some boats chose not to tow a dinghy and instead swam to the cave and shore to retrieve the clues. Astarte sailed quite well even with a main sail that is a bit "tired" and out of shape. We hit 7.8 knots at one point! The race took about 3 hours and we finished 4th in the monohull class. The hardcore racers upfront, ran spinnakers and didn't drag dinghies. But we had a good time. We ended the race back at our mooring with a champagne toast!

Later that day we enjoyed a nice presentation on whales and then an old series of historical and documentary films – including some silent films about Tonga. It was another full day of regatta fun and festivities.

In Regatta Vava'u, you get points by participating in the events, visiting local establishments and doing things like decorating your boat. We think it's interesting that most of the boats really participating in the various events are the New Zealanders, Aussies, Brits, Canadians, and Dutch. It seems there are only a few American boats that are diving in. Their loss! We are having a really good time being involved. The regatta continues through the weekend. We have met many new folks and really gotten to know some acquaintances of the past much better.

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