The Race

    Angharad and Richard’s boat, the Caer Euni, was tussling with the other craft the Boreas (the north wind) that had secured the southern end of the start line. Its two man crew had initially got ahead and Caer Euni was left in its wind shadow. Several times Richard had steered into a strong position and called out ‘starboard’, indicating they had right of way, but it soon became apparent that unlike in England this rule didn’t apply in Heraklion’s races. One time the Caer Euni nearly capsized, so its crew decided to abandon the tactic of steering close to the wind in order to achieve a downwind leg to the first island, Lefkada. Instead they went on a reach across the wind and soon caught up with the other boat which was still steering close to the wind. Rounding the first island Angharad set the spinnaker sail for the short downwind stretch and kept the sail flying for the reach to the island of Zachynthos to the south west. By now they had overhauled most of the fleet with the exception of Boreas ahead and Poseidon just behind. The race plan included two circumnavigations of the islands before heading back to the start/finish line.
In the lee of the island and preoccupied with the jostling for position neither they nor some of the other crews had noticed a change in the weather. Almost as if from nowhere the wind grew much stronger, and a storm struck the racegoers. The other crews, with their greater experience of the fickle weather in these parts immediately put into the shelter of the island, but the Caer Euni, which occupied a more westerly position was further from Zachynthos. Before reaching the island both Boreas and Poseidon were struck by lightning. The thunder accompaniment was devasting. All the sailors winced as if the noise came from inside their heads. The lightning travelled down Boreas’ wet mast and blew a hole in the bottom of the boat, but the mast remained upright, and the sails held, so they were still able to make way to the island and safety. Poseidon was struck in the stern and its transom was blown out, but like Boreas, the crew was able to make headway to the island, and no-one was injured.
The Caer Euni however, having earlier been forced further to the west by their manoeuvres, was unable to gain any forward movement at all, unlike the other boats which had been better protected in the lee of the island. They had already retracted their spinnaker and Angharad called through the wind, “We have to lower the mainsail, or we’ll capsize.” Richard agreed and they were left with only the jib sail flying, in order to keep their craft heading into the wind. If they were forced broadside on to the waves they would surely be swamped. With great skill they managed to keep afloat in the heavy sea but were swept steadily further west.