Plans of Mice and Men


by Peter Fitzgerald
© 2006 P. Fitzgerald
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Now the Rottnest Channel swim is over for 06, congratulations to the winners and grinners and to the bulk of the field who persevered through some of the worst conditions the channel crossing can throw at you. The sheer courage and determination of those swimmers struck down by sea sickness, the sheer will to win needs to be commended. The fortitude and the courage of the support paddlers who stayed with their swimmers needs to be recognized and the skill of us boat skippers as well.

I would also like to thank the organisers on a good job, except at the start, when the field took a sharp left turn to the southwest well before the two green markers near the sail training ship "Lewiuin, but as we all know when battle has been joined , all plans go to hell. I took the more direct route, and gambled that the sea breeze would not come in so early, I used gps marks, tried and tested for a quick crossing, knowing that my team 216, the Little Grove Mermaids" from Albany having trained often in the cold cold waters of Princess Royal Harbour, were as well trained as they could be a swim to Rottnest would just be a warm bath to them. The Mermaids had a real hunger to finish as this was their first attempt at the crossing. My battle plan for th3em was to push hard for the 15 km gate, them sw2ing southwest to bring them in just past Phillip Rock, unfortunately for me the sea breeze just got stronger and stronger, so by the time we were at the 15 gate, we were struggling to south of the marks and stay in the race. The closer we got to Phillips rock, the stronger the current and the bigger the waves. I could hear the distressing calls on the VHF as other teams, their hopes shattered reluctantly withdrew to Rottnest. I lost count at 20. As for me skipper of "FITZEE" it was very stressfull, my head was on a swivel, keeping lookout for other boats, unescorted swimmers making a dash for the finish line and trying trying to keep station on my team. With agonizing slowness, we crabbed into Thompson bay around the last bunting yacht and on to the finish line.

As a escort skipper of 11 years I have never seen my swimmers cross the finish line, but I have the satisfaction that I have done my job to get them there, and who knows, maybe next year somebody may need my services again.


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