Grant Dunoon’s evening at RBYC

If you know Grant Dunoon, you will be aware of his passion for flight, for sail and for technology. You may even have heard of the extraordinary sea rescue back in 2012, when on a dark night during a freak storm, he searched for, located and rescued a crew of six sailors from an angry Southern Ocean near Port Campbell, after their yacht took on water and sank.

Shaken but not deterred by this experience, Grant continued his club and ocean racing, upgrading to a beautiful Moody 54, initially named It was then renamed Blue Water Tracks to keep in synch with Grant and his wife Delma’s business interests. Grant was now set to put his hat into the ring for the Melbourne to Osaka yacht race, a challenging two-handed, 5,000+ nautical mile race held every 4-5 years.

When fellow ocean sailors and members of the Royal Brighton Yacht Club heard Grant was to present on his Melbourne to Osaka race and return, the dinner and ‘show’ tickets were quickly snapped up. No-one was disappointed except for Sue Bumstead, his fellow teammate for the race, who couldn’t be there as she is currently offshore.

Grant warmed up the audience with his Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and a non-trivial competition ‘Guess what’s in the Grab Bag’. The winners were rewarded with Chirping Bird wines from the vineyard of fellow Osaka competitor Rod Smallman. In the middle of each table was an odd-shaped red package.A seamless, technologically savvy presentation and talk followed dinner, which included a brief interview with Rod where he described the conditions at Port Phillip Heads and his view of Blue Water Tracks being launched off a particularly ugly wave in the battle to get out of the dangerous waters at the Heads.

Grant spoke about the boat’s lack of performance once they had settled and were heading to Wilson’s Promontory and described his dismay when an inspection of the forward sail storage locker showed a small leak around the thruster housing which, with such a long journey ahead, could not be ignored. It would have been easy to withdraw at that time but not Grant. He advised race management that they were heading to Sydney to assess the damage, which would more than likely involve outside assistance, and therefore a penalty from the jury.

Arriving in Sydney on Easter Saturday involved more delays and by the time they continued their race, the trade winds moved northwards ahead of them, giving them no opportunity to catch the fleet. Heading slowly north, they were challenged again with damage to their steering which they were unable to repair at sea. This meant another stop, this time at Southport, another penalty and another delay.

Not to be discouraged, Grant and Sue decided to persevere and finally arrived in Osaka to a heroes’ welcome, which greets all finishers of this great race. Grant gifted the Commodore of the Osaka Hokko Yacht Club with a didgeridoo and the welcome party for Blue Water Tracks was celebrated heartily.

Grant admitted to not having given the return journey much thought. The focus had been on the race and getting to Osaka. His presentation on their adventure however was remarkable, with beautiful anecdotes, photos, some spectacular drone footage. Thankfully, there’d been no further incidents.

Oh, the red package? Cruising home in company with Red Jacket and Spirit of Downunder, Grant became aware that it was Annette’s birthday, the skipper of Red Jacket. He launched a gift in a red, inflated garbage bag to drift downwind to them. It was a cinnamon scroll birthday cake, all the sweeter as Red Jacket had no stove, and no fridge. It was devoured with glee by Annette and crew, and by those at RBYC lucky enough to be there for this outstanding presentation.

A lovely gesture which demonstrates the camaraderie that develops between the competitors on a race such as the Osaka Cup from this shared experience.

by Robyn Brooke