So a few days after finishing I think I’ve got my breath back enough to write a final update for the #anzsailfiji race.
Who remembers the 1995 Rugby World Cup Semi-Final between the All Blacks and England?
The one where Jonah Lomu ran rampant right through the whole team and scored four tries, including that most memorable one where he bowled right over the top of Mike Catt?
Keith Quinn, the veteran broadcaster with decades of experience, was so lost for words that all he could say – live on air – was “Jonah….. JONAH…..Oh!!!……Oh!!!!!”
Well, try saying this in your best Keith Quinn voice: “Django….. Squealer……. Oh!!!!……..Oh!!!!!!”
The race had come to resemble something more like a Title Fight, with two middleweights standing toe to toe, slugging it out, neither giving an inch.
In the White corner we have Django Racing, the younger, better looking of the two, dancing and jabbing away, trying to wear their opponent down.
In the (toxic) Lime Green corner, the older gnarled veteran “Squealer”, looking for the knockout punch.
The bout started off in a brutal manner, with both fighters taking a beating during the first four rounds.
Eventually things calmed down a bit and got more tactical during the middle stages.
Django scored the first major points with a swift left hook, right across Squealer’s nose, early in the fifth.
They thought this could give them a decent advantage, but you don’t get to be older and wiser without learning a few dirty tricks and sure enough, the pugilists from Tauranga Bridge Marina Ltd eventually wore them down and scored a few back themselves.
Deep into the sixth round, the fighters got a close up visual of each other, after fighting blind until that stage.
After that, it was all on. The teams stood right in each others faces, neither one wanting to let the other slip away and gain an advantage.
Into the seventh and it was time to give it all. No one let up, with stamina and endurance being pushed to the absolute limit. Both teams pushing harder than they ever thought possible, somehow finding reserves of energy they didn’t realize they had.
Squealer used all their collective years of cunning to gain an advantage late in the seventh, and it looked like this would carry them to a famous victory.
However Django wasn’t giving up that easily, and with barely a minute to the final bell pulled their last move of the fight, launching a straight right across the face of Squealer, seemingly dropping them on their arse for the final time.
Surely there was nothing left to give…
Squealer had other ideas. They picked themselves up off the canvas and launched one final assault on the young pretenders.
Django tried holding them off with a series of jabs, but Squealer countered with a brutal right hook just on the final bell.
So who won?
Well, it took a while for the ref’s decision to come in and it was eventually announced over the public address system (also known as the VHF Radio) that Squealer had taken out the narrowest of points victories – beating Django by 10 seconds.
Both fighters fell to the floor, exhausted, before picking themselves up one final time for an embrace that lasted well into the night.
So there it is. After a race that lasted just a few hours shy of seven days, Squealer really did beat us over the line by 10 seconds. This photo was taken from the finish boat, showing their nose crossing the line, with us barely a boatlength behind.
It was hard to comprehend at the time what we were involved with, but it was really an epic race, made even better by the fact that it was against our good friends.
I have known some of these guys for the best part of 20 years, and can genuinely say that we could not have hoped to be beaten by a better team.
For those that don’t know, the DDF Syndicate that owns Squealer is a team of seven mates, most of whom are old school friends from Tauranga. This is the third boat they’ve owned, over a period of around 15 years, with their ultimate goal of competing in an offshore race.
That dream was cruelly cut down just 120 miles from the finish of last years race to Fiji, when the mast fell down as they were pushing hard for an overall win.
So to see the joy on their faces at the finish line really did make everything worthwhile, and (almost) made us forget the awful first half of the race.
Well done guys, it was an absolute pleasure trying to knock the shit out of you, and we cannot wait to do it again.
Django Racing out.