|Kim and I had just
started sailing together and the 1996 Commodores Cup was our first real
race together. That year we had a pretty good leg up to the Lighthouse
with our 25 year old Hobie 16, Phuza Moya. In fact we rounded the mark in
3rd place to our great surprise. On the return leg we slowly dropped back
and couldn't figure it out. At the finish trying to pull the boat up the
beach, we found out that our starboard hull was full of water and that the
reason we had done so well on the outbound leg was that we were flying the
starboard hull keeping it from filling up.
So we prepped the boat really well for the 1997
Commodores Cup. Actually what we really did was sell Phuza Moya and bought
a new Hobie 16, Jabula Manzi. With so much boat preparation, what could go
like most Commodores Cups, the awaited Sunday dawned black and foreboding
with the usual offshore swirly northwester. Just after the start several
boats flipped over in the gusty conditions. Kim and I pitch-poled Jabula
Manzi three times in quick succession, really putting a smile on Kim's
face. The forth time was the kicker! We buried the hull, pitched forward
and Kim went flying chest first into the mast. I got flung all the way
past the bridle wires landing about 10 foot from the overturned
I started swimming towards the boat while Kim, now in
great pain, hung on in determined fashion. With all the cold weather gear
slowing me down,
I wasn't closing the distance between me and the boat fast enough as the offshore wind
was slamming into the upturned hulls and driving the boat away from me.
After several minutes of swimming I got to within just inches of the mast
and made a desperate lunge, just as a gust pushed her out of my
reach. For ever!
From then on I was treading water just beyond the
swimming buoys in my foul weather gear hoping the life jacket would do its
job and not sink like Phuza Moya the previous year! The wind quickly
pushed the Hobie out to sea, and all I could do was yell to Kim to hang on
for dear life.
Our antics had not gone unnoticed on the beach. Remember
I was treading water only 1/4 mile past the start, and just beyond the
swimming buoys, but Kim and my precious new boat were slowly disappearing
over the horizon out to sea. Well OK, maybe not the horizon, but they were
out beyond the tankers in less than half and hour.
With the offshore winds blowing in my direction, I started to
hear the sirens as several fire trucks, ambulances and paramedics vehicles
arrived on the beach determined to wake up the hotel residents with their cacophony.
Fat good it was doing me as I treaded water and watched my expensive new
boat disappearing from view!
Around the 45 minute mark, I noticed a wonderful sparkly
new Coast Guard cutter making its way North on the horizon looking for Kim.
Great crew that she is, she told them to leave her and first pick me up and they headed East
towards the beach to find me. The polite young guys hauled me out and we
turned around to go and pick up Kim. Their plan was to pick up Kim, see if
they could tow the boat back in, and if not, leave it out there. So to be
polite I nodded my head, climbed up the bridge and enjoyed the bouncing
As we got close to my shivering crew and precious new
boat, I dived off the bridge, surfaced, turned around and waved to thank
my rescuers. I joined Kim on the hull, who was by now in fine smiling
form, and together we righted the Hobie and clambered aboard the
"Sheet her in" I screamed to Kim, "Its
not over yet, we can still win this thing!". This was not exactly
what she was waiting to hear, and the choice vocabulary that excited that
sweet mouth of hers is just not fit for this fine family website.
So like two drowned rats, in complete silence, we limped
back to the beach. From what I remember of that race, Willie Stolberg was
the only Hobie to make the Lighthouse and returned the winner.
Over the next few days the Steyn household was very
quiet. I just couldn't accept that we had quit and lost the trophy. Kim on
the other hand, complete hypochondriac that she is, went off to the
hospital to find out that she had cracked two ribs and bruised her sternum
on the collision with the mast. Like that's an excuse not to finish what
the next 12 months, Kim and I slowly started making eye contact and by the
time the 1998 Commodores Cup arrived, we had even begun talking to each
other without the use of those choice words of contempt!
Kim and I had actually got married that year and I
threatened to divorce her if she didn't crew with me in the Cup. As in
1997, the morning of the 1998 cup was just as dark and foreboding with
strong winds. Kim was beside herself. She hadn't sailed much the past 12
months (couldn't figure out why), and wasn't looking forward to the race.
I just kept reminding her that she could kiss the house goodbye along with
all the other privileges I bestowed upon her, and she finally
Mark and Lynn Jones were the class of the fleet on the
outbound downwind leg and led Willie, Hunter and us at the half way mark.
However, on the return leg, double trapped to the max heading into the wind, we
slowly started to pick them off one by one, and soon we were second.
We were climbing higher than Mark and slowly gaining on
them, but I wasn't sure how much more of this Kim could take. I had
promised to sail within our limits (yeah right!), and I was reassuring her
all the way with my velvet voice, saying soothing things like, "don't
worry Honey, it'll soon be over, hang on there, everything's going to be
all right and NO DON'T YOU DARE COME OFF THE WIRE - GET BACK OUT THERE,
WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!" you know the gentle reassuring coaching that
most skippers do.
were gaining on Mark and we were just beginning to think we could actually
have a chance of passing them when in a very uncharacteristic lapse of
concentration, Mark buried the hull and flipped it end over end. We
shouted to check that they were OK (but I am told that in the wind they
actually couldn't hear our calls!), and sailed past.
was beside herself at this time. I was now truly coaching her to relax and
just hang on in there, but I could see she was on the edge. By the time we
rounded the finishing mark and headed for the beach, Kim was sobbing
uncontrollably. I had no idea how much courage she had used to stay out on
the wire when all she wanted to do was get on the trampoline, snuggle up
into a cocoon and be whisked off that nightmare of a boat aboard a magic
Kim, the Commodores Cup was her first and only trophy that she has won,
and now her name is engraved on it for perpetuity. There on the trophy
reads the plaque - "1998 Kim and Danny Steyn". How bitter sweet
was our triumph. You see, you must never give up, you never know what will
happen if you hang on in there and give it your all.
Footnote: That was the last time Kim ever raced with me!
What's up with that!
Danny Steyn, August 2003.