As we crossed the finish line the air of excitement and colour rushed out to meet us.
The salt and sweat of the past four days washed away in a moment of realisation that we had done it, finished this great race and better than that we had done ok.
Friends and family were on the edge of the docks as we slid into Constitution dock, still coiling sheets and flaking sails. The work far from done.
There were cheers and clapping from locals, other yachts and family alike. You could not help but smile and feel that this was a special moment in a life, one to be cherished. For those that were welcoming you, you could sense that you had lived their dream or shared in a journey that meant every bit as much to them as it did to you. We were brothers and despite the hard competition out there, it was time to party, reminisce and tell tall tales from the battle field.
When we tied up the support crew of family piled onto the yacht along with cold beer and food. There was a moment of sadness and isolation for the few of our team that did not have that special person there to hug and kiss. They would arrive later or in some cases be met back on the mainland in a day or twos time.
It did not matter though, after a few minutes we were welcomed back as one team and you could not begrudge lovers, sons or daughters their minute with their heroes. Ours would come.
As always there are more people than you know or have met and there were two beautiful young ladies that had slipped under the radar in the months leading up to the race.
Both were tall and attractive, one more assertive than the other but both worthy of a good whip lash injury when passing in the street. For simplicity I shall call them "Aye" and "Bee" to protect the guilty.
Bee appeared as the quieter of the two and was the daughter of one of my fellow team mates. Aye was a friend of one of the families through connections too tedious and sad to explore.
As if their beauty was not enough, both were over achievers in their various fields of work and for me that is a very sexy thing too.
I had a special friend of my own coming to visit the next day so I was not looking for trouble but in another world or time, it had just landed in my lap in the shape of Aye and Bee.
With the champagne and Bundy Rum flowing and the singing on nearby yachts ringing in our ears it was decided by the girls that we should go ashore and to the Customs House pub where there was more alcohol infused sailors than a US Navy visit to Kings Cross in Sydney.
I would be lying if I did not say I felt like a god as I entered the pub. It may have been the gut full of rum or the blonde on each elbow but either way I had a spring in my step and felt invincible. For the moment at least.
Over the throb and pulse of music the rum flowed. The Mexicans were in full song after their first ever entrance in the race and much like the end of a football match they had set about swapping shirts with other teams such that in no time they were representing some of the big money yachts from the race.
Their enthusiasm and celebration of life is contagious. Sadly it is probably the one thing missing in our culture.
Bundy and coke was being distributed by the jug and a half empty glass was never that way for long even if you could not make it to the bar.
The comradeship was a pleasure. You would see the name of a yacht on a shirt and it did not matter that you did not know the person in it. You just had to know if they were near you at some point in the race and you had a conversation starter.
For some reason every one wanted to talk to me and it was then I realised it was actually Bee that was drawing attention not our performance in the race.
Aye meanwhile had gone for a walk with a mate and managed to put herself out of commission. Too much bubbly stuff had resulted in a moment where she though she could fly and was harshly reminded by gravity that she could not.
By all rights she should have been in a hospital but she was attempting to soldier on for the cause. What cause I do not know but it was her mission and I left her to it in the corner of the pub.
As we approached lock down in the pub Bee was starting to loose it and running interference for such an attractive lady was starting to wear thin on me. I had not been specifically tasked to ensure she return home in one piece but I like to look after my own and was determined to ensure that the heavily inebriated Bee did not wake the next day having been used and abused buy 300 horny sailors.
At one point with an arm around her waist and trying to secure some water at the bar I felt a tug. Turning around to see who had jostled me now I saw Bee in a deep kiss with a stranger. As they separated he looked at me and smiled and with a chuckle asked if she was my girlfriend.
I had to laugh as Bee's head rolled around to look at me with crossed eyes and smeared lip stick. "Ooops...wrong boy.." she giggled and smiled at me as if to say it could be me if I wanted.
I was a moment from releasing her into the wild of the night with this guy. I had fought the good fight but she was almost beyond saving. I was no more going to hit on her than I would a cousin (even while in Tasmania) and in her current state the risk of being on the wrong end of a technocolour yawn was getting uncomfortably high.
"Not exactly" I replied to my new friend. He smiled and just laughed. "Fuckin hot, man...good luck eh!" followed by a hi-five as he wandered off.
It was not the last encounter along those lines. At every turn there was a long line of very friendly drunks keen to see a lady. There was nothing threatening during the night and as her shadow I was enough to keep Bee safe until she made it home with the broken Aye and some trusted friends in a cab.
The interesting point for me was this. Here were two very attractive girls in a situation full of strangers that happily got themselves so smashed that one nearly broke a leg being silly and the other had no idea where she was and nearly went home in three different taxis with groups of guys she did not know.
Call me a spoil sport but that seems just plain dumb and for me at least just so not hot.
So all this excitement was within 6 hours of making it to Hobart and at the end of a long 24 hours awake. We had not even made it to New Years Eve yet. There is more to come...