With boats built from coconuts and recycled materials, 37 RVYC members, both young and old, competed in the Varuna 1st Boat Challenge, held on 20 March 2021. The first race of this sort has inspired a permanent trophy and calls for more fun, creative events for kids and adults.
The Royal Varuna Yacht Club’s Coconut Boat Challenge was born of a tea break chat that basically ended with “if you write a notice of race, we’ll be on the committee and submit a competitive entry”. Pom Greene, the club’s local carbon fiber expert and nautical engineer, agreed to join and with valued encouragement and support the idea was announced, NOR was posted and materials were supplied at the Junior clubhouse.
Simon Denye’s family connection with Star Yachts and his business in healthy coconut drinks, suggested Harmless Harvest as a perfect sponsor to support the event.
Soon there were mysterious sightings of “very fast” prototypes in RVYC waters, and online glimpses of tank and wind tunnel testing at secret facilities. Varuna’s first coconut boat race was on….
On race day, 37 entries were submitted. The range of designs, from sleek sloops to stately square riggers, catamarans, trimarans, battened sails and balloons, testified that there is no shortage of creativity at Varuna.
One boat stood out: Pom’s entry, which immediately challenged the still-fluctuating rules, and a protest was officially logged at the first race. It may be a fortunate development that Pom’s balloon popped at the start of the second race, before the jury was called to decide.
Unfortunately, the wind was not cooperating so it was decided to shorten the race to widths across the club’s pool. Every heat brought a new surprise, but it was clear that square rigged multihulls had the upper hand in the day’s conditions. Once again, some unconventional designs surprised with their speed, and sometimes radical sailing characteristics. Heated competition in fluky winds did eventually produce winners.
The event was a first at Varuna, but many members have already indicated that it should not be the last — a permanent trophy has been commissioned. Congratulations to the 2021 winners and to all competitors for participating in this fun event for children and adults.