With the America’s Cup coming down to a final winner-take-all tomorrow, we are bringing out the big guns, er, stick…
When I was a little kid and sailing around the world with my family, we had a series of incredibly tough passages: from New Zealand to New Caledonia, to Vanuatu, and on to the Solomon Islands. I remember this well because I was the only one on board prone to sea sickness. All these passages were supposed to be downwind. All ended up being a bashing bad time to weather.
By the time we got to the southern end of the Solomon Islands, I would have jumped ship. If I hadn’t been 5 years old. This not being an option, thankfully my folks ended up trading for a “Devil Devil Stick” when we were anchored in Lom Lom in the Reef Islands. In those days the The Reef Islanders made very long passages in their canoes, often across open ocean, for trading purposes. They always took a special carving with them, imbued with the power to bestow favorable weather. One person on board was charged with the solemn duty of talking to the Devil Devil Stick, incurring favor to insure a smooth journey.
Now I’m not saying we are a superstitious family. But I WILL say that I took on the new role of being the chief Devil Devil Stick Talker very seriously. Before each passage, I would hold the stick and have a long talk with him, asking for an easy ride (and easy tummy).
We had downwind passages for the next two years.
Today, after Oracle completed its stunning comeback to tie the score at 8 points apiece, my dad and I were talking about what was going to happen tomorrow. He dug out the Devil Devil Stick, snapped a photo and texted it to me. We’ve been rooting for a close race thus far, and have been rewarded. We have numerous friends on both teams and respect for all involved. But when it comes down to it, our hearts and hopes belong with the Kiwis to take back the Cup.
I’ve had a chat this evening with the Devil Devil Stick. Hopefully he remembers me after all these years. And if the Kiwis win tomorrow, well, you’re welcome. It’s the least I could do.