The TT Race and the Isle of Man is the most famous motor cycle event in the world and has been running since 1907. How could we possibly sail by and not witness the spectacle. It was on the bucket list and highly rated on our voyage.
We docked just after 1300hrs on Friday 30th May after receiving instructions from the Harbourmaster to raft up to a fishing boat just inside the harbour entrance, and with our bows pointing out to sea. This done, we were given a registration card to complete and told there was no rush but deliver it to the office later. We were told that this weekend was the busiest on the entire calendar for Peel and we were lucky to be offered a berth.
As soon as I had purchased a local courtesy flag…up the mast it went with a large black Kiwi flag right underneath it and we had arrived! It always creates a lot of interest. Paul quickly determined that the evening was for practice laps and that we needed to move quickly to a vantage point before the roads on the island were shut off to traffic.
We grabbed a taxi and headed out along the race course about 6-7 miles to a pub called the Mitre where there was a large group of enthusiasts waiting for practice to start.
Nothing could have prepared us for what happened next. We heard the noise of a highly tuned race bike in the distance and then like a high speed bullet it flew past us and was gone! The speed was insane! We turned to each other with our mouths gaping – UNBELIEVABLE.
For 2 hours we watched the procession which ended with the the side cars screaming through.
The course is 37 miles long and the riders take just over 17 minutes to complete a lap reaching AVERAGE SPEEDS of 130 MPH and TOP SPEEDS of 192 MPH on roads that are not dead smooth but have the normal bumps and hollows on them.
We had a meal at the pub and caught a bus back to the yacht. The buses run every 10 minutes and are very clean and modern.
Saturday 31st May is the Big Day with the main race being the super bikes. We were advised to catch a bus well before the roads close off at 1000hrs. First up was a Big Boys breakfast which we cooked aboard Meg. A quick trip to the ablutions block and we are good to go. Black Kiwi shirts, black caps and you’ve got it, the black New Zealand flag.
During the bus ride Rory was talking to a local man (Mark) who was also headed for the circuit at Douglas and knew the ropes! When the bus stopped he said “follow me”, and we were off to the start line. He got us over the foot bridge and into the cemetery that borders the race track so we had a close up view of all starters which are let go at 10 second intervals. The black Kiwi flag was draped over the concrete wall and probably appears in a lot of the starts coverage.
Anyway we were there to support Bruce Anstey the Kiwi super bike rider. During the day our new guide moved us 4 times to get a great perspective of the event. On one occasion we had to roll under a fence in the school grounds to get the ‘right’ view. Rory took lots of still shots and video clips on his camera including one of Bruce Anstey as he began the last lap in which he broke the race record for the fastest lap ever recorded at 132.2 MPH average speed. He also clocked the fastest time on the straight at 191.7 MPH (306KPH) and finished fourth overall.
First place – Michael Dunlop
Second place – Guy Martin ( star of the movie ‘TT, closer to the Edge’) Third place – Connor Cummins Fourth place – Bruce Anstey
What a huge day out which culminated in the big beer tent where all kinds of stunts were being performed on motorcycles and race cars and the crowd going wild.
Our only regret was that Darrin Butt (Sarah’s dad, Rory’s future father-in-law) who is a mad enthusiast and former side car “swinger” could not have joined us. He had had a rather serious back operation in Germany and was not yet ‘cleared for take off’. Next time Darrin, and don’t take it off your bucket list!
Today as I write is Mad Sunday when Joe Punter is able to take to the track on his motorcycle and emulate the professionals. Ouch this will get messy. Ten years ago they improved the odds of surviving this death wish by allowing only one way traffic on Mad Sunday and NO CARS.