Yesterday Neu took first place with his boat Valente in the regatta held in Parajuru, a community down the coast from Prainha.
Fifteen boats took part and Neu was unfortunate enough to draw 14th place in the line up, giving him an enormous handicap and seriously limiting his chances of a position in the top 5. Before the start the boats are held by the 3 man crew and one assistant in the shallow water until the starting fire crackers go off, then the crews push for all their worth to get their boats into deeper water, crew on board, rudder attached and get under sail as fast as is possible. Being placed so far down the beach, a good start was vital to Neu and thankfully the guys got what they needed, passing many other boats still getting out of the shallow waters.
As the boats head out to sea I rely on our friend Menis, who’s eyes are better then mine, to tell me which boat is placed where. Before too long Menis said it looked like Neu had managed to get into 2nd place, but there was a huge gap between him and the leading boat which is newly built and should be faster, riding higher in the water as it’s polystyrene filling is lighter, where as Valente’s is heavy being pretty much water logged having been in use for 6 years now.
At the 2nd marker buoy Neu’s crew managed a excellently fast turning of the mast and sail and closed the gap further but there was still a long way to go and anything could happen.
Back out to sea again they went, going so far that even Menis could no longer tell who was where. We had to wait for the boats to turn round the final buoy and come back into view, how thrilled we were to see Neu clearly well in front, his supporters many of whom had been saying all week that he would win were ecstatic.
As they came back to the yells of the crowd, I was torn between wanting to get as many photos as I could and getting to Neu. Menis later told me that the first thing Neu asked when he stepped off the boat was where I was, he didn’t have long to wait, I got just enough photos before getting the best of hugs and kisses from a very happy Neu.
I know the Dr would not approve of Neu’s racing, on our last visit to the Dr’s he said that Neu’s blood tests showed a rise in uric acid levels, this is not good and undoubtably caused by the increase in physical activity that Neu had done, racing in the previous regatta (where he came 2nd) and preparing for this regatta but I also know that winning this regatta has given Neu a very much needed boost. He’s had a rotten time of things since finding out about his kidney failure a few years back. Neu finds being off work sick intolerable and can be a dreadful patient but for the first time in a very long time he is a very happy man, tired but very happy and that’s got to be good medicine.
1st place Neu, Lano & Preto
2nd place Bebe (Menis’ brother) Edi (Neu’s brother in law) & Mede
3rd place Kito Velho (Neu’s brother) plus 2.
©Claire Pattison Valente 2011