Sunday, May 01, 2011

Sailing week finishes and I am lucky to sail the last two days on an amazing yacht.

There is so much to say about this years sailing week. I think I will leave that for another blog post. There will be dramatic changes I hope to the way it planned and organized. There were many brilliant ideas and for the most part it was well run, but wow!.... some of the ideas were so dramatically wrong that there is no wonder the event gets less and less interest each year. Look out for my blog about all of that soon.

Anyway, as the title of this blog post suggests, I managed to sail a few days with an amazing yacht. It was a custom made 60 foot beast of pre-preg carbon fiber made in France for an Italian owner. He and his wife wanted to have one of the fastest luxury cruising yachts in the world and they indeed got what they paid for. Wow that thing was fast!
On day one of race week I managed to snap a few images of the regular cruising yachts racing outside of Curtain Bluff resort. My wife and I then drove up to Shirley Heights and The Lookout to take a few photos of the racing yachts outside of Indian Creek and the St. James Resort. Here are a selection of those images.




On Monday I took out my Eco Tour boat with my wife, my sister Fran and a few friends and we followed the racing class as they zoomed down past Rendezvous Bay passing Carlisle Bay and Curtain Bluff.


Seeing the two fastest yachts in the regatta, Titan and Genuine Risk battling down wind was quite amazing. We couldn't even keep up with them. Driving the boat and trying to shoot a few photos was not too easy. Here are a few I managed:














We then chilled out for a swim in Carlisle Bay which was lovely. You can't swim and watch the yachts racing past during the internationally famous Cows Week in the UK. Antigua's sailing is hard to beat.



Later that day one of the fastest boats in the regatta that was being sailed by a team of paid professionals was so badly damaged by a fire that she had to retire from the regatta. Titan Powerplay possibly will never race again, so these images are some of the last of her racing. She's the large sloop with the red bow and dark stern.
One of my Zemi crew from our Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta was racing on the black 60 footer I mentioned at the start of this post (shown above with white spinnaker and crew wearing green shirts) and when I heard they lost one of their crew in a accident on board, I asked if I could join them for one of the races. As it happened it was blowing 25 to 30 knots on the day that i joined them and it was a very exciting day of racing indeed. This video done by close friend Roddy Grimes-Graeme of shows some of the action and if you look carefully from 2:27 into the youtube video you will see yours truly trimming the spinnaker at 22 knots. I have spent most of my life windsurfing at speeds well above 20 knots but doing it on a 60 foot yacht was quite amazing.

See all the sailing week videos that were quickly edited after each race and uploaded for everyone to see on this link

Anyway, the boat I was on is called Ourson Rapide and the owner and his wife just wanted to have a good time racing their amazing machine in Antigua Sailing Week. There was an equipment malfunction the day before I joined them and one of their crew was badly hurt taking him out of the competition. They probably could have done with about four more experienced crew. The first mate on board was a extremely experienced French racer and probably would do very well on one of those single handed races. He wasn't the best at communication and I think the main reason he was on board was to help the owner and his wife learn how to race the vessel. The hot shot racer was down below doing who knows what when we were sailing back upwind towards some rocks when the owner decided we should tack. Naturally this was the only decision that could have been made. Anyway, the hot shot came back up after the tack arguing about why we tacked. Needless to say and argument ensued that resulted in him leaving the boat after the race. The boat was now short of two experienced crew. The hot shot was the man who usually did the starts and sailed upwind leaving the downwind sailing to the owner. Anyway, you know where this is going..... I was asked to come the next day and when I arrived I was asked to do the start and the upwind legs. I was then asked to do the down wind legs too. I had come on board to be used as what I like to call on my boat "intelligent ballast" and next thing you know I am on the helm of a multi million dollar racing machine in Antigua Sailing Week. Sometimes you just have to laugh at how things pan out. Anyway, we were doing very well until we had another equipment malfunction which prevented us from using our spinnaker on our second and third down wind legs. It was ultra enjoyable for me anyway and an honor to be given the helm on this beautiful boat. Here are a few images I took from their site:

And these shots were taken by Jame Miller using the wide angle gopro camera. He's friend of mine back home in Antigua between terms from Med school: As you can tell, I was ultra happy to be on the wheel for this race. In fact, I would be ultra happy sailing that boat anytime!!!

This year I ended up staying for Antigua Sailing Week instead of going to the West Indies Regatta because for many reasons I just couldn't go. I was very upset about not being able to race in St. Barth on my boat Zemi especially after we just won the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. Anyway, after sailing with Ourson Rapide for those last two days of Sailing Week I didn't feel so bad.