Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta 2008

The morning of Race one came at us fast. On board racing were a bunch of friends some with experience and some with none. Anyway, we got towed off the dock and quickly raised some sails. All was looking good. As skipper i didn't want to do any pre-start racing as in all the years of windsurf regattas around the world i have found that this never is productive. I just wanted to tack and gybe a few times to get to know how the new sails and crew worked. We were looking and feeling good. We were looking to have an amazing start and i asked the jib sheet man to take in some at about 2 minutes before the start when all of a sudden we had problems. We had been given some old winches from a friend of a friend and it turned out that there was a small piece missing from inside. We found this out less than two minutes before the start when our jib sheet jammed inside the self tailing part. Anyway, we couldn't get the power we needed at the most crucial time of the race. We watched Genesis and a few other boats pull away from us while we rushed to actually take the winch apart with tools rushed up from below deck. It was a crazy rushed team effort....something this boat is now so accustomed to. Finally we were under power and catching the slower boats while keeping up with the two leaders. At times it looked as though we were gaining on the two guys up front while reaching out to the gybe mark. From here i was sure we would pass them as our new downwind "flying jib" was supposed to be very powerful according to the designer. Needless to say, we rounded the mark, hoisted the sail and saw the leading boats pull away even more from us. The guys up front in control of the "flying jib" said it looked funny, and finally i left the helm to have a look. It looked terrible and told them to take it down. Immediately we could feel the boat starting to do better. With only two sails we were no match for the guys up front who had heaps of power more than we did. We managed to finish the race over the line third and got a second on corrected time (corrected according to a formulae to do with finishing time multiplied by your yachts rating. Ratings are calculated according to the weights and measurements of the yacht.) Second wasn't bad for our first race ever. We still had several more to do which meant we'd certainly to better. The sail maker got the weird sail ten minutes after we got back to the dock and could immediately see the problem. He went and checked his emails and noticed that he had made a typo when sending the measurements of the sail to South Africa where it was made. He had mistakenly said 8 meters instead of 3 meters for a particular part of the sail. Anyway, he had to spend most of the night while the boats rested on Antigua Yacht Club Marina cutting it in order for us to be able to use it in the next race. He said although it would now be way smaller than our competitors' sails it would work better than it had done the day before. He also said he'd replace it later with a new one from South Africa free of charge. The next day we did better and although we were slower when we had the down wind sail up than the rest of them, we managed to catch the leaders upwind where we were way faster than them. In fact my crew estimated that we were about a 1/2 mile behind the leader at the down wind mark and managed to finish something like 6 seconds behind them at the finish. We were second over the line behind Genesis, and second on corrected time too. The race had taken over three hours too. There was only one other race due to the lack of wind on the final day. Todd, who had commissioned Ocean Nomad originally, took over as captain on the third race and managed to beat Genesis over the line. Although Genesis and one other yacht managed to beat Ocean Nomad on corrected time in that race, it was a great achievement for the guys to at last have beaten Alexis' yacht over the line. I didn't race that day and slept after 7:30 am for the first time in months. Later on their way into port i took photos of the yacht and the happy crew seen here at the "parade" past Antigua Slipway. Overall Ocean Nomad finished second in the Traditional Class during the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta of 2008 and with the problems we had and all the drama we had to get her this far, we were delighted to have done so well. If you pick up a copy of Classic Yacht Magazine for last month you will read about Peter Dasavery's yacht "Savy" which was finished just before ours down in the Grenadines. We thrashed them badly which made Alwyn and his sons very happy. All the boat builders in the Grenadines are very competitive. First second and third in the class were build by Alwyn and his sons on the beach in Carriacou traditionally as they have been doing for hundreds of years. The next regatta we will do much better.