Day four of Antigua and it was an early start to the day. Gear breakages (not on Yeoman XXXII) have left our fleet with two boats – Rio and us. The conditions in Antigua have been beautiful with large rolling waves, hot sun and 15-20 knot winds. Today we had squally conditions with one squall giving us over 30 knots during which our downwind surf was interrupted by a slight mishap with the spinnaker when the wind shifted in the squall and we had to drop in a hurry to make it to the mark. But I am getting ahead of myself!
Second day was a race around the Island and we had 5 boats on the line for our start – Lee Overly the Cookson 50 formerly Chieftain is coming out for the Ocean Series as is Sojana. It was a course that provided many sail changes starting with a beat then bearing off to a reach, a run, a reach and a beat home. We used the J3, A5, A2, A0, JT, GS and SS and with constant trimming by the guys and some really nice surfs where we were constantly in the high teens we were able to beat the Cookson 50 on handicap but couldn’t keep up with the TP52. Unfortunately on the last beat home Windemere who was behind us retired from racing with breakages (I don’t know what) and they have not been out on the race course since.
Day three was a nice relaxing start to the day with a later start. With only two of us on the line we did a match racing start and were successfully holding Rio above layline to the start line until we made too much movement forward and they were able to get enough momentum to get out of the situation by ducking our stern. They had good momentum and were able to power out from under us. At least it made things a little more interesting as with them owing us around 5 minutes per hour we end up sailing around on our own the rest of the day. Despite this the guys are doing a great job of keeping the pressure on and sailing the boat as close to 100% as possible. One of the highlights of the day was seeing two whales breaching off to weather on the upwind leg. It was a close finish with us being around 50 seconds off the TP on corrected time – so many places we could have picked that up but that is the case with any race.
Today day four as I mentioned was an early start with two long races. Thankfully the race committee was persuaded to shorten the second race as it was the same course as race 1 and we had taken 3 hours to do the first race. The race had lots of corners making it hard work for the crew and very crew work intensive. We match raced Rio and the second race had a really great start a good 1.5 boat lengths ahead of Rio hitting the line at top speed on time. A great start to a race that we felt we were doing really well in until our spinnaker mishap. The wind was moving from 080 to 115 and we saw over 30 knots in one of the squalls with it above 19knots most of the rest of the time. There was some rain in the squalls closing the visibility down a little bit. Just as a fun little bit of information – Rio the TP52 is called Rio after Simon Le Bon’s song – Simon sails on the boat as he is a good friend of the owner.
Tomorrow was meant to be a 70 mile race downwind to Redonda and back to Antigua. But all things that go down must go up and we decided the concept of a 35 mile beat on our lonesome was not appealing. So with Rio we petitioned the race committee to shorten the course to a mark that the smaller boats are using. So still a 8am start time but it is only a 35 mile race – thank you race committee! The Cookson 50 and Sojana I believe will be doing the full distance.