Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Race Week Special

At this point we have been to a number of regattas over the last couple of months, and we figured we'd finish up the circuit with Sailing Week in Antigua.  After The Classics, there wasn't as much eye-candy at the docks but the activities and fun atmosphere is infective so we just couldn't tear ourselves away.

Henry spent a bit of time reviewing the results of day 1 racing and noticed a number of Canadian skippered boats on the lists - interested, he dug a little deeper and then to our great surprise said, "Hey, I know this guy!!"

It turns out that a friend from racing days at Nepean Sailing Club was down here skippering a Jeanneau 40 in the bareboat class.  Now we had a mission - find Mike Nahir in the  crowd of hundreds of sailors spread out across Nelson's Dockyard and Antigua Yacht Club.  Well, we must be pretty good sleuths because by early evening we had found him and the crew of Summerwind and made arrangements to meet up the next day.  Team "Les Voyageurs" made us a wonderful offer and invited us to come out racing with them!

Easy winds and a relatively flat sea made for a great day out on the water.  I can't remember the last time we just went for a sail, and on someone else's boat no less - so relaxing in many ways.  Relaxing?  A race??  Well, okay, moments of intense excitement followed by just taking in the joy of sailing across the intensely varied hues of blue as we hung on the rails. 

Skipper Mike has his race-time face on - the crew preps during pre-race manoeuvres.
Eva relaxes on the foredeck while the jib is still furled.  Our bareboat class was the last in the start sequence so we had a little time just to hang out.
A little more intensity at the start-line.

Oops, Erin administers some first aid to Scott when he ended up with a bloody finger.
Downwind leg and holding our own against Maxwell.  Hey, toss us a beer!!
Steady on Captain!
Beer transfer complete - let's round the mark before these guys!
Such tourists - lounging on the rail!
Me too - happy grin.
And with that our first race was done.  Couldn't believe how quickly two hours had passed.  We were behind but managed to finish ahead of Maxwell through some well thought-out tactics that found us a bit more wind and perhaps a little less current.  After a quickly shared lunch of bread, cheese and apples, we prepped once again for the afternoon race.  Being the same course as the morning, we figured we'd learned a thing or two.   Henry happily took a turn at winch-grinding for the race while I, just as happily, remained on the rail lending ballast against the heel.  Mike got us in position for an exciting, close-quarters start and we were off.

Oh no! - rounding the second mark and easing the sail for the downwind leg, the topping lift evilly wound itself around the fitting at the split back-stay.  Nothing would release it until Scott wrangled it free while Mike carefully played with a jybe.  For those that don't sail, this little feat was pretty scary to watch because Scott could easily have been thrown off the back of the sail if Mike allowed the wind to flip the sail to the other side.  If we couldn't get the topping lift free we couldn't use the sail to it's full advantage with the wind behind us.  For those that do sail - it's amazing how limited you are in options when there is no extra line available on the boat.

Miraculously, Scott freed the sail as everyone watched with baited breath.

Unfortunately at this point we had lost too much time to make up the rest of the fleet but the afternoon unfolded with a glorious sail and in fact we didn't come in last so all was not lost.  Also unfortunately, my camera went on the fritz so I lost a number of mid-race pictures (perhaps we should be thankful) until I got it back in action just before the finish.

The end in sight - just coming up to the finish mark.
Now lets go for a fun sail!  Mike eased his shoulders from race tension while Michael took a turn at the wheel.  Eva, Jane, Ian, Frans and Henry relax in the cockpit.
Making our way into English Harbour to take up berth at Nelson's Dockyard at the end of the day.  Frans is on anchor duty.
To round out the evening we shared a delightful meal and are busy making plans to meet up on their day off.  What a wonderful day and thanks to Les Voyageurs for inviting us aboard.

Cheers to you and fair winds for the last two days of racing!!