Staniel Cay, Cruisers Regatta
The island hosts their annual Cruisers regatta on New Years Day, January 1st, 2009. What a way to start the new year! I can only hope that this year continues with many more enjoyable races like this one. Of all the 100+ days of sailing in 2008, this was probably my favourite! The boat performed amazingly, and I was able to enjoy this day with my whole family and some new friends.
I believe 17 boats entered the race, including a few Catamarans. It was a down wind start to make it fair for the variously rated boats. The pre-start was just as exciting as the race it self, we used this time for the new crew to get familiar with the ropes. The waters we raced in were shallow, about 8 to 12 feet deep, our boat draws 6 feet 6 inches, so I was a little nervous. but the race committee guaranteed that we would be fine on the entire race course. The race committee messed up the start a little, with the canon firing about 30 seconds late, and we thought we may be over the line early, so we held back at the start until we heard the cannon.
So basically we started a little late from the lead boats. But we quickly caught up. There was some stiff competition. Our greatest competition came from “Different Drummer” a 47 foot semi-race boat, with a crew of over 12 people, many on the rail. The boat had a retractable keel, so they could adjust it for the depth of the water, and with it fully extracted I believe it was 9 feet deep. It sailed very well close hauled to the wind. Before you knew it Black Diamond took the lead, and “Different Drummer” was just a little nervous. They have entered this race 7 times, and they were gunning to win. We exchanged lead position a couple of times. We made a few mistakes, we were over powered by the main a few times, and were forced to tack prematurely. We made a couple of tactical errors as well. But still gave “Different Drummer” a run for their money. In the end they only beat us by about 3 minutes, their time was 1 hour 31 minutes, many other boats took closer to 2 hours to finish. The 3rd place boat was Wind Swept IV, a 40 foot C&C if I am not mistaken. They were about 6 minutes behind us. We even beat a 40 foot catamaran. They are usually much faster especially down wind. But, I just refused to let him pass me. Every time he tried, we just kept taking him up wind, and thy can’t sail as close to the wind as us. Not bad for a crew of family cruisers that just met the day before. Later that evening, we attended the awards ceremony out by the beach and had a Bahamian dinner with the other racers. The race committee and the islands locals were so generous and also included a hand made gift bag, paintings, home baked banana loaf, and other prizes.
The local news even covered the event, it was featured at this link. Bahama Island News Info
Duane and Kim the newly weds never even raced before. Below is an account of the race by Duane.
“I have never even seen a sailboat race in person so to actually be a part of a crew was amazing. Before the starting signal, the boats would tack back and forth fighting to get as close to the starting line as possible. This of course results in boats heading straight for one another and then at the last minute, sails are adjusted to make a sharp turn. It felt like playing a car game of chicken but on the water. This part of the race was probably more stressful than the actual race itself. Without going into all the details, we swapped between first and second place, finally taking second place. Not bad for a crew that just met the night before.”