This week has been a busy one and fortunately guest blogger Bucko has been continuing his adventures on the high seas and beaming them back to Secret Water, for those of us stuck on land and dreaming of the white stuff. Whilst I can understand it entirely, I’m not sure that I have total sympathy with his predicament of an overdose of power sail trimming and the need to get back to basics…as they say a bad day on the water is better than a good day in the office! Anyway, in this latest guest blog, Bucko brings us an enviable snapshot of the Antigua Classics Race Week 2010. Over to you Bucko…
Well there are some perks to this job! being in the right place at the right time has not only left just me exhausted and sore but has rekindled my love of all things simple in the world of sailing. After joining the crew on a classic Caribbean Carriacou for Antigua Classic Race Week I have had to relearn the art of hauling in a sail and hoisting a spar.
Our Captain and owner Alexis built Genesis with a local boat builder the traditional way on the beach with a minimum of modern tools and no epoxy or electronic gizmos. Alexis works as a professional photographer here in Antigua and is the driving force when it comes to keeping these traditional fishing craft alive. With 10 entrants in our class ranging from 34ft to about 50ft we left the dock on a clear afternoon for our first practice sail and within 20 minuets we were punching into a fine Caribbean breeze and a healthy seaway to wet our decks and bodies. It’s amazing how little you need to get the best out of a boat! A couple of bits of spare string, some borrowed blocks and the top section of a destroyed spinnaker (that we made into our secret weapon).
The fleet was divided into two distinct groups; firstly locals who use their craft all year round for commercial fishing and then the owners who bought, or have had boats built by locals, and race and cruise them for enjoyment. So you are left with newish boats with new sails and old fishing boats with sails fuller than a fat girl’s sock. The strange thing is that when you sail one every day for work and have no engine or electronics you get pretty damn good at knowing your vessel!
Race one started in about 17 knots of wind and by half way around the 20ish mile course we had the later starting big division thundering at us with plumes of spray coming off the bows of Ranger, Velsheda and the other huge division one classics. This timed in with a 28 knot rain squall hitting the fleet, Genesis had every piece of washing hoisted, spinnaker, staysail (half the genoa left up),the home made “water catcher”(a sail hoisted under the boom of about windsurfer size) and our huge gaff rigged mainsail, with its boom hanging some 5ft over our stern! We were off like a shot dog!
8kts…9kts…10kts…. You have this strong feeling in your stomach that this boat should not be going this fast and why did I volunteer to trim the winchless mainsail? After surviving the first race we then had a carbon copy for day two! This included rain squall and a worse seaway. Race day three was a reach out, reach back and same again, so it was a day for the waterline boats and we saw the larger heavy schooners get through us. It has all come down to day four with even points for us and our rival Summer Cloud for first place overall .Lucky for us there was some good heavy upwind work and managed to keep the enemy at bay… but we still finished with equal points and all held our breath until the prize giving to hear if we’d won on count-back or whether the race committee were going to do it on elapsed time averages…and the results were;
- First in division
- First in class
- Second in concourse de-elegance