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Barely There Page 2

Racing a charter boat is very different from campaigning your Sonar or Etchells or, as in our helmsman Charlie Garrard’s case, your J/105. Some bareboats are pretty tired, and sails can have a short lifespan in boisterous Caribbean conditions. Some of the bigger, heavier boats are cumbersome and slow to tack and trying to sail them well can be a frustrating exercise. Local knowledge of winds and

The regatta itself is held over the Friday/Saturday/Sunday, and all races start in the Sir Francis Drake Channel off Nanny Cay. There might be more spectacular places to start a race, but offhand I can’t think of any. We arrived at the line for Friday’s first race with our tails up, feeling good about the boat and ourselves. Naturally, this called for a rude awakening. In the first race, which was dogged by light winds, we watched our Puerto Rican rivals pull out a strong lead to eventually beat us by a good 3 minutes. Ouch! Race two was a different story, though, and we used the freshening breeze well to take an early lead and hold off the hard-charging Puerto Ricans.

Saturday’s race was just as satisfying, for us at least. Once again we sailed a blinder to take the gun again, finishing well clear of the Club Nautico boys (and girl), with the BVI team having another bad day. This put us in the lead by just one point; as long as we finished ahead of the Club Nautico team next day, we would win both the IYCC and Bareboat B! We retreated to our private cove and exultantly demolished another case of Heineken and a bottle of rum.

It was all or nothing the next day, literally. The first race was cancelled for lack of wind, just as we broke clear of the pack to take the lead after a painfully slow run to the back of Peter Island. We were right up at the front again after the restart, but made a poor tactical call that saw the Puerto Ricans do a horizon job on us. To rub salt into our wounded egos, the BVI team on the third Jeanneau 42i had finally found some form, and they too beat us. As the sage once said: some days dog; some days lamppost.

At least we got onto the podium for the first time in three bareboat regattas, finishing second in the IYCC and third in Bareboat B behind our Puerto Rican rivals and a well-sailed Beneteau 36. The prize-giving celebration at Nanny Cay was everything that regatta parties usually are, and it was a subdued crew that departed the Sunsail base for points north next morning.

We had enjoyed a week in one of the world’s finest sailing destinations, we’d had some excellent racing against skilled and motivated opponents, and we’d finally got to the podium. The stage is set for a rematch in 2011.

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