18 May 2013 | St. Simon's Island, GA
Competing in the Golden Isles Sailing Club's (GISC) annual Coastal Cup Race on May 18 was my goal since pulling Roma for some much needed mast repairs and bottom paint last December. It's amazing how time flies because I would have never thought it would take five months to get her back in the water. Less than a week before the race I stepped the mast, launched, and made the trip down the ICW back to Morningstar/Golden Isles Marina at St. Simon's Island.
The Coastal Cup Race starts in St. Mary's Channel near Fernandina Beach, Florida and finishes at St. Simon's Channel, therefore we had to leave St. Simon's Island on Friday and spend the night at Fernandina Harbor Marina for the race back on Saturday. Roma's crew was my son-in-law, Chris Phillips, and Pat Brasfield, from Sabrina. Pat's husband, Joe, was crewing on Delpine, another GISC member's boat.
Since I was unable to raise a sail on Roma on the trip down from Two-Way Boat Yard after launching, our 30 mile trip down to Fernandina would provide a good opportunity to check out Roma's new rigging and sails. Essentially, this was my only sea trial prior to the race. We departed from Morningstar Marina about 7:30AM Friday morning in order to leave with the outgoing tide.
The weather could not have been more perfect with cool southeasterly winds, a mostly sunny day, and very low humidity. The wind was primarily in our face as we motor sailed the entire distance making an average speed of about 7MPH.
After arriving in at Fernandina Harbor Marina about 3:00PM we topped of the fuel tanks and prepared for the skipper's meeting later in the evening. GISC and the Amelia Island Sailing Club (AISC) have a long standing tradition of holding two races each year, which allows for great competition and fellowship with other sailors. The spring race is held when the prevailing winds are from the south and the fall race is held when the prevailing winds are from the north.
After the skipper's meeting our group comprised of Roma and Delphine's crew enjoyed dinner at a Kelly's Courtyard Café. Delphine's skipper, Dave London, and I followed tradition of treating our crews to dinner. It was a great evening sharing sailing lore and planning strategy for the next day's race. Since Delphine and Roma were in different classes we would not be directly competing against each other, or at least that was the plan.
Fourteen boats from the two clubs started the race at 9:00AM in St. Mary's channel offshore between Cumberland and Amelia Islands. The Southeasterly winds were extremely light at the beginning of the race, barely providing enough speed to maintain steerage. We sailed Roma parallel along the starting line and made an easy turn north at the race's start. For a while we were at the head of the lead pack, but within an hour the winds started building enough for the big boats to break out their spinnakers.
Boats competed in two classes - spinnaker and non-spinnaker with Delphine in the spinnaker class and Roma in the latter. The spinnaker class boats easily separated themselves from the pack and left Roma miles behind by the race's midpoint. In the non-spinnaker class Roma was in the top three or four boats for all of the race.
We turned Roma into St. Simon's Channel and the final leg of the 26 miles race holding on to fourth place, and we felt that with the handicap adjustment we might squeeze out a third place. We finished the race in five hours and thirty-six minutes just over an hour behind the fastest boat. More important though Roma finished just thirty minutes behind the leader in the non-spinnaker class and with the handicap adjustment took third place by one minute. Interestingly, just over two minutes separated the second through fourth place boats.
We had sailed a near perfect race with Roma and could not have been more pleased with the third place cup. Roma is not a race horse, and there were certainly faster boats in our class. We managed to get a very good start and not make any time-wasting mistakes for the entire race.
The weather conditions were near perfect for a downwind run up the coast. Race Chairman David Heine commented afterwards, "What a great day out on the water, especially for the spinnakers." Winds from the Southeast were very mild early in the race but increased to 10-12 MPH by mid-afternoon. Low humidity and temperatures in the mid-80's made for a near perfect day on the water.
The awards program was held at Morningstar Marina at St. Simon's Island with Race Chairman David Heine stating, "The 2013 Coastal Cup overall winner is Richard White in Cocoon; his name will be added to the perpetual trophy which is displayed at Dunbar Sales."
Click here for photos of the race and awards ceremony.