07 March 2009
As mentioned in the last blog, we entered Sea Sharp in a sailboat race here in Georgetown. First a bit about sailboat racing. My old running buddy, Johnny Nauffts once aptly described watching sailboat races as being as exciting as "watching paint dry". Imagine a race where the highest speed is usually no faster than I can run, and often much slower. Another thing to note is that in handicapped races, it is not where you actually finish but there is a correction calculated after which is a reflection of the inherent speed of your type of boat. So while there is some satisfaction at actually crossing the finish like before other boats, that doesn't mean you've beaten them. In fact, there's often more competition and aggression shown in arguing for favourable handicaps than the actual duelling it out on the race course.
Having said this, sailboat racing can be very exhilarating and competitive. We used to race our various Sea Sharps and thoroughly enjoyed it both for the competition but also as a way of honing our sailing skills. The incremental speed advantage of subtle changes in sail setting can make a considerable difference in distance over a day of sailing towards destinations.
When this race was announced I asked our crew/guests if they wanted to participate and not surprisingly, they were keen. So, we hastily make preparations to transform Sea Sharp from a floating cottage to a racing machine (yeah this last description is a bit lofty for a vessel laden down with supplies, growth on the bottom and generally a cruising craft). Winds are still brisk (in the 15 to 18 knot range). The race course takes us around Stocking and Elizabeth Islands out into Exuma Sound. Its about 20 nautical miles.
There are three "classes"; the smaller (slower boats), the larger (faster boats) and the multi-hulls (catamarans and trimarans). We are in the larger fleet and our start time is ten minutes after the slow boats and ten minutes before the multi-hulls. Conditions are ideal and brisk. We are on a broad reach (fastest point of sail) out the harbour, beat out the inlet (pretty big rollers in the cut) and tack for the long, close hauled course along Exuma Sound to the south inlet. Here we gybe and fly into the harbour for the finish. We tuck a reef in the main for the Exuma Sound portion of the race but shake it out again when we come back into the harbour.
At the end of the day, we came in third in our class; not a bad place at all. It was a thrilling day and we were very happy to get the boat out sailing. I don't think we could have faced our Fredericton Yacht Club friends knowing that we had two visits by Club members and never got the boat off the anchor. Bob is a competitive and knowledgeable sailor and it was wonderful having him on board for this race.