Sunday, 13 April 2014

I've never given racing a lot thought. Some times I encourage Henrik to trim the sails in order to get to shore faster, but besides that I don’t have much interest in yacht racing.

I am however a competitive person, so when we the other day ended up in the middle of the Antigua Oyster Regatta, it triggered my competitive bone. Antigua is the centre of yacht racing in the Caribbean, and many cruisers sail to Antigua every year to participate in Antigua Sailing Week or Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta as helpers or as spectators. Nevertheless, I think that if we are going to participate, we might as well go racing!

Capibara can hardly be described as a racing boat with an estimated average speed of four knots. Having said that I don’t think of the Oysters as performance boats either, though further comparisons between the Oysters and a 30 ft. Allegro from 1988 probably stops there!

Henrik has always said that if he in any way could get me to compete, he was sure that my interest in sailing would heighten - and apparently he was right.

To Henrik’s great satisfaction, I steered the boat from Falmouth Harbour to Jolly Harbour, where the boat is anchored now, in order to practice. I accidently gybed a couple of times though, and I also found it difficult to know, where I needed to be in relation to the wind direction (and also to find out the actual wind direction).

But it’s a start. Usually, when we’re sailing, I lie down with a book or a magazine as soon as we’re out of the marina or anchorage. When Henrik is reading about racers, who complain about a difficult race, he always says that they should try sailing on our boat: Every time he has to turn or adjust the sails, he has to move one girlfriend, a couple of pillows, a bathing suit, flippers and a magazine. That of course does not inspire
anyone to race!

A Swedish cruiser told us that he thought it sometimes was easier to sail, when his girlfriend went to the toilet, because then she at least wasn't in the way. Henrik recognizes this scenario, though I normally tell him that he ought to be happy that I’m on the boat at all!

Before participating in any race, we of course need to adjust certain things such as my skills as a helmsman and Capibara’s abilities as a racer. The Oyster boats had for their race left some of their cruising gear at the pier, which also will be necessary for us. We have just been lifted
above our waterline (which we have raised at least 10 cm), and it made us so happy until we realised that the reason probably is that we’re out of water and diesel. With what we have on board now, we will fill a whole bridge with our stuff, if we don’t succeed to clear up before then!

The only question left now is how to get a small cruising boat to participate in a race with huge super yachts?

Signe Storr Freelance Journalist & friend of Boatshed