Steve Black has been organizing West Marine’s Caribbean 1500
for some 15 years now and has had great success in doing so. The Caribbean 1500
is a sailing rally from Hampton, Virginia, to the Virgin Islands, usually in
November, for cruising sailors that want to bring their yachts in tandem to the
Caribbean for a winter season of sailing.
For the past six
years, Steve has also organized a rally called the Atlantic Cup that returns the
yachts, when seas are warmer, to the U.S. This year Steve had the pleasure of
crewing on the winning yacht, Agua Dulce,
a Hylas 54′ from Park City, Utah owned and sailed by Charles & Gretchen
Cunningham. Their 850-mile course was completed in 4 days and 19 hours.
International, the new owners of Village Cay Marina, hosted a send-off party
for the group that showed true West Indian hospitality. Prior to leaving, each
entry was inspected, with captains and crews receiving weather and communications
briefings. Sun’s Regional Manager, Ken Criswell, welcomed the sailors to the
marina and explained some of the benefits sailors would gain from Sun’s growing
network of 12 full-service marinas throughout the western hemisphere.
Bill and Maureen
Danilczyk’s Conser 47 Catamaran from
Babylon, NY, Runaway, won line honors
for crossing the finish line first. The 15-boat fleet enjoyed small,
comfortable seas, sailing on a close starboard-tack reach from the starting
line at Soper’s Hole, West End, north along the west side of Jost Van Dyke, to
the finish at Spit Buoy near St. Georges, Bermuda. Bright sunny skies and 10-15
knot NE winds remained nearly steady for the first two days with winds shifting
to the east on the third day – then to the SE on the fourth day, giving entries
the benefit of a nice reach for the long leg to Spit Buoy. The St. George’s
Dinghy and Sports Club hosted a warm welcome for the fleet in Bermuda and the
traditional Gosling’s “Dark ‘n Stormy” party, as well as an Awards Dinner.
After a three-day weather delay, former entries set out to complete their
sailing to the US, with many continuing to maintain radio contact with one
another for safety purposes.
Steve Black, whom I have known since 1993
and the 4th 1500, when I was crew on the winning yacht Jesse, tells me, “The trip was a ball.
It is so rare to be in such a stable weather pattern and to know that the
weather should be great right through the end of a passage. Once again,
Commanders’ Weather did a superb job forecasting the wind conditions. Their
predictions held true throughout the trip. Each yacht shared positions and
weather information twice a day over SSB radio. It was apparent from the
beginning that finishes would be very close together, given the good sailing conditions
and slowly developing winds that peaked at around 35 knots from the south, as Kamaloa, the last over the line, rounded
the northeast end of Bermuda.”
Jay Rickett’s Beneteau 461, Ricochet, finished second on corrected
time, followed closely by last year’s West Marine Caribbean 1500 winner, Special Delivery, a Taswell 58 sailed by
Bill and Diana Quinlan of Jacksonville, FL. Karina,
a Tayana 55 sailed by Miles and Anne Poor, was the only double-handed entry
and first to arrive of the four boats in the cruising division.
<pOther sponsors, in addition to West Marine
and Sun Resorts International, for the event were Blue Water Sailing magazine,
ICOM, Switlik, Island Packet Yachts, Doyle Sailmakers, GMT Composites and