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Anguilla Regatta: Off to the Races … Ready or Not

Skipper Frits Bus hoists the champagne as Team Island Water World celebrate their win in Spinnaker Class. Photo by OceanMedia
Skipper Frits Bus hoists the champagne as Team Island Water World celebrate their win in Spinnaker Class. Photo by OceanMedia

This year the Anguilla Regatta celebrated its 10th Anniversary. For the last nine years, Jan and I have been guests of the regatta; brought in to cover the event for the media. I have taken part in the regatta on all sorts of boats and have even followed the boats around the island while being driven, at break-neck speed along gut-churning goat tracks, in a jeep. This time we did something different, we entered our own boat in the regatta. It was quite an education.

New this year, the first race stated in Simpson Bay, St. Maarten, and finished in Road Bay, Anguilla. But our race started in the Simpson Bay Lagoon with a dash to make the scheduled bridge opening, a race we lost by three minutes. The plume of black smoke from our overworked 10hp engine didn’t bode well. It was not an auspicious start.

Jan called the bridge operator on VHF and asked permission to exit the bridge on the inbound opening in 30-minutes’ time. He refused. With that our regatta was over, so I gave him a call. My voice is pretty familiar in St. Maarten because of my daily radio show on Island 92. So perhaps he recognized my voice or he simply hated to hear a grown man cry, but for whatever reason he agreed to let us through at the inbound opening. Our regatta was on.

We haven’t owned G-String, our Caribbea 30, very long and I had only sailed her in the the lagoon. Jan hadn’t sailed her at all. With no time to get the boat measured for a CSA rating, we sailed in the Open Class.

For an hour before the start, we thrashed around Simpson Bay, tacking and gybing and getting the feel of the boat. And then we were off … our old baggy sails dragging us along behind the rest of the fleet.

We crossed the finish in Road Bay minutes before the race officers stowed their flags and went to the bar. We were so exhausted, we went straight to bed.

Day two:
Having inspected our bent and battered bodies and desperate to find an excuse for our miserable racing performance, we agreed that the sails were too big and the winches too small. Then a hero rode up in an inflatable and when our friend Kathy Gifford asked if we needed crew, we dragged her over the lifelines with such ardor that we skinned her knees.

With the engine chuffing more black smoke as if in solidarity with our reluctant sails, back we went to the race course.

One windward/leeward race and a longer triangular race and we retained our position at the bottom of the scoreboard. We might not be good but we were consistent. Kathy and Jan worked their hearts out and I was beginning to fear a hefty medical bill might be coming my way.

Hobbling ashore at the end of a tough yet glorious day of sailing, to party, made all the pain worthwhile. The Anguilla regatta is one of the most charming and fun regattas in the Caribbean. Run from the beach, the locals and sailors involved are wonderful and despite a mix-up over dates, and little or no advertising, this year’s event pulled in a record number of boats.

Day three:
Sunday was not our finest hour. Unbelievably, Kathy came back for more punishment and although we made a great start, seconds later the rotten stitching on the headsail caught on the spreaders and the sail eviscerated itself. G-String DNF. Crew DNC.

Back on anchor I went for a swim and solved the problem of our poor boat speed and smoky engine: Barnacles on the prop and boat bottom.
I would have offered Kathy the scraper, but she’d already gone ashore.

ANGUILLA REGATTA RESULTS    
Spinnaker:
Team Island Water World – Melges 24
Amcon – Melges 24
Kick ‘em Jenny 2 – Melges 32

Non-Spinnaker:
L’Esperance – Beneteau 45F5
Sint Maarten Sailing School – Beneteau
Nix – X 612

Multihull:
Dauphin Telecom – Trimaran Open 40
Quality time – Du Toit
Carib Cat – MyCat 26

Full results: anguillaregatta.com

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