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Bar Set for Round Grenada Regatta

I had always looked at trimarans as a bit of an oddity, a curiosity, a vessel used by Kevin Costner in “Waterworld.” But I get a phone call from John Burnie one week before the Round the Island Race saying that he is coming to Grenada with Region Guadeloupe, an ORMA 60, to shatter the record held for the race. Of course the first words to pop out of my mouth are, “You need crew?”  He answers no, the trimaran is being sponsored by Horizon Yacht Charters here in Grenada and they have filled her with crew already.

My next phone call is to James Pascal, begging and pleading to be a part of the crew. Sorry, Danny, all places are taken up already. But so wished, so becomes reality. I get a call from James on Thursday night saying that one of the crew has dropped out and I’m in.

So Region Guadeloupe sails into the marina, 60 foot long by 60 foot wide, and Captain and owner Claude Thelier walks off onto the super yacht docks of Port Louis Marina (host marina and one of the sponsors for the race) after his very fast 15 hour trip from Guadeloupe. There is now a real buzz in the marina. Every single spot is filled, as this weekend the marina is hosting both the Round the Island Race and the World ARC.

Region Guadeloupe is sitting right next to her older and smaller sister, another trimaran, this one only 50 feet, and straight away everyone on the docks is hoping that this is going to be a true race, with these two mean racing machines looking like they are ready to jump out of the poll positions.

Saturday morning, we all head onto Region Guadeloupe. It’s Claude, John Burnie, James & Jacqui Pascal, Olivier, Cutbert Johnson, Dwayne Haywood and myself, and we are all shaking with excitement. Claude and John give us our duties and off we go. The race is basically a start right on the outside of St. George’s Harbour, around the island in a clockwise direction staying on the outside of Sugar Loaf and Glovers Island—and the end is back at the same position as the start.

At the start, Category 5 is looking like she may have the best start, but within a few minutes we are very quickly pulling away from the fleet. After 15 minutes, the sails are quickly becoming smaller and smaller. After an hour, we no longer see them and miraculously we are passing Gouyave. On this day I was completely short of words—the only one that seemed to be working for me was “WOWWWW!” I was completely awestruck by the speed of this beast, average speeds of 18 knots up the west coast, and we are watching the land blur go on by.

Heading down the east coast, we are clocking an average of 25 knots with top speeds of 29 knots. I have never been on a boat this fast and the feeling of exhilaration and adrenaline makes you feel alive.

On the outside of Glovers Island, we call the racing committee to let them know that we are close to the end and will be in very shortly. Their response was, “You joking, right? You guys are that close already?” We are on track to break the record by over two hours.

Five hundred yards from the finish the bolt on the rudder snaps and we have to let the sails down and salvage her before she drops off. We still manage to complete the race in less than four hours, a new race record.

I came off of Region Guadeloupe on a natural high. It was amazing being a part of this race aboard this boat. Thanks, Claude and John, and congratulations to all of the racers and the organizers who put on an amazing event.

The bar has been set. Round the Island 2010 should be an interesting and really fast one. Anyone up for the challenge? www.aroundgrenada.com.

Danny Donelan is the Sales & Marketing Coordinator for Camper & Nicholsons Grenada Services Ltd.

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