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Caribbean 1500 Cruiser Rally Arrives in the BVI

The 17th annual Caribbean 1500 Rally officially got underway from Hampton, Virginia on the U.S. east coast at 11 a.m. on November 7, 2006, two days later than scheduled due to inclement weather with a low-pressure system passing through the area. Weatherman Ken Campbell recommended that race officials to postpone the start of the record-setting 74 entries and the committee heeded his advice.

Two yachts did venture out taking an early start, Between the Sheets and Faraway Eyes, reporting 25 to 30 knot winds on the nose and heavy seas through the night. Faraway Eyes, electing to hove-to for the night, radioed in to the committee that they were having a rough go of it, but they were safe. On the start line of the 7th, the fleet found light Northerly winds and foggy weather, with improved conditions the following day.

By November 10th, fishing lures were trailing out behind many of the boats with Artic Tern reporting the first fish landed onboard. The yacht Thalia had radioed in a medical emergency to the Coast Guard and one of the crew was airlifted to the shore. The fleet was to be plagued by very light air for days to follow, but the fishing did indeed improve with Thumbs Up landing a rather large yellow fin tuna to the crew’s delight.

At one point, there was rumor going around the fleet over the radio that the race should be renamed the "Caribbean Trawler Trek 1500" as the entire fleet was now under power in no wind. November 14th unveiled the same conditions, with many of the fleet now running low on fuel making their way to Tortola. Between the Sheets was reporting their position just six miles from the finish line, but the committee also pointed out that they did have that two day jump on the fleet at the start!

November 16th is the day that the trade winds finally kicked in, albeit that a large percentage of the fleet were very close to the finish line and the SSB transmissions were having their issues with the fleet reporting in to the race committee. The good news of the day was the expected finishers and the trailing boats were now closing in on the leaders. Many of the stragglers were sailing hard to make the awards dinner at Village Cay, Saturday the 18th, with six of the yachts still out at sea with three holding over in Bermuda.

Overall Winner of the Rally Class was Hi Yo Silver, Ray Dionne’s Pacific Seacraft 40 and first to finish was Gil Smith’s Joy for All, a Farr 50 sloop that completed the 1500-mile passage in 7 days, 14 hours, and 22 minutes.  Clean Wake Award recipients were Hunter and Devi Sharp. Tempest Trophy winners were Rick Moore and Terri on Sophisticated Lady. The Hal Sutphen Seamanship Award was presented to Dr. Miles and Anne Poor on Karina. The fleet is now savoring the results of their efforts to reach Tortola—cruising all through the islands!

About the rally

The Caribbean 1500 was created in 1990 by Steve Black of Hampton, Virginia, to help sailors get safely to their winter cruising grounds.  Black has sailed in all parts of the Atlantic, including three solo transatlantic races and more than 40 rallies.  He served as executive director of the US Sailing Association before founding the Cruising Rally Association which he has headed for the last 18 years.

This year’s fleet hailed from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the UK, and included 19 veterans and 55 first-time participants in boats ranging from 28 to 62 feet.  Owners could choose to enter either the Cruising Class to enjoy a cruise in company or the rally class to participate in the fun race.

The event gets strong support from leading companies in the sailing industry:  West Marine, Blue Water Sailing, Switlik, Island Packet Yachts, ICOM, Quantum Sail Design, GMT Composites, Reed’s Almanacs, Mount Gay Rum, Gill North America, OCENS, Hydrovane, and Village Cay Hotel & Marina.

A return rally, the Atlantic Cup, is planned for May 3, 2007, and a rally to Bermuda will be held on June 20.  www.carib1500.com

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