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Editors Log – Crossing Oceans and The Rise of Match Racing

By the time we go to press nearly seven weeks will have passed since the start of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) and all the excitement and drama of this famous event will be over, or at least we hope it is. It would be wonderful to interview all the skippers and crews and see if an ocean crossing lived up to their expectations. Was the voyage a dream fulfilled? Was it a disappointment? Was it a nightmare?

Of course, there were more people crossing the Atlantic other than those taking part in the ARC, and I would ask the same question of them.

Moving away from humor for this edition, Captain Fatty Goodlander takes a serious look at ocean rallies. Fatty was in Las Palmas for the start of the ARC and his report is a must read for anyone who took part in the rally or is thinking of doing so in the future.

In his article, Cap’n Fatty discusses the lone wolf’s quest for adventure against the needs of those sailors who find security in a group. It’s an age-old question that goes far beyond the cruising rallies.

I well remember my time as a delivery skipper and one particular job when I was contracted to bring a 32ft wing-keeled cruise-racer from Georgetown, in the Bahamas, to St. Maarten. The timing couldn’t have been worse as Hurricane Lenny was churning west to east through the northern Caribbean.

My crew and I arrived in Georgetown and immediately fell in with the cruising community who were waiting for a weather-window to head south. Some of them had been there for four months. As a delivery skipper, they looked on me as some kind of guru and were shocked, after we had been there for just 36 hours, when I told them we were leaving in the morning. Our announced departure caused uproar, with people claiming we were sailing to our deaths and others arguing that they should leave with us. One man even said that to save us he would call the coast guard and have us arrested.

I had studied the weather carefully and knew of a downwind bolt-hole should hurricane Lenny re-curve through 180 degrees, which I thought unlikely. It was an informed decision.

Come the morning, we hauled anchor. People manned their cockpits to watch us go. One woman even shouted “are you really going?”

Five days later we delivered the boat to St. Maarten.

Perhaps the others are still in Georgetown.

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It’s been described as ‘sailing with attitude’, ‘a contact sport’; ‘a war of attrition’. I am talking about match racing; a sport that is on the rise worldwide and nowhere more so than here in the Caribbean.

That match racing is becoming increasingly popular is no surprise as it means less arguing over ratings, arguments that have been know to spill out of the protest room and continue, kicking and gouging, on the barroom floor. That said, I have already heard some match race competitors muttering about how all the boats should be equal yet some are more equal than others, but that’s sailors for you.  One thing I know is that more regattas are adding match racing to their events (see regatta preview on page ??) and the rise of match racing can only improve the sport and hone sailing and racing skills especially amongst the young who demand instant action in this ‘here and now’ world.

To comment on this Log or anything you read in All At Sea, please email: editor@allatsea.net

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