Sailing with Charlie: Regatta

Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

Regatta – what a wonderful word. It sounds like an Italian dessert or perhaps a pasta dish. Actually, it does have its origins in Italy and it meant ‘contention for mastery’. From gondola racing in Venice it now applies to yacht racing around the world.

It’s March and the regatta season is in full swing in the Caribbean. It’s time to clean your bottom, lubricate your gear, get your glad rags on and be ready for FUN! If you think you have a quick boat now is the time to prove it; Caribbean regattas will have a class for your boat.

There are many designs and types of boats and many sailors with different ideas of how sailing should be enjoyed. There are the classics and their replicas; charter yachts – both cats and mono-hulls; racing machines, cruising boats, beach cats and more. Of course, you may say you’re not interested in racing, but when you’re out there happily sailing along and another boat tacks next to you it’s like a primeval instinct kicks in … and you start adjusting this and tweaking that and trimming those because that yoyo isn’t going to beat YOU!

Charlie is more of a cruising sailor. His idea of sailing is to have a fun and comfortable ride and to enjoy the many destinations along the way – it’s more of a lifestyle for him rather than an ego boost or testosterone injection. But Charlie would be the last person to say that yacht racing is not an exhilarating blast unbeatable in the world of sport, because it is. Charlie took part in the last BVI Spring Regatta (hot racing, warm water, cool parties) as skipper in a bareboat class and he loved it. By the last race they had the all-important nail biting start down to a fine art and crossed the line first, but the first tack doomed them to a poor finish when an ‘*^#+hole’ in the working sheet took minutes to clear. The dedicated tactician called the wind shifts and countercurrents along the shore correctly but that one mistake cost them dearly and they missed a podium finish by one place. Charlie learned quite a bit of new vocabulary from the event – the above mentioned *^#+hole is a kink in the sheet that prevents it from passing through the fairlead block when tacking. A podium finish means that you are admired by envious onlookers at the awards party. A dick head is different to the deck head (cabin ceiling) – it means that when tacking you have not scampered across the boat quickly enough to take your place as rail meat on the new windward side. Bow candy must have originated in the U.S. (Brits would say sweetie) – the term means a sizzling hot babe, usually wearing a Brazilian bikini, who is given a foredeck job requiring a certain amount of bending over. She becomes the darling of the crew and the envy of your competitors.

The parties are spectacular with tents offering cold beers, tropical cocktails and all kinds of delicious local dishes. Bands whip up the crowd to dancing frenzy while fashion shows, specialty artists like jugglers, clowns, mocko jumbies and fire dancers entertain the crowd. This is the time to spike your competitors’ drinks with that high octane 151 proof rum that just might give you that much needed edge during the morrow’s racing, and see you being photographed on the podium at the next awards ceremony.

 

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