After a seven year gap, the first non-stop Around St Lucia Race took place at the end of August. Fair weather but not a breath of wind did not bode well for the start of the 70 mile race. And, by the time the gun went off at 07:00, the six competitors were left wondering if they could make the circumnavigation within the time limit of 15 hours.
Having inched slowly across the start line off the St Lucia Yacht Club in Rodney Bay, the yachts headed towards Pigeon Island. First over the line was the J24 Attitude, followed by the Frers 39 Cider with Rosie. Both yachts hoisted spinnakers as they came onto a reach but struggled to fill them in the light conditions. After 20 minutes moving at less than a knot, Cider with Rosie caught a breeze and picked up speed. However, Attitude, closer to Pigeon Point, was slower to benefit from the heavier air. Geronimo, a 2-tonner, skippered by Bruno Bruchhof, sailing with his partner and a scratch crew of seven, was the next to benefit from the breeze off Pigeon Island.
As the fleet hardened up for the beat towards the northern tip of St Lucia, Cider with Rosie held the lead. She was followed by Attitude, the Sovereign 40 Kaiso, and Geronimo. The Morgan 50, Breeze Away, and the Beneteau 50 Sprit of the Wind trailed behind the pack. Cider with Rosie was first to tack into the North Cap while trying to keep out of the current. By now the wind was blowing around 10 knots from the east-north-east, which benefitted the lighter boats with their Kevlar sails.
After five or six tacks to clear the northern point, the boats made it around the coast to the island's windward side but remained close hauled. With the wind staying light, most of the fleet had to tack to clear Cape Marquis.
Approaching the town of Dennery, one third of the way down St. Lucia's east coast, Breeze Away and Spirit of the Wind decided to retire, followed shortly after by Kaiso. With boat speeds averaging only three knots, crews realized they would not arrive back in Rodney Bay until the early hours.
Rumor has it that the retired boats were generally the heavier designs – a situation said to have been made worse by the amount of beer and food onboard.
Still battling light winds, in the closing stages as it got dark, a serious match race developed between Cider with Rosie and Geronimo, line-honors going to Geronimo, with Attitude winning on corrected time, leaving Cider with a double 2nd.
Considering the very light conditions, the fact that half the fleet managed to sail the whole course was cause for celebration. This was suitably reflected in the festivities at the prize giving ceremony held the following day at the St. Lucia Yacht Club. During the ceremony, which included a buffet and free Cavalier Rum sampling, the skipper of Geronimo, the fastest boat around the island, received 'an average skipper's weight' in rum' (80 bottles). Overall winner Attitude, received a free haul-out, scrub, and three day storage ashore.
Report submitted by Sean Fuller. www.stluciayachtclub.com