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World Sailor – Bill Biewenga Masters the Caribbean 1500

West Marine’s Caribbean
1500 normally attracts sailing couples that want the
opportunity to visit the islands during the winter season, and get to know
other sailing couples. However, this year one of the world’s most
resourceful sailors, Bill Biewenga, decided to crew
for his good friend Tom Robinson on Sunshine. Working with Phil Steggall on Sebago,
an Adrian Thompson ultralight 60′ trimaran-foiler, as assistant and tactical advisor provided Bill
with cutting edge multi-hull experience.

Bill’s sailing career began
in the 70s and in 1985 he sailed Thursday’s
Child
single-handed from Plymouth, England to Newport, RI, prior to the
1986-’87 BOC Challenge. He raced on Drum
in the 1985-’86 Whitbread Round the World Race, one of four around the
world races in which he participated. He was a co-skipper of the trimaran,
Great American II
in 1993 setting the
record from San Francisco to Boston
and later from New York to
Melbourne, Australia
in 2001; both trips are in the Guinness
Book of Records
. He was the navigator on Magnitude in the 1999 Transpac Race,
setting a new daily speed record of 353 NM during the race. In 2000, Bill took
part as co-navigator and weather router on Zephyrus
IV
again setting new records. Additionally, during the spring of 2000, Bill
was alternately navigator or watch captain aboard the new Swan 56,
Lolita II
. In the 2002 Pac Cup, he
finished 2nd in Class on Azul and has made
numerous deliveries in the Mediterranean, South Atlantic,
and Pacific.

He now uses his extensive
background in his work as a photojournalist and weather routing consultant to
convey knowledge learned along the way, teaching weather information and
is a regular contributor to Bluewater Sailing,
Sail Magazine, Ocean Navigator and Cruising
World
.

I met up
with Bill at Village Cay Marina after the 2005 West Marine Caribbean 1500.
Asking him what he thought of this cruising rally, he replied with a big smile
on his face.“This is
as good an event as you find anywhere. Having gone through 4 around the world
races and through numerous international regattas, I can verify that the 1500
is as good as it gets.”

“I
now concentrate on weather information and am looking at a way to create
on-line seminars and give seminars at sea. So there are a few things that I
have in my mind for the future. I started Weather Window, one of the first
weather routing companies in the world, targeting recreational sailing, which
was very successful. I later helped Commanders’ Weather during their
launch. Weather routing helps sailors by making sailing more competitive and
safer and also for those left behind, family and friends who are concerned – a
more intelligent, thoughtful, safer and planned way of doing things. I have been
fortunate to be involved in some of the cutting edge stuff that is going on
now.”

“While being a competitive racer in my 20s and 30s in all weather
conditions I thought, ‘there has to be a smarter way of doing this’
and so I started talking to some pretty bright people about weather. Well, they
understood the solution but they didn’t understand the problem – whereas
I understood the problem because I was the one getting wet all of the time. By
putting our talents together we could help not only each other, but also all of
the other sailors out there getting drenched. The key is to share the
information that you have with others – sharing is what it is all
about.”

In 2006,
Bill will be doing some international deliveries, a series of seminars and then
will return to race the Heineken Regatta and Antigua Race Week. He seems to
love racing in the Caribbean and from what I
saw – our sailors enjoy having him here to participate.

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