For the first time in the 18 year history of the Caribbean 1500 Offshore Sailing Rally, satellite transmitters were mounted on each of the 69 participating boats. As a result, a record number of friends and family flooded the event’s web site to track the progress of their favorite vessel. The Caribbean 1500 fleet left Hampton VA on November 4 and arrived in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands 7-14 days later.
Web site visitors watched as The Four C’s, a Jeanneau 43 DS, sailed by Ken Johnson from Mississauga, Ontario and his crew of four, took the top honors as Overall Handicap Winner of the rally.
The 2007 fleet included participants from 20 states, four Canadian provinces, and Bermuda. Approximately half of the boats were manned by veteran ralliers. The boats averaged 46 feet in length. One boat joined the rally in mid ocean after a Charleston, SC departure; another joined in after a Newport RI start. The other 65 sailboats and one trawler gathered in Hampton, VA for the rally.
With Axonn wireless transmitters on each yacht, positions were broadcast via the Globalstar satellite network six times each day, every four hours. Each boat’s track was displayed on the Caribbean 1500 website using software customized by Magnalox that incorporates features from Google Earth.
The weather conditions divided the fleet into three segments. The faster boats were unable to find wind and motored a substantial portion of the distance. The middle of the fleet was treated to a 10-15 knot beam reach for much of the passage and was, for the most part, able to maneuver around scattered squall lines. The slower boats suffered with extensive convective squalls east of the Gulf Stream, reporting high winds and even hail.
All ralliers received a warm welcome at Village Cay Marina in Road Town, Tortola, BVI, where Mount Gay Rum and Raffles Tortola hosted nightly parties for the sailors.
The fleet was divided into two divisions. Owners chose to enter the Cruising Class to enjoy a cruise in company or the rally class to participate in the fun race. Those in the Cruising Class receive the same safety, weather and communication benefits as the rally class. The 30 boats in the cruising class received awards that recognized their achievement of safely completing an open ocean passage of 1500 miles.
In addition to The Four C’s leadership of Class 5, four other Class winners were announced at the Village Cay Awards Ceremony. Topping class 1 was Harry Weber’s Beneteau 47.7 Crescendo. Class 2 was won by Phil Gillihan’s Corsair 3600 Cat Parallax. Lee Demarest topped class 3 with his Tayana 52, Allegro. Class 4 winner was Larry Terhaar aboard his Tayana 48 Legato. Topping the IRC racers was Marin Erskine on Cayenne, a J/42.
Several special awards were presented at the ceremony. Taking line honors for the fastest completion time was Gill Smith’s Joy for All, Glastonbury, CT. The Farr 50 sloop completed the 1500-mile passage in 7 days 11 hours 42 minutes.
Best performance by a double-handed crew went to Tom Robinson and Bill Biewenga on Hammer, a Gunboat 48, one of the four catamarans in the fleet. Four other couples completed the rally with just two on board.
Al and Linda McOrmond on Cambio, a Cheoy Lee 41, received the Tempest Trophy, representing the spirit of the event. Larry and Mary Ivins, aboard Berkeley East, a Hylas 54, received the Fishing Trophy.
A return rally, the Atlantic Cup, is planned for May 1, 2008. The Cruising Rally Association, founded by veteran solo sailor and sailing event organizer Steve Black, is widely supported by a number of leading companies in the sailing and tourism industry. For full information on these companies, future rallies, and seminars, visit www.carib1500.com.
Report courtesy of the Cruising Rally Association