Most hurricane seasons bring a mass exodus of boats south to Grenada, Trinidad and the Coast of Venezuela. Unfortunately, in 2004, with hundreds of boats taking safe haven in Grenada, Hurricane Ivan took dead aim on the island and pretty much destroyed everything.
Mike Hirst, a Marine Surveyor from Tortola was asked to get down to Grenada to assess the damage and after spending two hard weeks helping clients get their affairs in order worked with a salvage company to bring Manta, a 34’ Trimaran, back to Tortola.
Manta, a Rodger Hatfield designed 34’ by 26’ tortured plywood Tri was built on Saba in the mid 80s. Now, she had structural damage throughout, lost her rig and pretty much was a write off.
With BVI Spring Regatta as a deadline Mike and his wife Sayula worked most weekends rebuilding Manta at Tortola Yacht Services yard. Mike designed her rig, which was built by Nautool Marine, and sails were designed by Doug Stewart from Quantum. A second hand mast from a C+C 37 was installed, with refinishing from the boys at Caribbean Refinishing. Wickhams Cay II Rigging contributed their expertise in rebuilding the standing rigging. With sea trials taking place Thursday afternoon before the Regatta, Manta was reborn.
Friday morning of the regatta brought heat and little wind, with a course that took us around Norman Island in 6 to 8 knots of wind. It felt like we were completely out of phase on the whole beat. The one thing we learned with this Tri is not to tack unless you have to, especially in light air. Our first race left us in 4 th behind a Formula 40 cat and two custom Tris, with competition coming from local favorite Triple Jack and Piglet from St Croix.
Day 2 brought more wind and two short courses. The first race we had a short beat which we two tacked while our competition four tacked, jibe set at the top and then had a tight port reach to the bottom mark. On the way back up, we caught a great right shift and won the race going away. Race 2 of the Day was pretty much the same……we sailed smart and fast and only tacked when we had to.
Day 3 brought 12 knots and more sunshine and with a course around Dead Chest and Peter it was more of the same…. limit the tacks and sail fast angles downwind. As we did not have instruments, we did not know how fast we were actually going but when you are sailing alongside of a 70 footer and keeping pace with it you begin to understand the draw to Trimaran sailing!
Manta went on to win a podium finish in the regatta.