Yesterday (Wednesday) at Antigua Sailing Week was Lay Day – the last of which I attended in 1995 and saw the “biscuit eating/ wet T Shirt/ drink all you can” contests version… fast forward to 2014 and the Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge which I was invited to participate in. Spoiler alert- we lost- “I have reasons and excuses- you deserve neither”.
I race other boats in other classes than my prefered beach cats because I learn every time I sail- in fact I learn every time I am on the water for any reason, even on a motor boat! The people I race against are not as important as the lessons about my abilities that I get when my mistakes are made clear by competition. That is why I truly thank my competitors for “beating” me- it is how I have evolved to being a “good” sailor and why I welcome racing against “great” sailors such as the ones we lined up against yesterday.
Nonsuch Bay Resort on Antigua’s East side has a varied fleet of boats for their guests to sail and race and the RS Elite is a 3 person keelboat like a miniature Americas Cup sloop- easy to sail yet demanding to sail well.
Four teams to a start for 3 races leaves two winners moving up and two spectating under the VIP tent with great food and drink on Pigeon Beach in Falmouth Harbor (not a severe penalty in my mind). The finals of four teams that all won their heats was more of a story than our loss so that’s what you’ll get! The key here is that the racing takes place alongside a white sand beach within swimming distance and is a dream come true for anyone wanting to learn from some of the worlds best. Nowhere else have I been able to watch each boat and their tactics as easily- and of course the mistakes too.
Winds were fluky as you would expect anytime sailing near a shoreline and the teams that mastered the conditions while handling their boats under the extreme pressure of the announcer calling out both your good moves and mistakes were a delight to watch. Jaime Torres from Puerto Rico and Louay Habib had dueling microphones with great commentary and laughter could be heard across the water while we were racing.
In the end Peter Holmberg did an amazing job of utilizing his talent, experience and pick up crew (no slouches there either) to win the finals with 3 first places in a row! Being within 200′ at all times we could see the actual differences when a team would make a mistake and as always the one that makes the least mistakes wins.
Peter has been beating me around the course for 42 years so I know what to expect but this format and location were exceptional to witness it in- thanks to all who worked to put it on.
We are off to the races for 2 more days and have to work to stay on top of our class in Antigua Sailing Week 2014- more fun to come!
Some links for info..