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Final Day 2014 BVI Spring Regatta – All I can do is Smile

On Apr 7, 2014 6:22 AM, “John Holmberg” wrote:

“Well Sah!!” (as they say here in the NE Caribbean) “da was a piece a wok!” The 2014 BVI Spring Regatta ends with a slight softening of the strong frontal breeze- too late for most bruised bodies and egos- and leaving tons of stories in it’s wake.

3 days of strong breeze from the East had the channel between Tortola and Peter Island whipped into endless fields of whitecaps.. a few charter boats with sails pulled part of the way up and motor sailing from one hidey hole to the next- no sailing for the fun of it while your drinks are tipping over and the kids are spilling across the cockpit floor.

The only boats truly sailing are rail down and busting spray at the bow as they thrash to windward and then with a silent prayer- hoist a colorful and threatening spinnaker. Fingers crossed and hoping the photo boats are too busy documenting someone else’s struggle to notice yours.

No such luck for us as in the midst of one our wipe-outs the flogging of the sails gets drowned out by the helicopter hovering overhead with cameras hanging out- they looking to capture the “action” we would like to forget.

How far over you ask? Well, Kai is on the bow for a massive one and holding on for the ride – not scared as there is nothing he can do and the water is warm – he just watches and waits as we try to regain control of the wildly flogging animal our pretty little race boat has become.

How far over? As the boat heels it becomes less buoyant and the rail gets pushed under – Kai floats up from the lower life line where he is stoically waiting – floats up to the upper life line like riding an elevator!

How far over? We realize after the race that saildrive with the water inlet has lost it’s prime because it was out of the water for so long (the saildrive is  like an outboards lower unit sticking out the bottom near the keel). I hope the helicopter photogs missed that detail or at least we get some sort of award for it.

It seems like minutes but is only 15 seconds of clutching on to anything so as to keep our weight on the high side and we regain our steering and re-sheet the kite to go surfing off towards the buoy that signals time to drop the scary beast and bash our way against the wind again.

This a part of racing that pushes the limits and we partly enjoy at the same time as we hate it – a weird mix that is probably a great metaphor for the character building that is “life”.

Our Mumm 36 is a modified light air racer with years of tuning by her owner and we have worked very hard to sail her in overpowering conditions – no excuses – we were out-sailed this weekend by better boats and crews – some sailing so well as to embarrass us and some so poorly as to make us smile. Tons of stories to swap on the docks and under the beer tents – complete with bruises that looked like one legged tans- and that line that is ever true, “some drink to remember and some drink to forget!”

Kai and I grab a shower and one last curry chicken plate from the Roti Palace booth and then hail a taxi to the West End for our ferry ride home. I relate that when I was his age we used to pile into the boats for an informal and lazy sail back to St. Thomas because we did not care what time we got back – those sunsets while the kids were driving were permanently etched into our brains. School was less important and schedules were for people in the States – not us.

The ferry ride has barely started and we are talking about the next regatta we will attend, Antigua Sailing Week. His first one and my first in almost 20 years. He has heard my stories about the sailing and the parties and wants to bring some of his buddies to crew. School is not too much of a concern as it is Carnival break in St. Thomas and only costs a couple of days for the whole week of sailing.

How lucky am I? My son and I sailing in the races my father and I sailed… subconscious dreams coming to life… and smile of gratitude creases my face… and Kai sees it and says “What?”

All I can do is smile.

John Holmberg
[email protected]

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