SUE PELLING'S DOCKSIDE STORIES DAY 4
02 May, 2008
Sue Pelling's Dockside Stories Day 4
Rookie racer on a roll at Antigua Sailing Week
Jostling on the start line with 185 other boats when you are an experienced racer can be daunting enough but to turn up at Stanford Antigua Sailing Week having never raced before is a brave decision to say the least.
Canadian Frank Baron who owns and helms his own ex bareboat charter yacht – Jeanneau 45.2 Compass Rose – is fortunate however, to have a good core crew to help with racing tactics and advice. He’s also a fairly experienced yachtsman himself and also a sailing instructor teaching for the Canadian Yachting Association.
Chatting about his interesting decision to just turn up to a high-profile regatta Baron commented: “Because I teach everything from basic level to offshore sailing I though that my sailing skills were probably ok so I should try this out just for fun. It is a real challenge because the first thing I had to do was start reviewing the rules. Going out onto the racecourse for the first time with the likes of ICAP Leopard zipping around, was interesting. Fortunately I have a good crew of friends form Canada to keep things together and we are all enjoying the week.
Now his well into racing mode, Baron even started talking about upgrading his sail wardrobe. “We’re a bit slow and don’t have a spinnaker because she’s an old charter yacht, she’s an excellent boat but a bit slow. My first goal was to finish the races and the second was to improve with each race. We did really well on that in race two because we finished the first race, but were last but there were several boats that didn’t finish and in the second race we actually beat a couple of boats which is really exciting and we had an excellent start, third race terrible start and almost hit the committee boat.”
Certainly notching up plenty of experience Baron is already talking about returning next year but only, he says, if his rating is adjusted. “I had the boat measured and rated but now we’ve raced I know the rating is incorrect so I am going to challenge that. If I can get a better rating or change my class back to bareboat rather than Cruising then I will be back.”
Lay day sundowners at Shirley Heights
If you’ve never been to Antigua before, a trip up the hill on the east side of the entrance to English Harbour to watch the sun go down over the sparkling Caribbean Sea is a must.
Yesterday’s lay day provided weary crews with the perfect opportunity to rest and recharge their batteries after three tough days on the water. Then in the evening most teams made their way up to Shirley Heights for the Sundowner party to enjoy a spot of reggae dancing to the local steel band while sampling the delights of English Harbour Rum. Those we spoke at the event agreed that the fun atmosphere at this party was unique and certainly once not be missed. Chatting to Stanford Sailing Week first timer, Rita Faherty said it was a totally unique occasion and she wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Faherty, who’s actually a total non sailor decided at the last minute to fly out to Antigua and join some sailing friends at the regatta and proves that it’s possible, as a non sailor to just turn up and have fun.
As someone who’s never really been involved in sailing before Faherty let us know what she thinks about the crazy world of sailing and full-time partying: “I had no idea what to expect when I came here so to find myself at the first of many parties just three hours after I’d landed and on the same night, to be offered two opportunities to go sailing, I have to say, I was amazed and delighted. I can’t think of any sport when you can just pitch up as a total novice and be totally immersed in the sport from moment you arrive. I did go sailing and although I wouldn’t say I am hooked, I would now seriously think about having another go given the opportunity. Who knows, I might be here as a competitor one day. I will certainly come back next year for the social side if at least.”
Leaking boat forces girls to lose a day’s racing
Penny Bloxham and her all-girl crew aboard the Sunsail Chartered Sun Odessey 45, Beril, had the shock of their lives on Monday when they discovered water in the bilges while racing. Imagine their surprise when, having had the problem checked out by Sunsail, they discovered the next day the boat was totally flooded. They became aware of the situation just 10 minutes before the start and had a mammoth task bailing out.
Bloxham, boat organiser, explained what happened: “We had a leaking boat on the Monday and reported it to Sunsail and it was apparently checked, but then on the Tuesday we had even bigger flood problems. Basically the prop shaft fell off although we didn’t know it at the time. Our manual bilge pump wasn’t working either so five of us had to bail out in relay with a bucket for an hour half. Fortunately Moorings came to our aid and we managed to sail back to English Harbour.”
The girls flew out from the UK with the idea of having a week relaxing and the second week racing here at Stanford Antigua Week. Bloxham continued: “We came here really, really set up to do well this and started off well with a fantastic result on the first day, fourth over the line and finished fifth. We’re all friends and have quite a lot of experience between us. We have three Yachtsmasters and everyone else is Day Skippers.
Apparently, once the crew had bailed out sufficiently they headed back to English Harbour and Sunsail got on the case to sort out the repair. Bloxham continued: “They flew a new prop shaft in from Guadeloupe but ended up buying one from down the road and fitting that instead. Unfortunately we lost the lay day which we had lined-up for practicing. We were back on the water today racing but got stuck in no wind so retired to at least get a decent spot in the marina. As far as compensation is concerned, let’s say I’m working on it.”
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