written by Mate-In-Training, Andrew Dyer
July 5, 2017
Race day dawned bright and early, with competitive excitement in the air. We woke with eagerness for the day to come! Quickly getting through the morning duties, we began pre-departure checks. The race course was between Long Bay where we held the Olympics and our beach BBQ the day before and Monkey Point, an estimated hour long sail. The course was such that we would be going upwind for most of the time, with only a short distance of down wind sailing. Our vessel Miss You was the only catamaran in the race thus holding a slight disadvantage against the two other monohulls since they do remarkably better sailing upwind than cats do. But among the Tango boat, there was no feeling of trepidation, only excitement and the determination to win.
Hauling up anchor, we headed out of the bay towards the starting line. Setting our sails, we tacked up and down in front of the starting line, poising ourselves like sprinters waiting to hear the crack of the starting gun. It came soon enough, and we were off and away.
With Montlouis already quite a distance off our port bow, we set our sites on our first challenger. Through the ingenuity of our crew and our exceptional teamwork, we took advantage of the short downwind stretch and were able to pass Montlouis.
Our next challenger was GP3, who, after suffering a late start due to difficulties in raising the main, found her pace and soon sped past Montlious and was fast approaching our stern. Now on the last stretch, it was all upwind sailing, not a catamarans strongest position. But we were able to hold out distance between us and GP3. Until, right out side the finish line, just as we were executing our final tack of the race, our jib sheet jammed. All the sudden, we were stopped dead, GP3 was on us, and would have passed us in minutes if it wasn’t for the clear thinking of our captain, who, with the nimbleness of a cat took the pressure off the jammed jib sheet, untangled it, reattached it, switched the working sheet to the correct side and we were back on course, still ahead of GP3 and Montlious.
Dropping sail a short time later, the crew prepared for a mooring ball pick up, our final task to end the race. Coming into the bay with our sites set on the perfect ball, we approached confidently. But we found ourselves battling with an element we had not calculated for. As we were about to hook the ball, a strong gust of wind blew our bow away like a match stick in a pound, and we found ourselves with the only option but to bail. Now having learned our lesson, we were poised ourselves ready to deal with the strong and unpredictable wind. We approached a second ball wary of the elements, and we smoothly hooked, threaded and secured the ball. With the secondary tied, we found ourselves the clear first place champions (!), with GP3 a hot second and Montlouis a lazy third. We sat back congratulating ourselves on a race cleanly won. With several hours to relax, we jumped in the water and cooled off after the excitement of the morning. But the day was far from over, there was one more exciting challenge to face, Chili Cook Off!
For the Chili Cook Off, we needed to prepare two things, first a fantastic chili and second a strong theme that would captivate the judges. Putting their heads together, the crew came up with an igneous idea; each person would represent a Greek god, and each god, according to their powers, would add a different element to the chili, such as; the god of machinery and industry provided the pot to cook the chili in, the god of agriculture added the vegetables, and Zeus, with his lightning, cooked all the ingredients together. We divided the duties between preparing the boat and cooking the chili. Everyone, including staff, dawned outfits appropriate to their god. As the hands on the clock approached six, the excitement level reverberated through the boat. As the judges left GP3, we saw them approaching our boat. Taking a deep breath, we assumed our characters and prepared to put on the best show we could.
The whole presentation went without a hitch. We played our characters flawlessly and captivated the judges with both our theme and the tastiest chili, doubtless, they ever tasted.
As the judges left for Montlouis, we finally dug into our delicious chili, happy and satisfied that our hard work had paid off.
With the last full day of this adventure reseeding with the setting sun, we settled down for a Sail Caribbean tradition, letters to self. These are letters the students get to write to themselves at the end of program, and have them sent to themselves six months later. Besides being a moment to contemplate the incredible experience they just had, it’s also an opportunity to cherish the memories they made, and appreciate things of the past, not just the things of the present or future. I doubt a single one of us fell asleep that night without a slight smile on our faces while also carrying a burgeoning sadness for the goodbyes soon to be made.
Please enjoy photos of our July Fourth celebration!
The greatest challenge during the program was staying entertained during the quarantine period. Not being able to leave your boat and not having a phone, which was a crutch against boredom, it was difficult at first to stay entertained.