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Thursday, May 09, 2013

May 8, 2013-Antigua Sailing Week

jason pickering imageWings Flying.

Antigua Sailing Week is over. We had some good sailing, our crew was wonderful, but a couple of disasters occurred which put us last in our class, plus my sister was here and, while ashore, got hurt.

piano image
Marco and Andrew look at Damaged Sails.

Last in class? How did that happen? First of all our sails self-destructed. These kevlar sails, which worked so well for us in Thailand, and have hardly been used since we won King’s Cup with them, started coming apart on seams. We’d be sailing along and, without warning, the sails simply spit apart. The jib broke at the top and the main broke twice, once at the top and once in the lower middle. This is obviously a defect in the sail construction. The seams where they split are glued seams, not sewed. Well, they are sewed now. We did one repair on the boat and on the day off we took them to North Sails and had all the seams sewed with big reinforcement patches. After that they held, but the damage to our race score was already done.

We also tore the #4, our Dacron working jib and that is serious because it means the cloth is getting old. We may need to replace this sail soon.

The other problem is that we were slow. Even when the sails held together we could hardly get out of our own way. I accept responsibility for this. Gambling on the weather I had the boat rated for non-overlapping sails. So, for the whole regatta, we couldn’t use the genoa. But the wind went light and with just the #3 jib we were desperately short on power. This affected our starts and the beats. Downwind we were fast. Of course on the days when the wind blew we were fast enough all the way around the course, but then we had the sail problems.

So we finished the races in the bottom third, and with the retirements, ended up in last place.

Analyzing the results data I found that if we’d have had only 1/3 of a knot of more speed we’d have been very competitive. The genoa would have delivered that so going without it was a major mistake. Of course if the wind had come in as forecast, 13-18 knots, we’d have been fine and would have enjoyed a very low rating. You make the call and take the chances. This time I lost.

It does leave me feeling like I have unfinished business. I’d really like another shot at this regatta but that is probably not in the cards. This time next year we’ll be in Cartagena, Columbia and are not likely to make the trek back here to Antigua. Oh well, maybe there will be other races in other places.

Not to make this report even bleaker, there were personnel injuries. Not among the racing crew, but among the shore crew. My sister Jan and her husband Howard were here for a holiday and to act as shore crew for us. On the night before the regatta Jan fell while dancing at one of the parties and shattered her shoulder. She has been undergoing medical treatment here in Antigua and trying, unsuccessfully, to get earlier flights home to get it looked at by her doctor in California. This was really a disaster for Jan and Howard and basically ruined Sailing Week for them. We are very sympathetic but there was nothing we could do, but being there for her as much as we could, and going through it with her and Howard, brought us closer together.

And Sue, from the yacht Piano, who took over line handling ashore for us, as well as making our lunches every day, fell boarding her dingy and sprained, or broke, her wrist, so she too became one of the walking wounded.

Were there any good parts?

Superb Crew, never got discouraged!.

Yes, by all means. Our crew crew was superb. The whole week they remained positive and performed brilliantly. Whatever I, as captain, asked for, they delivered. And we had fun every day, even the days when we broke down. And there was some great sailing with blue waters, sunny skies, and pleasant, if light, winds (dang!). Though I didn’t get enough of it, I had some real duels with other boats on some occasions, and that was great.

The camaraderie of our group, including Jan and Howard and Sue, was terrific. So our 2013 Antigua Sailing Week crew have joined the Wings’ family and will remain always in our hearts.

wingssail image-ruth ross thomson
Great Sailing, at times.

All in all, Sailing Week was a mixed success for us; one which, for various reasons I guess, we will all remember.

Click here for more photos from Antigua Sailing Week.

Click here for photos of the whole crew.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Antigua

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Blogger Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

The older a boat owner gets, the more he finds himself poised on a dilemma involving the size of his boat. He wants to have a small enough boat that he is physically enabled to go sailing spontaneously, on the spur of the moment, without the crew hassle. At the same time there are few experiences of human connectedness that compare to being part of a team on a well-crewed boat. Regrettably, that seems to require races. Nothing wrong with races as long as they are frequent. Right?

15 May, 2013 07:36  

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