By Michael O’Connell – International Yachting Correspondent
Grenada Day 2 Friday 31 Jan 2014
Up at 05-30 with the cock crowing. The faint glimmer of light, almost ghostly, outlining the hillside across from the marina. Today we have to be on the boat by 8.30 am, ready to cast off for the 9.30 am start of the racing sequence. Kettle is on for coffee and one of the guys has brought porridge with him from the UK.
8 am and I head out. Its 5 minutes’ walk to the boat but I don’t want to be late, just as well as most of the crew are already on board. As we head out and clear the entrance, we can see the Committee Boat, a catamaran in this case, is already on station to start the race.
An area usually with a few boats lying to anchor, has become a melee of boats of all shapes and sizes, all looking to the weather, deciding which head sail to use. How strong will the wind be today, how much will it increase, or decrease? It’s anybody’s guess.
Radio checks, time checks, order of starting classes, courses to sail etc. etc. the radio is a non-stop source of updated information.
BANG, that’s the 5 minute gun and the beginning if our start sequence. Then 4 minute gun goes, next 1 minute gun. The boats speed up and go for the start line, jostling for position who can get there on time, who has right of way and nobody gives an inch.
Suddenly we reach the line and BANG. The start gun! We are in exactly the right place, 1st across the line! At last the week’s racing has begun. All that hard work by the organisers has paid off.
After two hours of beating, running and reaching around the course, we get to the finish line 1st. Line honours on the 1st race on the first day, puts everyone on a high.
Now we have to wait for all of the other boats to finish before the 2nd race of the day. Time for a quick sandwich and a cool drink. The Caribbean sun beats relentlessly down requiring more tanning lotion especially on the knees and tops of ears. Hats and sun glasses are a must as is lip seal to prevent burning and cracking.
Race 2 is about to start, a different course is given out over the radio and several calls back from boats to clarify which one they are to take. Racing class boats have longer course than cruising boats and classic boats are shorter again.
Another two hours of tacking, gybing, sail changes and wind shifts. Tactical judgements about the course, how much tide, wind bends around headlands and valleys. Another 1st across the line and we are dancing.
Spirits are high as we leave the boat that evening. It’s not every day you get to win 2 out of 2 on the 1st day. We are greeted by 2 ladies from the race committee with cold beers for each of the crew.
That evening we all meet at the bar, much refreshed after showers and clean clothes. Dinner first followed by the mandatory regatta party lasting much too long. We need to be fresh tomorrow to do it all over.