August 1-5, 2002
The Carriacou Regatta!
Our timing for Carriacou was just right
to attend the Carriacou Regatta and Carnival. Never having
been to a sailing race, I was excited to see what this was
all about. And I'm not certain where the kidding about entering
actually turned into really entering, but low and behold Force
Five became a legitimate participant.
In this particular regatta, there are three
days of races- with three different classes racing simultaneously.
The racing class, the "fun class" for people like
us that live on their boats and just want to have a good time,
and finally, a class for multi-hulls (catamarans and trimarans).
The first race day entailed the "'Round the Island, Two-Handed
Race" and it was meant to encourage cruisers like us
to participate. Being a newbie to this whole sailing thing
in the first place, I bowed out and John from True Blue signed-up
to race Force Five with Curt. Then, on the second day- Curt
and I were going to crew on True Blue, and on the third and
final day, we were a last minute addition to the crew on Avillion
III (the standing crew had been the owners, Wilf and Teresena,
and George from the Vagrant).
The Regatta was kicked off with a Skipper's
Meeting appropriately timed during happy hour the day before
the first race. I was surprised to see so many familiar faces
from around the anchorage! There were couples, families, boats
teaming up together, and even one single-hander, Ray, with
a blow-up doll as his first mate! The sign-up sheets collected
enough information about each boat to develop a handicapping
system for each vessel (it's worth noting that without getting
too into it, there seems to be some controversy around the
methodology the race committee uses). After being briefed
on the rules and courses, etc., everyone headed over to the
Turtle Dove Pizzeria to review their charts and develop their
The excitement around Tyrrel Bay that morning
was surprising. The serious racers were out early practicing
their tacks, but the fun class had many more boats. From aboard
True Blue, where I spent the morning with Al while Curt and
John raced, it was pretty entertaining to see boats in the
Fun Class sail by with a race number on their bow right next
to their surfboards and cans of extra fuel, etc. The guys
came back telling us they had a great day at sea, and felt
they'd done well. Force Five came in in the middle of the
pack- actually quite well considering she's a smaller boat.
That evening, the standings were posted at the pizzeria where
free rum punches were being served to the crew. With her handicap
she came in fifth or sixth I believe (perhaps I had too many
rum punches to recall?)
The next day, Curt and I joined Allison
and John aboard True Blue- my first time aboard in a real
race! The start was quite exciting as boats vied for the first
position over the start-line. It was a little peculiar sailing
another boat- afterall, I've really only sailed on Force Five.
I vacillated between wanting to get in there and work, and
stay out of the way and not get things fumbled up. We fell
to the back of the pack fairly early- but still weren't sure
how much our handicap might help. Eventually we realized with
such light wind, we might as well put a fishing line out and
find another way to enjoy the day. In the end, True Blue was
last over the line, and her handicap didn't change our placing-
but we all had a great time.
Sunday was a day off for the sailing regatta,
but both the carnival and workboat races were in full swing
over in Hillsborough, and so we hiked over on foot. It was
a beautiful morning, and we were happy to find a whole gaggle
of our new yachtie friends as we meandered through the festivities.
DJs were blaring music so loud you couldn't hear yourself
think, bars were teeming with revelers, and both the beach
and harbor were packed to the gills with the meaty looking
workboats that the locals were racing on this side of the
island. This was where we ran across our friend Wilf from
Avillion and he asked if John and Curt might be interested
in cranking on some winches for him on the last and final
day of the regatta. Avillion had come in second and third
the previous two days of racing, and Wilf thought a couple
of extra hands might get him first place on the last day.
Of course, they were excited to accept the invitation and
we called it an early night to be well rested for the next
George, Wilf, and Teresena were already
aboard and ready to go on Avillion the next morning by the
time the four of us arrived. Wilf gave John and Curt a run-down
of the lay-out of the boat, including the "gorllia pit"
where they'd be cranking winches. Avillion was originally
a Fast Net Race Boat and actually has two cockpits: one aft
that you steer from, and another in the center of the boat
that gives the "gorillas" their own space to trim
sails. And we were off to sail over to the start-line in Hillsborough.
What a different experience! Wilf really wanted to win, and
Avillion was a boat that really could do it! We had a good
start, though I think we were less than a foot or two from
hitting the committee boat as we past the start! We were in
the front the whole time, and as the race wore on, we only
pulled ahead further. The guys were pumped, and did a great
job working the sails- but a few times they got a little too
excited and Al and I had to step in to save their butts when
they hadn't noticed that they'd flubbed something up! By the
end of the day we were first over the line! It was great!
Avillion's handicap would finally place her in second- but
we could at least feel "first" in our own minds.
And Wilf was really excited regardless!
That night, the Carriacou Yacht Club
had a nice barbecue and gave away some free shwag to the participants.
It was a fun few days, and went a long way toward building
some camaraderie in the anchorage. If given the opportunity,
I'm sure we'll race again!