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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 game plans.

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 morning.

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!

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