By Hugh Pringle
For pictures, please check these pages:
First Leg: http://www.grenadateamsailing.com/first-race/
Second Leg: http://www.grenadateamsailing.com/2nd-leg-pcyc-round-grenada-regatta/
Racing around any island is an adventure, racing west around Grenada from Petit Calivigny, with an overnight stopover at Tyrell Bay, Carriacou is a big adventure! This was even more so as we were racing on a yacht which was racing for the first time. RF33, as she then was. Her naming ceremony took place 2 days after the race and she is now La Diablesse.
Rene Froelich had created and built her, with some practical, material and financial help. He was the one who turned a dream into a real racing yacht. We, the crew, were very keen to find out her capabilities, to see if we could sail her anywhere near her potential, and do our best to win!
On Friday 19th August all the crews met for a welcome and briefing at Phare Bleu, we checked out the other competitors, read the instructions, looked at the weather forecast-light airs for the weekend- and thanked our sponsors and the shore team. The support package put together by the PCYC shore team, ably led by Daniela Froelich, offered us great prizes for racing success and shore side food and entertainment in Carriacou and back at Phare Bleu after the finish.
Saturday was an early start in light to moderate winds from a start line off the Phare Bleu lightship, ably supervised by James Benoit the Race Officer. A clear start for all competitors was followed by a fetch to the first turning mark. RF 33 rounded it 3rd and set off downwind towards Point Saline using the big jib as an asymmetric sail for best speed. The two J24s were first to reach the point and we all turned north west to pass Grand Anse and St Georges. Gradually the wind lightened and the racing became a lottery as one boat would find a catspaw of breeze and then lose it as another found found the breeze. All the competitors closed up, as we sailed slowly along the west coast. The breeze never died completely for long so we worked our way quietly and slowly past Gouave in close company.
We could see more cloud and we guessed more wind over the north west of Grenada. We were refreshed by some rain showers and wind which rose and fell quickly as we sailed towards thenorth–west corner. Frequent jib changes made for hard work for the foredeck team, who went as far as to suggest that the afterguard should make less demands! By now the J24s had worked their way inshore of us, to their advantage, which they did not give up for the rest of that days racing.
Leaving Grenada behind we beat against wind and current to the north and gradually Carriacou took shape and Tyrell Bay became clearer. We learnt what wind speeds suited RF 33 best with the sails we had and how to distribute our crew of seven to make best use of their weight. The sun was dropping as we crossed the finish line kindly provided by the Carriacou team from the marina.
Our mother ship and weekend support vessel, owned and crewed by Leonardo and Linda were already at anchor as we came along side and gratefully accepted cold drinks and showers. A clean and refreshed crew then enjoyed Carriacou hospitality until the tiredness of a long days sailing sent them back to boat accommodation for the night.
Sunday morning and a later start at 10.00 for the second days racing south to Grenada and east-about to Petit Calivigny. The reaching start off Tyrell bay was closely contested but we managed to get ahead under full main and big jib at an angle that gave us consistently the best speed we had enjoyed since the early morning start at Phare Bleu. We slowed under the land south east of Tyrell Bay and looked back anxiously until the boats following us did the same. Then we were clear again and picked up speed again on course for Levera and north east Grenada.
We watched as our competitors slowly receded behind us, what fun! We saw them climbing to windward in the hope that they would be able to hoist their spinnakers sooner than us, but we were sailing directly towards our finish. The wind started to ease as we reached Grenada, but it kept blowing enough to keep up our speed enough to stay ahead of the opposition. Then spinnakers appeared to windward and behind us and started to grow as the yachts travelled faster than us. At last the wind went astern enough of us so we in turn could hoist our spinnaker and accelerate a little. We sailed past the familiar headlands and bays of the east and south-east coasts until finally Petit Calivigny and Phare Bleu came in view. Our competitors were still well astern as we crossed the finish to take line honours with Rene at the helm.
Our second day’s success gave us third overall, pretty good for the first racing event on a new yacht and of course a new crew. So here’s to the next race and more success!