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Bill’s Blog Antigua Sailing Week day 2

Antigua Week sailing crew

Blain’s Blog – Antigua Sailing Week

Day 1 – Sunday 26th April – Bill Blain gives us the lowdown from EHO1

Whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad!
After our brilliant first place on the Pearns Point Round Antigua Race, day 1 of Antigua Sailing Week brought us back to earth with a resounding bump. We found ourselves blocked out at the pin-end of the start line, forced to stop and then obliged to gybe round to get back to the start line. Out of 13 boats in our class we started in a resounding last position.. that is what we technically call ‘a crap start.’

Even worse, we were then forced to watch our arch-rival boat, Scarlett Oyster, power off in front of everyone else, while we were stuck in everyone else’s dirty air. If you ain’t a yacht racer – believe me, that is not a nice place to be. We all looked around wondering why our start was so miserable. Well, it’s simple! We underestimated just how aggressive the start was likely to be. We made the mistake of thinking we could dominate the line. Instead we ended up getting pushed out.

Tomorrow.. tomorrow we shall be more circumspect. We will find a way to get into a much much better position. But, tomorrow is another day.

Today.. .it could have been a disaster. But we didn’t give up. Instead we buckled down and over the first leg we pushed through a whole series of our rival boats. That was due to superb trimming by our trim team of Claire Dresser and Suzie Anthony. Ok – we nearly killed them, but we’ve plenty of crew to work through!

By the end of the first leg we’d pushed ourselves half way up the fleet. On the next leg we managed to take out most of the others. We sailed like demons. We sailed like men and women possessed. By leg 3 we only had two boats in front of us.

Unfortunately, one of these boats was Scarlet Oyster. It’s a beautiful lightweight Oyster, but it is sailed by our good friends Ross Appleby and Timmy “two-pints” Thubron. These guys have sailing magic in their fingertips. I suspect Ross has trained dolphins to drag his boat through the water faster. And, of course they have what we call a “bandit” rating – meaning we believe the only reason they beat us is because their rating favours them. (Not for a moment would we credit the fact that Ross and Tim are just brilliant sailors!)

However, at the next top mark we were rewarded with the brilliant sight of Scarlet Oyster hoisting its spinnaker upside down. Embarrassing or what? Suffice to say they fixed it pretty quickly. We continued to chase them down, but to no avail. On the next upwind leg we failed to make further ground on them, and even though Timmy and Ross exploded a spinnaker on the final downwind leg, we failed to catch them!

Back on the dock we ran through out mistakes, resolved them and we’ve worked out a strategy that should work. Don’t say anything to Scarlett Oyster, but it involves hiring a U-Boat and a couple of torpedoes.

Later in the evening we picked up our prize for third place… but even though we all had a superb day sailing, there is little satisfaction in coming third. When Queen Victoria asked who came second on the first America’s Cup, she was told by the commodore of the Squadron: “In yacht racing, there is no second!”

What was fantastic was the organiser of the whole regatta coming up to us, asking if we were enjoying ourselves and then giving us a superb bottle of rum for simply being part of it.

Again, I ask. What’s not to like about yacht racing!

Photo: Team Southern EHO1 at the Pearns Point Round Antigua Race prizegiving
© Ted Martin/Photofantasyantigua/Antigua Sailing Week

Photo: The happy crew on EHO1
Paul Wyeth/

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