Match Racing to the end
The last 24 hours saw some challenging and exhilarating sailing. Rain squalls with accompanying winds of 30 to 40 knots. Flying just the spinnaker, we would accelerate quickly as the gusts hit us. At one point we had a top speed of 24 knots (Can’t say exactly as the wind speed meter had been blown off the mast, sustained for 20 to 30 seconds, with the spray coming off the bows like a powerboat.) This was followed by periods of very light winds. Shortly after sunrise we had dolphins on the bow again.
Since a few days into the start of the race, we hadn’t seen another boat and then out of the darkness a few days ago loomed Celeste of Solent, a far 65. Each of us sailing our own race, our paths would cross as we both went in different directions only for us to reconnect every day or so, we were so closely matched. So, it was no surprise on our arrival day, at sunrise, there was Celest of Solent just off our bows. They tacked deciding to go for speed but having to cover a greater distance, while we goose winged both the Spinnaker and our code zero and gambled on the direct course. Just a few miles before the finish, there once again appeared Celeste of Solent off our Starboard. Sadly, for them, under the pressure of competition, they blew out their spinnaker giving us the break we needed. Nevertheless, we still had a close race on our hands as the big monohull typically beats harder and faster than a multihull and the last mile or so was a beat to the finish. The crew on Gust of Wind came together like a well-oiled team. We dropped the spinnaker, raised the main, unfurled the code zero and dropped the dagger boards in a matter of seconds. Then beat up to the finish line only to get a wind shift forcing us to foil the code zero while unfurling the solent to allow us to beat harder, all the while knowing that Celeste of Solent was minutes behind us and would quickly take advantage of any mistakes we made. No chance of that. Over the finish line and on to the marina to be welcomed with a large glass of rum punch and the Caribbean reggae music and laid-back lifestyle of the locals offering us anything we wanted and some more! I had forgotten the exhilaration of match racing. Such an exciting end to an amazing race. Meeting up with the crew of Celeste of Solent at the marina demonstrated the comradery and spirit that the arc is known for. A great bunch of guys (and a few gals) from Sweden.
. Officially we came 3rd in multihulls and 7th overall. The decision to start on the Northerly route, although tough sailing did prove to be the right decision as many of the Southerly boats still not having arrived.
The welcoming party for the ARC that night quickly moved from the official event to Gust of Wind. Funny, that’s happened a few nights.
Bruce has left this morning on his long trip home. We all learnt much from each other (and not just sailing)
We have been here at Rodney Bay for a few days. The bars have recorded record sales. The marina is great and meeting the others from the arc has been fun. The atmosphere is jovial and celebratory as the new boats are arriving thick and fast.Hopefully we will run into many of them over the next couple of months in the Caribbean. But its now time to move again and so tomorrow we move on to find a peaceful anchorage and hopefully some diving (amongst more rum punch) (PS its 80 %)