The high cirrus clouds were already moving in over St. Georges yesterday afternoon, heralding the passage of today’s cold front, and bringing with them brisk winds from the west. There are white caps in the harbor now today, and some boats have left the Dinghy Club as the conditions on the outside of the wall become less and less tenable.
But the cold front held off long enough last night, and the weather for the first-ever outdoor prizegiving ceremony couldn’t have been better.
Following the skipper’s briefing for the ARC USA fleet who are heading back to North America on Tuesday, the evening started with a special presentation by Tania Aebi, the famous American sailor who, at age 18, became the youngest woman to sail solo around the world. Tania is skippering Jojo Maria in the ARC USA fleet.
“My dad said I could go off to college,” Tania began, “or he’d buy me a boat and I could sail it around the world! It was an easy choice!”
Over three difficult years, she managed to complete her father’s challenge and came back a changed person. You can listen to the entire talk on the 59º North sailing podcast. It will release next Tuesday.
Following Tania’s talk, the annual Gosling’s Rum tasting took place upstairs in the Dinghy Club. Andrew Holmes represented Goslings and brought along the entire line of rum for the rally crews to sample. He talked the sailors through their range, which has expanded in recent years to include a gold rum, a grenadine syrup, and the famed Bermudan ginger beer, which, combined with the classic Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, creates the famous Dark ‘N Stormy, Bermuda’s national cocktail.
“Everyone loves the Dark ‘N Stormy, of course,” said Holmes. “But this is the real prize of our collection.” Holmes then produced a bottle of Gosling’s Old Rum, an aged rum crafted from the original Black Seal recipe and aged in barrels for 20 years. “It’s a great sipping rum,” Holmes offered, “like a nice whisky. It’s only sold here on Bermuda, so make sure to place your duty free order before sailing for Horta!”
Goslings is a major sponsor for the Bermuda stopover of ARC Europe, and indeed the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers in each class received a Goslings libation, with the winners taking home a bottle of the coveted Old Rum.
Just before the prizegiving ceremony kicked off in earnest, Euphoria, the Xc-42 that had sailed over with the Portsmouth fleet, made their arrival into the Dinghy Club to raucous applause.
“That was really cool for us,” said Simon Borjeson, son of skipper Len Borjeson who is on his was back to Sweden after sailing in the ARC last November. “Especially for our one crew Johan, who has to leave from Bermuda. Just really nice to have him experience some of the ARC stuff with all the people around,” Simon added.
With Euphoria’s arrival, Lyall Burgess took the microphone and introduced the mayor of St. Georges, Francis Quinell, who made opening remarks to the crowd of over 200 crew.
“This is my first speaking engagement,” the mayor began, “ as I’ve only just been elected last Thursday! I’d like to proudly welcome you all to Bermuda and St. Georges especially, and thank you for spending time here. It’s a wonderful island – get out and enjoy it while you’re here!”
The mayor remained to present the first-place prizes in each class. Frank and Lacey Jennings also were on hand representing the St. Georges Dinghy & Sports club. Lacey, Frank’s daughter, is the current Commodore of the club, taking her father Frank’s place who filled the position before her.
“On behalf of the STGDSC, my father and I would like to thank all of you guys for continuing to support us each year. It’s great to see such a large fleet, I think the most we’ve ever had!” Lacey said.”
Because all World Cruising Club events are specifically rallies and not races, we honor those boats who made a special impression on the staff and who most embody the cruising mindset. This year the crew of Morning Haze received the Weems & Plath Navigator’s Award. David & Isabelle with their daughters Demi and Rebecca, are now about to start the final leg of their Atlantic Circuit which they began two years ago in the Caribbean 1500. They’re on their way back to Canada now, and towards ‘real life’ which has evaded them for so long now.
Gozwoz was then recognized for their blogs sent in from at sea, and received a bottle of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum.
The rest of the participants in the ARC USA fleet received their engraved rally plaques, courtesy of Weems & Plath in Annapolis, as recognition for completing the passage.
Frank Jennings launched the competitive portion of the prizegiving with his annual presentation of a basket of Bermuda onions to the yacht first to finish. This year the Outremer catamaran Intrepid Elk took line honors in Bermuda and received Frank’s onions.
“These are the real deal,” said Frank. “The sweetest onions on the planet. You can eat them like an apple!” he joked, though the audience didn’t seem to think he was joking and began chanting ‘eat one!’. Intrepid Elk smartly declined.
Awards were given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in three classes, the first time the fleet has been large enough to warrant that many groups. There was also a multihulls division, which awards prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd. 3rd place for each class took home an 8-pack of Gosling’s Dark ‘N Stormy drinks and a special engraved plaque; 2nd was awarded a bottle of Gosling’s Black Seal rum in addition to their plaque; and first place, presenter by mayor Quinell, was awarded the coveted Gosling’s Old Rum in addition to their plaque.
The full results are available online by clicking here.
The frontal passage that was foretold yesterday by the high cirrus has now arrived in Bermuda, making Monday grey, windy and rainy here in St. Georges. But the party went late last night, so a quiet ‘off’ day around town is probably just what the doctor ordered for the rally crews.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, sees the departure of the USA fleet, plus the skipper’s briefing for Leg 2 of ARC Europe, the big one, 1800 miles across the pond to Horta in the Azores. The ARC Europe fleet expect to depart on Wednesday, and the long-range forecast looks good! Stay tuned!