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Witte Raaf in Bequia Easter Regatta


Upon leavingTrinidad, P sprained her ankle so we were forced to stay for another two weeks. “The Big Leap” as the Americans call the Trinidad-Grenada traject, is never pleasant, a beat to windward in an awful chop. But in the end we had relatively fine weather and P didn't have to go to the mast that often, although the trip still wore her out. So the ankle got a week more rest in St.George, Grenada, at the pontoon at the yacht club, a very cosy place.

From Grenada to Bequia we sailed in two marvellous days. We were lucky with the wind and we were faster than a couple of much bigger boats! The best came in the end, when we tacked into Admiral's Bay (everyone lowers their sails and uses the engine for the last 2 miles). A good work-out and a great excercise for the upcoming regatta. The official regatta photographer found it so spectacular that he came out especially for us! We are used to people grabbing for their camera's upon seeing Witte Raaf, but this was a real boost. We arranged with him to take more pictures during the regatta, in particular of Witte Raaf battling with other yachts. This he did and he made some wonderful pictures.

Time for the Bequia Easter Regatta. 14 yachts in our class with sometimes the most extraordinary TCFs. For example, we had to be 3 minutes per hour faster than a modern 50 ft schooner, and win 2 minutes per hour on an FF – the abbreviation means Fast & Fun.

We were fortunate to be able to leave some big French GRP behind us! and
Our friend Toko, owner of our favourite pub was our tactician and his cellphone rang all the time (“Eine kleine Nachtmusik”) as his many friends ashore kept an eye on the current and windshifts. Nevertheless our first race was not faultless, which would cost us a ranking in the top 3 overall.

The second day is the most important race of the series: around the island, starting with a tough beat to windward around Bequia Head. The islanders are more interested in the traditional double enders, (by the way they have a Le Mans-start from the beach); but as soon as a local is on board of one of the yachts, that yacht is suddenly a celebrity. Radio Bequia followed the Round Bequia Race live and and crowed into the air: “Toko is in front!”

Our colleagues were enthousiastic as well: “You guys rocked!” And indeed: first in! Toko was elated and so were we as we even beat a Bénéteau 47.3 and a Jeanneau 45.2 on line honours. The first prize was a handheld GPS, a great asset as we just needed that for the car rallies in Suriname.

The third day is lay-day for the yachts and only the traditional boats race. And afterwards they are pulled on the beach to be admired by everyone. and

The last day was crucial. Our anchor with 50 meters of chain was already on the bottom of the bay while we were racing, and on top of that we now took all heavy gear out of the foc's'le and cockpit lockers and stored them in the main cabin just above the keel: foresails, air compressor, spare anchor with chain and rope and the extremely heavy 6 persons liferaft.

Good start, great race and , but unfortunately at the finish we met ultimate disaster when we were suddenly totally becalmed in a shifting and variable wind. This cost us 3 minutes at least as we had to tack twice in no wind. Our opponents, of whom we thought that we had beaten them, profited 5 minutes later of a favourable wind where we had been in deep trouble, and dashed over the finish line. The difference on corrected time was only a couple of seconds but this cost us the third place in the race and overall. A consolation was that we lost the third place from the only other beautiful boat in our class: Concinnity, a Bermuda 40 centerboard yawl designed by Bill Tripp and built by Hinckley. They participate for years already and never won, so we were happy for them. And by the way as a newcomer you don't want to walk away with all the prizes. Fourth out of fourteen: a result to be proud of, as we haven't been racing Witte Raaf for at least 10 years.

Photo's 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 11 and 12: Kenmore, BequiaPhotoaction
Photo's 5 and 6: Bobby Ward, sy Gr
áinne USA


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