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
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!
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
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
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 Gráinne USA