GT Regatta “Around the Island” Race

The Kaleo crew was up early to enjoy a warm and filling breakfast of Migas before boarding “SYL” at 8:30 to prep for the day’s race.

The “Around the Island Race” is an 18.5 mile course that starts and ends in Elizabeth Harbour and makes a circle around Lee Stocking Island with more than half of the sailing in the open waters of the Exuma Sound.

The next hour and half was a flurry of activity as lunches were made, gear was secured, sails were hoisted and “SYL” was tacking and jibing through the harbor. Each crew member prepped for their assigned duties with Rusty at the wheel and mainsheet for upwind, Matt at the wheel and starboard jib sheet for downwind, Ted on the port jib sheet and camera for our photography entries, Christie on the port jib when Ted was snapping photos and thinking through how to make the dessert for the baking entry in 5′-7′ seas.

Ted taking timing notes

“SYL” found her groove and the race horn sounded as we blazed toward the start line, crossing just behind “Guiding Light” and “Sun Burst.” Having run the course a few times before, “SYL” knew where she needed to be as Matt kept her in the wind slot for the fastest speed. Rusty and Ted trimmed sheets as Christie shouted the distance behind and ahead of our competitors, and we all melded into race mode.

Crew of “SYL” underway

Rounding the in-harbour marks (buoys that denote the race course), the bows were pointed toward the open water of Exuma Sound as we plowed forward into ever growing seas. The overnight winds had built large 5′-7′ rolling seas and white froth would spray over “SYL” as we sailed down the back of each one. More than once Matt had to run out front to adjust a line and every time the water would wash over him like it was spit out of a blender.

Matt and Ted adjusting the downhaul on the wet foredeck

When all the other boats in our class tacked out to stay away from shore, Rusty decided to try and save some time by staying in close. The advantage was less current and better wind to continue on course but the disadvantage was sailing breath-holdingly close to the jagged cliffs of smalls cays that could have quickly put an end to our race that day (not to mention any sailing thereafter.)

The captain proved himself to be made of steel as “SYL” came within about 30 feet of the rocky outcroppings while we maintained a very tight course. At one point we could feel the spray ricocheting off the rocks with each wave crash. Rusty was confident in his vessel’s ability to point high enough into the wind to stay clear of the danger. The rest of us pretty much said our prayers, held our breath and waited to jump on any command that would signal evasive action. Once the danger had passed, we all agreed that it was a move that just might have put us as top contenders in our class.

Trusty Captain Rusty

Not willing to give up an inch by patting ourselves on the back, we rounded the final mark and set course for the finish line by twisting, tweaking and trimming every sail for maximum speed. Within minutes, we sailed across the finish line and back into island style, lazily returning to the anchorage area to unwind. Linda and Mili had been prepping a late lunch and we soon were dining like monarchy aboard “Morning Glory”. Full enough to warrant a nap, but almost late for the post-race party, our dinghies ferried us to St. Francis where crews gathered to share storiesĀ  and strategies of the race. It was an incredible sunset on Gaviota Bay as we looked at all the race photos displayed, tasted the “baking underway” entries, and sipped sundowners with good company.

The race crew of “SYL”. Stance inspired by the movie “Wind”.

We returned to Kaleo with great anticipation for Friday evening’s Regatta Awards Ceremony where the final results of the races and contests would be announced.

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