30 knots in the Caribbean

J/24s go atoppling at the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series

Saturday January 18th 2014, Author: Sue Pelling, Location: Barbados

Day two of the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series produced big winds and big waves, which made for spectacular sailing. The biggest excitement of the day was in the first race for J/24s when gusts up to 30 knots hit the race course causing half the fleet to fall like dominos. Thankfully there was no serious damage and most of the fleet was soon on track again to complete a second race in slightly less gusty conditions.

After the first short beat in Carlisle Bay in race one, the fleet sailed round Needhams Point on a two mile beat to a mark along the south coast. Initial leader Team Sugar Beach Attitude from St Lucia sailed a good couple of legs but on the shifty beat to Tapas, Banks Esperanza (Ian Mayers and team) sailed well, improving their position from sixth to first at the windward mark.

Swift mark roundings and kite hoists saw the fleet head off on a sleigh ride downwind in the constantly building breeze. Team Banks Esperanza continued to sail well and took advantage of their position in clear air at the front of the fleet while behind, fun and games were in full flow with boats broaching all over the course.

The worst capsize of the day was Robbie Yearwood’s Island Water World Die Hard which remained over on her side for nearly five minutes while the crew struggled to right her. Although there were thankfully no crew injuries she lost a shroud cap and had to be towed in by the Coastguard.

Yearwood recounted: “We were doing 13 knots of boat speed in over 25 knots, sailing by the lee towards the mark. There was another boat to leeward of us also sailing by the lee so we had to sail above the mark to avoid a collision. Consequently we were forced to gybe and because I pointed up to high after the gybe we capsized. She took ages to right because the spinnaker got tangled in the shroud.”

Had their been a prize for the best seamanship for the day however, Robert Povey on Hawkeye who made a wise decision to drop the kite just before the gust hit would definitely have been on the short list. Their prudence paid off too, because they then went on to secure second place behind Banks Esperanza in that race, and took first place in the second race of the day with Banks Esperanza in second. This leaves Banks Esperanza in the overnight lead with seven points over Impulse in second with 11 points, and Hawkeye in third with 16 points.

Elsewhere on the race course today, fleet battles emerged creating no shortage of interest particularly in Racing Class where a dispute about some boats not sailing the correct course led to protest. The outcome resulted in a two-minute time penalty added to finish times of Rapajam and Spirit of Venus, however, this did little to affect Rapajam’s overall first place result. In second place was the British Reichel Pugh 78 Idea, and in third, the J/105 Whistler.

Peter Lewis, skipper of Whistler, commenting on today’s racing, said: “We had excellent conditions and we sailed well as a team. We touched about 14 knots of boat speed in 25 knots of wind so our spinnaker runs added excitement to an already great day. We were also pleased to be one of the teams to sail the correct course.”

After a tough day on the water crews enjoyed the full Barbadian hospitality at Barbados Cruising Club and the Barbados Yacht Club.

Coastal racing continues tomorrow with courses set on the south coast to take full advantage of the strong breeze and big rolling waves that Barbados is noted for.

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