February 2016 Update

It has been a great start to my year of racing. First up was the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race in mid January on the TP52 Spookie. This is about 160 miles of downwind racing along the Florida Keys, playing the Gulf Stream currents, the shallow waters along the reef, the imaginary boundary along the keys set by the organizers, and the weather systems in play. We had a good race, plenty of sail changes through the night, and finished at about 4am, wining first overall.

Next up was Quantum Key West Race Week, also on Spookie, and sailing against a tough group that included the 2015 TP52 World Champions, another top TP52, plus a new 45 footer. The racing was hot, with many of them decided by just seconds. Going into the final race we were ½ point behind Quantum, so the race winner would win the week. Unfortunately the weather got nasty and the committee abandoned racing, so we ended the week in second, ½ point out of first. Bugger!

But two great races for our Spookie team, who lifted their game with every race. It’s a great boat, a wonderful crew, and I look forward to our next events together in the Caribbean.

My most recent event was last week, the Caribbean 600 on the 82foot Highland Fling. This race is becoming one of the new classic distance races of the world. For these reasons- February (ie. winter), 600 miles, start and finish in Antigua, while rounding 11 different islands, wearing t-shirts, under a full moon, with winds between 15 and 25 knots, while screaming along at up to 25knots. What is there not to like about it?! Most of the world’s heavy hitters now make this a part of their race schedule. We had prepared our inshore boat pretty well for this offshore test, but knew that we would be up against more than just the competition. We had a nice start and were in a tight pack with the four Maxi 72s for most of the race, so having a nice race within a race, always good for pushing yourself. We were leading our pack into Guadelupe, with only a couple more legs to go in the race, when we had problems with our rigging holding up the mast and had to retire. A real shame, as we were probably looking at a top 3 result, and our boat and team had been performing so well. Even this disappointment though will not erase the sweet memories of rounding Nevis and St. Kitts at sunset, rounding Saba at 10pm only a couple hundred feet from shore, rounding St. Barths and St. Maarten in darkness, racing just meters from our pack of boats all through this time, dolphins playing with us, and the general life onboard doing an offshore race with 20 of your new best friends. Truly a fantastic race that I hope to do many more times.

Now home for a couple days to wash my cloths, and then it’s off to the Heineken regatta in St. Maarten tomorrow, also on the Highland Fling. This time I intend to finish all the races and help get our team in the chocolates!

All de best, peter

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