Just wrapped up my final two big “away” events of the year. They were two very different type events, and both were great. First up was the TP52 Superseries final event of the year in Cascais, Portugal on the good yacht SPOOKIE. This was our second event after getting the boat and we were anxious to apply all that we learned as rookies in Palma Majorca a month earlier at our first event with the boat. The TP52 class is arguably the highest standard in big boat racing today, so what a fantastic challenge to go in there and measure ourselves against the best. After only one week of racing in this very mature and developed class, there was a tremendous amount of learning opportunities available to us, and that was the impetus for doing the Portugal event.
We opened the event with a 1-2 on the first day which was wonderful, yet daunting, as there is only one direction we could go from there in the remaining four days! But we continued to sail really well and did in fact put all that we learned from the first event into great practice. But unfortunately we were doomed by gear failure that was out of our control, with our new mainsails tearing completely in half in three of the ten races. In the end we borrowed a back-up main from one of our competitors in order to race the final two days, and nearly won a couple of those races. I can honestly say that we would have been in the top 5 at this event had we not been plagued with this gear failure, which is a great testament to our team and making great improvement from our first event in this exciting new class.
My second event was the 50th Anniversary of the E Scow Bluechip Regatta in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. This was a legendary one of a kind regatta. For fifty years they have been following a tradition of inviting a mystery rock star guest to their final championship of the year in the class. It’s a wonderful concept, where a rock star comes in and gets given a boat he has never sailed, and a crew that he has never met, and goes up against the top ranked teams in the class from around the nation at their final event of the year. It has been a huge success, with all the top Olympic, Americas Cup, and Volvo sailors accepting the invitation over the years. So on their 50th anniversary they decided to do something special and invite all the past mystery guests, plus some honorary legends, to a truly one of a kind event. Twenty four skippers accepted, and were randomly paired with 24 teams and their boats, for three days of some of the most memorable racing with the leaders and legends of our sport. Dave Ullman, Jonathan Mackee, Paul Cayard, Dave Perry, Peter Commette, Cam Lewis, Mark Reynolds, and the list goes on. This was probably the greatest gathering of Olympic Medalists and World Champions that have ever been assembled. On top of this was having Buddy Melges, Peter Harken, and Olaf Harken hanging around and sharing in this celebration for the whole weekend. What a truly wonderful experience.
Oh and there was some racing too. Six races over three days, in light, medium, and heavy winds, with all the tricks a small lake can throw at you, in one of the sports trickiest boats to sail. Good stuff. In the end Bora Gulari, two time Moth world champion and currently campaigning a Nacra 17 cat for the Olympics won. I finished second, just a few points behind Bora. But most important, I had a fantastic time racing a small boat again, pulling ropes, hiking out, and just plain sailboat racing against the best sailors in our sport. Reminded me of why I love sailing.
Back home now in the Virgin Islands to enjoy the end of the year, a few big meetings in our Caribbean Sailing Association that I chair, a couple training sessions, and a match race event to wrap up a lovely 2015. And then it will be the start of another year with new races, challenges, and adventures. Life is good.
A quick shout out to my partners Kaenon Polarized, the best sunglasses on the planet, and Horizon Yacht Charters, the only place to go when you want to go cruising on a boat. And a mini shout to a new clothing brand that my second cousin is promoting, called johnnie-O, some really nice simple threads.
All the best, peter