Well it’s a wrap, the 2016 Caribbean racing season is now done and dusted. My race tour started with the Caribbean 600 in February, and just finished with the Voile de St. Barths in mid April. Thanks to some good work by the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) and each of the individual regattas, this region now dominates the international race calendar for the winter/spring period. The weather is great this time of year, logistics are getting easier, and the events are all lifting their games and providing first class racing.
And overall it was a good year for racing down here, with higher than average winds, some very nice weather, and lots of good teams competing. My season started with two events on the RP 82 Highland Fling , first the Caribbean 600 in February, and then a week later the Heineken Regatta in St. Maarten. The 600 was an epic race, but unfortunately we had rig issues ¾ of the way through and had to retire. The Heineken was also a good event, with big fleets, challenging courses, and lots of shore side entertainment. Following this was the St. Barths Bucket, where I drove the 56m Rosehearty, with Paul Cayard calling tactics. Big, comfortable, and lots of fun, yet a full-on challenge to race this big of a yacht safely against a fleet of other big boats around granite marks. We managed to win our class after a tense final race while dealing with some gear failures.
Next up for me was the St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) on the TP52 Spookie. This regatta offers a great variety of racing, with short courses that weave their way around rocks and islands with heaps of tricky current and wind to play. With 20+ kts of breeze every day, this event offered some of the best racing ever. We followed this up with the BVI Spring Regatta the next week and again some solid wind and scenic courses giving us loads of fun on the TP52. We won both these events, although the competition was not great, so we hope that teams do a better job networking in advance next year about which events to attend.
The final event of my Caribbean tour was the Voiles de St. Barths in mid April. Our class had no shortage of competition, with three other TP52’s, plus the Kerr 53 Tonnerre and the Kerr 55 Varuna. This event broke the windy mold and we had three days of very light and tricky racing. Luckily St. Barths is one of the nicest places on the planet, so being delayed ashore wasn’t all that bad! We managed a second at this event and it showed us that we still have quite a bit to work on before our next series of races.
Next up for me in June is a series of events on Spookie in the Newport, RI area, and then the Newport to Bermuda Race. We will have some serious competition at all these events from some really good TP52 teams, so the challenge ahead is a good one that I am really looking forward to.