Friday, April 11, 2014

St. Barths Bucket Regatta

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I recently spent a week in St. Barthelemy (St. Barths) in the French West Indies, performing as crew on a 112 ft. ketch-rigged Alloy Yacht (Ron Holland-designed) named Blue Too.

This was the third year I have been lucky enough to crew on this boat for 'the Bucket', and it is still a bit surreal to spend a week in March racing in a Superyacht regatta, surrounded by some of the largest sailboats ever made (Maltese Falcon, Panthalassa, Seahawk, Zenji, Hyperion to name just a few) alongside some of the best, most prominent sailors in the sport.  It is truly a week of fantastic sailing. 

What I love the most about this week is the reminder that sailing is completely a team sport and that camaraderie is something that sailing breeds better than most sports I have ever played.  When you race sailboats larger than dinghys, you quickly get used to the fact that not much can be accomplished without good teamwork, acting in concert with one another.  When you are on a 112 ft. boat that has all of its power supplied hydraulically, takes almost 2 minutes to complete a tack, and requires five  crew 30 minutes to 'wool' a spinnaker, you become aware of how important each member of the team is, and that each 'job' has to be completed in order for the boat to accomplish anything, and has to be done nearly flawlessly for the boat to perform well.

We on Blue Too have done very well in this regatta each year. In 2012, we ended up Third overall (2-6-2); last year we had to drop out of a race when a crew member was injured (he was injured but is now OK), but still finished Fourth (1-13-2). This year, the expectations were high, and we didn't disappoint-coming in Third (8-3-1).

What this regatta offers a Lake Michigan sailor like me is a great deal of perspective; perspective on how different but how similar a boat three times the size of my own can be; how the camaraderie of our sport so easily transcends language, bodies of water, and level of experience - as most sailors are just great people, wherever you are. 

I consider myself lucky to have 'found' sailing, as it has provided me many memories, opportunities, successes, and even failures.  This is exactly why I am in the business of helping others 'find' this sport/lifestyle, too.