Great Sailing, Smashing Time, and Chocolates!

See Heineken Regatta Photos for more pictures.

What better way to round out our Caribbean cruise, than competing in the Heineken Regatta. Over the past year plus, St. Martin has turned into our Caribbean "home port" so if we were going to race again, it would have to be St. Martin's famed Heineken regatta. The regatta format is four races over a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday you race around the island. Saturday there's two races the first starting at Simpson Bay and the second ending at Marigot. Sunday you race from Marigot back to Simpson Bay. Each night bands, street parties, and local food help the regatta live up to its slogan, "serious fun".

Our crew was a multinational sorted lot; sailor friends we've met over the last couple of years, and some of their friends joined from the US, England, Germany, and Italy. All were intent on having a good time and what a great bunch of sailors! In race two, tactician Nigel had us in just the right place at the start, and then everyone executed the rest of the race flawlessly. It was such a good race the Heineken press release for the day read... "Someone who got the start right in the morning was Bill Jacobson at the wheel of the J46 Vanish. She shot off the line like a scalded cat, headed the fleet to the first mark and shot off into the distance to finish first on the water." To be fair the release went on to talk about our "rubbish" start in the afternoon, but who needs to go into details. (I probably should also mention that the guy writing the reports, the Mighty DJ (Dick Johnson), was our crew member Hannah Johnson's dad!)

Prior to the races I was hoping for 10-15 kts of breeze and just to not have anyone get hurt or cause to much damage to our ride home. Day one it's blowing 18-23 with gusts into the low 30s. With nerves up, it was great sailing and the crew could handle the wind no problem! After two days and three races of these conditions, Vanish was heading into the last day and last race tied for first place! The winds eased a bit the last day, we changed to a lighter headsail, and something was just off a bit for the last race. After a difficult start, instead of leading the fleet, we found ourselves stuck in dirty air working as hard as we could to claw our way through the fleet. Bold moves were taken, including a spinnaker peel and some great spin trim by the tireless Steve. At the end, we took an eighth in the race moving us to an overall third out of eighteen. Third! That's much better than I'd expected in a class of eighteen competitive boats; and I've got the chocolates to show for it! Vanish sails fast. Thanks for a great time everyone!