Race week began for me with the feeder race to Key West from Ft. Lauderdale on a Beneteau 35s5 called Mistral. This was fairly uneventful and we were even doing quite well in our class until about midnight when we realized we were taking on water and the pumps weren't handling it. After a quick search of all the through hull fittings and seacocks we realized the water was coming in through the anchor locker and the plastic part up there that is supposed to bail the water out was gone. So we dropped the main and had to sail the rest of the way on just a #3 Jib in an attempt to keep the bow up and the boat relatively flat. Needless to don't win races this way. But we did finish and not even last in our class! Mostly....the night was long...cold.. ...and very wet!

Russ driving Mistral to KW

Now for the Race Week... this is by far the best regatta in the U.S. In all there were a record 269 yachts entered from 16 countries and 31 states. An estimated 2600 sailors from around the world showed up in Key West this year! The list of sailors reads like a "who's who" in the yacht racing community with names like Dawn Riley, JJ Isler, Harry Melges, Russell Coutts, Brad Butterworth, Rod Davis, John Kolius and Gary Jobson...the list goes on!

After a reasonable night's sleep, it was time to meet up with the crew for our week on Risky Business, a Hobie 33.

Risky Business

Included in this adventure are:

  • Myself - pit
  • Tom - cockpit
  • Chris - tactician
  • Matthew - helm
  • Jason - trimmer
  • Fiona - forguy, topping lift and numbers caller
  • Ashley - mast
  • Charles - bow
  • Magnus - human guy and takedowns
  • Magnus' position was taken over by Joe starting on Wednesday after he had to return to work.

    So the team arrived (all Britts except Magnus from Sweden and Joe from Maine) and all but Tom and myself had their first look at a Hobie 33 and I'm not sure I can describe the reaction. It quickly became clear that this was not a boat any were used to sailing on but after all, I had warned them all that they would go home bruised and battered after a week on Risky Business! I didn't exaggerate!

    A general once-over on the boat and some fast repairs and changes, a trip up the mast for inspection, some duct tape here and there, and finally out for a practice sail.

    This went relatively well, as the wind was over 15 or so and the goal was to figure out how to tack this thing most efficiently with 9 people on her. It took some fancy 'dance steps' but already we were acting like a team.

    Sunday was time for more practice and speed checks against one of the other Hobie 33's that showed up called Altercation. We started to feel confident in the boat, but we also saw we were going to have to work hard at this game to get any wins in! It was clear that the competition was going to be tuff.

    I'll try to keep this low on it was 5 days and 8 races, and it would take a lot to give you all the details of every race and you probably don't want to read all that anyway!

    Monday was very light air and we had had good wind for both practices. Our results showed we hadn't learned all the tricks of making this boat fast in light stuff. It never blew over 7k that day and we were kind of upset that the race committee gave us two races in these conditions. We finished 8th and 7th. Very disappointing to us.

    Tuesday looked much better, as the breeze had come back. More like 10-15k and a few degrees warmer as well. Good for morale and better for racing. It showed in the race results. We got a 2nd and a 5th! I was extremely excited, as I would get to hear my name called for the first time in the party tent! After 5 years of sailing this regatta, my first chance to collect some hardware for it!

    Where's the Rum Tent?!? (Chris, Tom, and Matthew)

    Wednesday my chance came again as we pulled a 2nd and a 4th and this after breaking both the vang ('kicker' in Britt) and a stanchion base. More repairs to cut into partying time! This was getting very habit forming! It also became pretty clear that the Thompson 26 with the rating of 84 was not to be beaten. At least not by us. She finally was beaten in one race by Altercation but never again all week. We were disappointed that that boat was not placed in the class above us, as it really seems that's where she belonged.

    Thursday was the day of major upset for us. We were sent on a 7 leg race and at the 4th mark we were well out in the lead. When rounding the 4th mark we had a problem when the jib caught in the prefeeder and the trouble began. We were unable to hoist it and had to finally get it down and get another jib up. All of this cost us 4 places, which is where we finished. Highly discouraging however I must say the crew did a great job of recovering from the disaster and really pulled together to not have that result any worse than that.

    Friday was our last chance to shine and shine we did! The crew was brilliant and we raced very well and pulled another 2nd for the last race. Unfortunately, the rest of the boats in our class (except the Thompson) all finished over 3 minutes behind us, but managed to finish in the wrong order for us to win 3rd overall for the week. We needed one less point for that, but I must say another chance to hear my name at the awards ceremony and collect one more trophy didn't break my heart either!

    All in all it was just a great week! Lots of bruised bodies and lots of smiles all around. Lots of Rum at the party tent every day and fun on the town each night! The Hot tub was much appreciated and needed by all of us!!!

    The "knot and shot" contest each night became a challenge for some of our crew as well. If you have never seen goes like this. First you drink a shot of rum poured down an ice luge (block of ice with a groove in it), then you grab a hunk of line, tie a bowline, lasso a post on wheels, pull it to you and then chug a beer. All this is done by stopwatch and prizes are given to the fastest. Last I saw.. the record was 17 seconds, and Ashley managed it in 20. Guess a bit of practice roping cows would fix that!