SUE PELLING'S DOCKSIDE STORIES DAY 2
28 Apr, 2008
Sue Pelling's Dockside Stories Day 2
Sail’s pitch in Nelson’s Dockyard
Guy Hector, the supervisor at A and F sails, assures us that while the five strong sail repair team may look like they’re shirking their responsibilities while sitting in the sun during a busy Stanford Antigua Sailing Week Race Day, they are infact taking an extended break.
Hector who’s worked at the Nelson’s Dockyard for 10 years, says throughout the week they carry out a 24-hour service. Hector commented: “We don’t take shifts but take extended breaks and continue throughout the night. So we’re not actually liming around as it looks.”
Apparently this week is one of the busiest times but it is the end of the busy season so once this week is over, the situation quietens down a bit. On a day like yesterday with lots of downwind work the team would expect do quite a lot of spinnaker repairs but on an Olympic-type course there are more mainsails and gennaker repairs.
Hector continues: “Interestingly, the windier it gets the less jobs we have because the heavier the wind the heavier the sails like a number No 3 and No 4, so if the conditions are 18-20kts it’s less work for us.”
The work, Hector assures us, is guaranteed to be completed overnight but does work on a first-come-first-served basis.
Hector concluded: “We are the driving force of race week because if we decide we’re not going to fix your sail and you only have one suit of sails, then you are doomed.”
Grim day for Lolita and Sojana
The second day of Stanford Antigua Sailing Week was looking good for the likes of Peter Harrison’s 115ft Sojana and Frank Savage’s Swan 56 Lolita. A good breeze reaching 20kts from the south-east and a downwind course all the way from Fort James back to Falmouth couldn’t have been better.
Unfortunately it all came to a fairly abrupt halt for a while, shortly after the race started. While rounding the most northerly mark the two boats – both on port tack – had a fairly brutal coming together, which resulted in much damage to both parties. Fortunately no one was injured during the collision but both boats will need a lot of repair. As Sojana arrived back at Falmouth Marina this afternoon, we managed to catch up with skipper Mark Fitzgerald who explained what happened.
“We gybe set at the top mark with Lolita just in front of us. They set their kite just before us and bore off. We went up to clear them but they came up really hard and then wiped out. It shouldn’t really have been a problem but they just lost it and then lost it again. We hit parallel, they came in at a very shallow angle and because we were travelling much quicker they just scrapped all the way along the side of our boat and have totally wrecked the end of the boom on the mizzen mast.”
The teams now face a lengthy stint in the protest room and Fitzgerald believes Team Lolita’s argument will be windward boat should have kept clear. “It wasn’t so much we didn’t have an opportunity to keep clear, we just didn’t have a hope in hell. We’ve got a lot of damage to our boat but they were lucky they didn’t lose some heads on their boat. The last we saw of them they were dropping their spinnaker and heading back. They must have had a lot of damage down their port side.”
As far as the team on Sojana can see there seems to be no structural damage to the hull but Fitzgerald admitted that such an accident is incredibly scary, adding “You know there is going to be a horrible impact and somebody might get killed. I was more worried for them [Lolita]. No one in our crew was any danger but for those on the rail of their boat could have been in trouble.”
… latest news from the protest room reveals that Sojana was disqualified from the today’s race.
VOR navigator takes time out from busy VOR campaign
British professional navigator Simon Fisher (aka Si Fi) is enjoying taking time out of his Spanish Volvo Ocean Race training regime competing here at Stanford Antigua Sailing Week.
Si Fi, navigator aboard ABN Amro 2 in the last Volvo Ocean Race, is working with a two-boat Spanish team based in Alicante but this week he’s racing aboard Stuart Robinson’s Swan 70 Stay Calm with many of his friends from back home in the UK.
Chatting positively about the week Si Fi commented: “It’s really nice to be able take a week out and come and enjoy the sailing in Antigua and to see some mates on board I haven’t seen for a while. We’re racing hard here but it’s actually relatively relaxing and certainly different from racing the Med Cup and the VOR and the America’s Cup which I normally do. I’ve been full on working with the Spanish team doing sail testing so it’s nice to come and do a bit of racing just to keep myself sharp.”
The team aboard Stay Calm got off to good start on the opening day yesterday by winning the first leg of the round the island race in Racing Class II but today they got squeezed out at the start and although they made up the ground they lost, they lost out to Chippewa– Clayton Deutsch’s Swan 68. Si Fi concluded: “We prefer it when it’s a bit lighter. We won yesterday and they beat us today, hopefully we’re in the running still.”
More TP52 please
Benny Kelly owner of the sole TP52 – Panthera – competing at Stanford Antigua Sailing Week says it’s a shame no more turned out for this regatta. Chatting today after their first win of the week Kelly commented: “I have to say I am surprised there are no more TP52s in the Caribbean. It’s the perfect environment for the TPs to perform well. It would be nice to see more TP 52s here because it would elevate the quality of the regatta. I would imagine there probably would be next year.
Kelly from Northern Ireland has had the boat now for two and a half years racing with the same core crew including British professional sailor Andy Beadsworth. They have just sailed over from St Martin having won the Heineken Regatta and after this regatta they’ll head to Cork Week the event they won two year’s ago. Talking about their hopes at Cork Week this year, Kelly concluded: “Defending our title is going to be a tough call because there are some good teams on the circuit, so we have no real expectations for this one.”
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