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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Boating Lifestyle, Carousel Feature, Sailboat Racing, UK, US |

Antigua Sailing Week: The Gloves Come Off

Jonathan Russo takes us aboard Northern Child for the first day of buoy racing in Antigua.

Today the sonorous voice of Captain Christian Reynolds and the calm voice of first mate Tim devolved into the frantic and urgent cries that I know so well from my other sailing races. As I have mentioned, Christian wants to win. That often requires a super effort by the crew, and he expected we would give it. So the gloves came off.

The crew on Northern Child races upwind at Antigua Sailing Week. Photo: Paul Wyeth

The day started out with very light winds, but that quickly changed when a strong breeze filled in with gusts to 20kts from the southeast. We crossed the starting line early and had to go back and start over…which meant we were trailing the whole fleet. We made many sail changes and tacked and jibed to press any and every advantage we might have. The beauty of the day, the majesty of a horizon filled with multi-colored sails, the backdrop of the high rocky coast—these were not permitted distractions.

The real tricky maneuvers were the mark roundings, when the spinnaker is hoisted or dropped and the genoa is dropped or hauled up. The timing has to be absolutely perfect and everyone must know just what to pull or release. A mistake can cause a delay, or even break something. The setup for these sail changes involves dozens of must do knots, winch set ups, and precisely timed hauling on various lines. I am able to say we did them all satisfactorily, though not all were perfect.

If you have ever seen the long running Broadway play “Noises Off” you will have a little of the flavor of what this day was like aboard Northern Child. Screaming British-accents trying to direct fifteen crew where they should be and get them to do what they are supposed to do, all while the boat is moving fast and the other boats are too.

It may be an acquired taste, but I love this sport. I had a fantastic day afloat. We did not do so well in the race results, but Christian is confident tomorrow we will catch up.

—Jonathan Russo

Watch the daily video update from Antigua Sailing Week

Read Jonathan’s previous posts about his experience at Antigua Sailing Week:

Antigua Sailing Week: Fun Ashore and Around the Island

Antigua Sailing Week: Becoming a Team

Antigua Sailing Week: Practice Day