Mar 14, 2019

Touch2play at Heineken RegattaTouch2Play Racing just finished the 39​th​ Heineken Regatta in St M​a​arten. It was an epic event by all standards that regattas and parties are measured by! Next year’s 40​th​ is going to be even better so find a way to get there. There are lots of great race boats to charter or join the fun in the bareboat division. You’ll ​definitely ​want to be there next year.  

Since you may not have followed it ​t​his year, here is a brief recap of our experience in CSA 3 with Touch2Play Racing. The division splits ranged from us as the slowest to a couple of Grand Sol 43’ boats. In the middle is the J122’s and J120 as well as the Benny First 40 Sea Gal skipped by Joel Segal (get it!) and sailed by fellow Canadians out of Montreal. 

Heineken Regatta 2019
Photo Credit Laurens Morel

 

The forecast was Chamber of Commerce weather; sunny, warm air and water and perfect trade wind breeze​ ​14-22 ​knots ​all week. A unique element to the Caribbean Racing Association rule is that you can have two rating​s​, large sail or smaller sail; you just need to declare before the event starts. We had a new J2 from Quantum that we used in Grenada and it showed to have good range and this forecast looked to be its sweet spot. After lots of deliberation (or libations, they sound the same) we decided to save the 4 points on the rating and take only the smaller headsail, leaving the 141% ashore.

Heineken Regatta 2019
Photo Credit Laurens Morel

This was the beginning of many good fortunes to go our way. This decision alone determined our outcome. If you’ve followed us before you know this is close racing, but it is truly amazing how close it is. In five races​,​ where we ended up in fron​​t, ​ ​the next boat w​​as behind​ by 54, 4, 52, 8 and 4 seconds. Read that again​…​two races by less than oneminute and three races by less than ten seconds​!​ The two races that came down to four seconds had elapsed times of 3:30 hours and 2:45 hours. The shortest race of the week, a windward/ leeward​,​ lasted just under an hour and had the biggest deltas in corrected, a whopping one and a half minutes from first to second. We have been on the sad side of some of those close races and the whole crew knew to push hard every moment. 

Heineken Regatta 2019
Photo Credit Laurens Morel

The racing was close all week between Scarlet Oyster from England, Liquid from Antigua and ourselves. The outcome of the final race would establish the podium order​ ​- Game 7 overtime​ -​ as Brian and Jaime referred to it. The game plan for the final race was to sail conservative​ly and hang onto the boats that owed us time. Well​,​ we threw that​ plan out the window at the start when we got hung out a little in the port reaching start. ​We t​hen began the long upwind of a 20 mile race. Liquid sailed great upwind and had a lead of over 5 minutes at the turning mark. We both deployed our reaching sails toward a gybe mark. Liquid doused and we decided now was the time to see if we could carry it. We did, but the main was waving frantically asking to be part of the sail plan, only to be denied, any trimming of it meant rounding up. As the shoreline curved around towards Phillipsburg the breeze freed up. We peeled to our big pink spinnaker sooner than Liquid was able to get their runner up and we began chipping into their lead. We stayed closer to the shore looking for puffs off the land, Liquid went out for following seas 
and current. 
We worked the boat hard pumping on waves and caught one that seemed to just keep us rolling for the extra four seconds that ultimately determined the outcome of the Regatta. We finished with eight points and dropped a 2​nd​, ​while ​Liquid and Scarlet Oyster tied at ten and ​the ​tie breaker went to Liquid. 

The awards ceremony is a very big event on a huge stage. The whole community comes out​​ to see us, or maybe it was the headlining act, the Jackson​s, yes,​ the famous ​Motown​ rock ​legends​. They were fabulous and it certainly capped of a great day and ​night. 

CSA racing is very tight and each fleet was closely contested​. ​CSA 3 is a fantastic fleet and regatta after regatta the competition is tight and spirited. We look forward to the remaining events of the winter with St Thomas International Regatta, followed by BVI Spring, then Voile St Bart​​h​s and ​we ​finish with Antigua Race Week.  

I’d like to thank Rob Butler for making all​ of​ this happen​. Just to note, Rob’s kind and generous nature goes far beyond sailing. At every regatta, Rob donates $500 for a series win and $100 for each race won to Breast Cancer Research. Just another way to motivate the crew to work hard. W​e have 30 unique crew that fill out the roster to do all six events and everyone brings sunshine and happiness to the program. 
 
I hope there is another chance to write​​ about such a positive outcome but either way, there really is nothing better than winter racing in the Caribbean.

- Larry Huibers, St Catherines, ON

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