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What a trip! Bermuda is by far the best place I have ever sailed, clear, warm waters with a great mix of wind conditions. The country lives up to reputation, pink beaches and some of the friendliest people I have ever met. We were hosted by local sailors who made sure we were very well looked after.
The regatta was hosted at The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and Sponsored by Amlin. They did a fantastic job throughout the regatta. Cans of Dark and Stormy were always on hand. Plentiful servings of chicken, pasta, and entire roasted beef joints were freshly served to keep us fed. The staff were super friendly and always went above and beyond – thank you.
The sailors attending the event were labelled as the best in Europe, you cannot help but swell with pride being invited. Olympic Medallists, National Champions, European Champions and Team Oracle sailors filled the boat park. This event was full of big names.
The day I arrived was spent putting the Pony back together, this took the best part of the first day. The sun was out, the beers were cold and chat about how little sailing everyone had done kept us ashore.
The next day was my first day afloat for 2-3 months, what better way to start than in a stiff breeze and some bumpy swell. We bobbed out of the harbour and hooked a right. None of us had a clue to where the sailing area was, from the chat a shore “you just turn right” – what could possibly go wrong. Weaving through the islands you couldn’t help but feel uneasy, clear water at home means you’ve messed up and you’re about to hit the bottom. We finally make it to the sailing area, our jaws dropped! It looked like Stokes Bay on steroids. This lead to 30 minutes of swimming and attempting to squeeze every millimetre of gearing out of the boats. This was not what I was expecting, if it was to stay like this I would be in trouble! We sailed back in and had a play in the harbour, better not to break the boat on the first sail.
First race of the event and the wind had eased, the sun had popped out and the boat park was buzzing. It was looking like a glamour day. The race course had totally changed, a small amount of bumpy stuff but nothing that the pony couldn’t handle. I had 3 very good races 25th, 36th and a 30th. Considering I was expecting to be closer to 55, I was very happy. I came out of the first day placed 29th. A great start!
Boat park chat was all around the forecast, no one likes to see consistent high twenties and thirties on Windguru. A few brave souls had rigged and were half in wet suits, the rest of us drank coffee and ate bagels. The race was due to start at 11:00, I was convinced it would be canned. Come 10:45 I found myself rigged and persuading myself to launch. Thinking back to the first sail, I was dreading anything close to those conditions. I missed the first race but made the second. While waiting for the start, I sailed some runs to get the boat working well – I found the sweet spot! The pony was chewing through the swell and felt very comfortable. I sailed the second race and came out with a 23rd! I beat some big names in that race, just the confidence boost I needed. The Pony hit 29knts on the last run!
Perfect breeze predicated, however, this didn’t transpire. All boats launched and cruised out to the race course. The first race got underway. We had enough breeze to sail one lap, however, the race was shortly canned. A very frustrating sail home but greeted with more cans of Dark and Stormy – I love this place. We were held ashore with the chance of racing later that day. An hour later all racing was postponed – thank god! Perfect excuse to visit Team Oracles base for a guided tour, BONUS!
A cold and miserable day, apparently the weather does follow you. A good breeze forecast and three races held. LOTS of swimming all round today. Boats had to thread the needle at the bottom gate touching 30 knts, scary, but such a rush! Lots of touch and go moments, it paid to be ahead or just behind, you didn’t want to be crossing the gate in a pack! I came out with a 35th, 31st and 35th. Signs of sitting behind a desk were starting to show, I was aching!
Day 5 (Final day)
A nice light breeze forecast, this could go either way – I’m not the biggest fan of light breeze, as most will know. We bobbed out of the harbour and made our way to a not so promising race course. Just as I was losing hope, the boat popped up onto the foils and I was off. There was a very light breeze, but just enough to get foiling. A lot of sailors were suck to the water and others sailing some crazy angles. I came out with a 27th, 21st and a 31st.
I was very happy with my performance, I feel I could have climbed a few more places – maybe next time.
So to sum up. A fantastic regatta in THE best waters I’ve ever sailed, some great racing and unforgettable memories. Thank you to everyone that made it possible.
A special thanks to Kingfisher Yacht Ropes for their continued support and keeping the boat in top condition!
Matthew Lea 4043 (Sparkle Pony)