This year’s race event budget was somewhere around $250,000.00; that’s a lot of cash, folks, and the event showed it. There are cash prizes for the winners, events galore all week long, and fun for all, including all the local kids. There are three classes, A, B, and C, with the A class being the largest, the fastest, and the most difficult to control. Those boats are 28 feet long and carry a huge amount of sail for their size. The booms are up to 30 feet long, and the masts are limited to 60 feet, they say. That makes for an almost 900 sq. ft. mainsail. It appeared that the boats would carry a main appropriate for the predicted wind strength, and if they misjudged, the crew really had their hands full. Several boats sunk over the course of the week and had to be re-floated. That process was interesting to watch. After all the preparations, the races were ready to run. The race starts were unusual to me in that all boats anchor behind the start line with their anchor lines leading well out to windward of the line. Here you see them off to the right ready for the start gun.
When the start gun sounds, the crews simultaneously haul up the anchor and raise the sails, fast, fast. faster. As with any sailboat racing, getting off to a good start is crucial to these round the buoys races, and the crew members who performed these two tasks were typically big burly guys. Those who got off flawlessly and on a favored tack often went on to win the race. In the photo below you can easily see which really had it together for this start. Once the sails are up, the boats accelerate rapidly, and as the race heats up, there’s lots of shouting and pointing at each other. Mark roundings were a crowded affair because all the boats are very similar in speed potential. Those boats that were well handled were always together at the turns vying for position.