Getting the boats ready for the week of racing requires an immense amount of work, preparation, and race practice. Every day the Amazing Grace team worked on the boats, went out sailing, worked on the boats some more, getting them just perfect. Race practice brought the boats right up to our transom on many occasions as it seemed they chose Ocean Angel as a turning point for their trial horse racing. Of course, all the boats would race, but they practiced against each other, and we had a hard time deciding whether to cheer for Lady Muriel or Tida Wave, the A Class favorites, so we cheered for both as they practiced off our stern and on the 5 race days..
The forecast for much of the week of racing was light easterly winds, so the crews practiced as much as possible on light air days with the biggest sails they could fly. It didn’t seem that the boats could reef their mainsails, and they selected a sail to suit the wind. The rules require that the boats be built in the Bahamas and adhere to the original work boat ethic, and as I heard, most of the crew must also be Bahamian, although they are allowed to carry a certain number of “foreign” crew; just how many, I don’t know. On one of the practice days I was lounging in the cockpit, watching now and again, and in a slumbering moment I heard the sound of a boat wake, looked up and saw the two A Class boats right at our transom, unfortunately not in time to grab my camera. That would have been a great shot, and I missed it!
Lots of the boats arrived by freighter, some pulling in just the day before the racing was to start. Those arriving by freighter were at the mercy of the ships schedules, and a few barely made it in time to get their boats ready. Many were towed in from the nearby islands, but those coming from a distance such as from the Abacos, Mayguana, or Andros had little choice. It was hard to keep track of the 68 boats participating, A, B, and C Class sloops, all with a story or two to tell if you found time to sit and talk. But it sure was fun.