After the whirlwind events of the last 5 days, Joy and I just felt the need to collapse. We had a leisurely breakfast Saturday morning, talked to a few of the North Sails crew, and prepared to leave the Bitter End’s dock . Just before noon we pulled away and decided to wander around the harbor a bit looking for a spot to anchor, preferably one where we could still reach the WiFi signals. With forecasts for strong east to northeast winds, we chose a spot close to the shore of Prickly Pear Island, about as good as we could get. Most of the spots close to shore were taken so we dropped the Rocna in 45 feet of water, letting out lots of chain as we fell back to anchor. A few days later we jumped on a spot closer to shore in 20 feet of water, quite close to shore.
With no agenda other than watching for a weather window for the trip back to Sint Maarten, we laid back to carry out maintenance and repairs, the life of a cruiser in Paradise. There was no lack of activity and entertainment though; every day the BEYC held training courses for anyone wanting to learn how to sail, and there were always several Lasers, Optis, Hobies, and other craft flitting around the harbor. Weekends featured round the buoys racing for these small craft, and the course was set up just off our starboard side; good fun.
On the weekend of March 5, the Yacht Club Costa Smerelda (YCCS) hosted the Rolex Cup Swan Regatta. Most boats participating in the regatta were in excess of 75 feet overall with several topping 100 feet. We watched an interesting procedure for raising the Carbon Fiber racing sails on these huge yachts. The helmsman would back the yacht downwind across the harbor at a fairly high rate of speed as the crew hoisted the gigantic sails; often one crew was hauled to the top of the mast to assist in some way with raising the headsail. My best guess is that by backing downwind, the captain reduced the apparent wind across the sail thus creating less flogging and making the process of raising the huge sail much easier. The headsails utilize a hank-on furling system and once raised, the sail was furled until needed at the race start. These exotic sails have no UV protection cover, so down they came at the end of the racing with the process repeated every day for the 5 days of the regatta.
One of the 90 foot Swans seemed to have great difficulty raising its headsail, and on the second day of racing they came back in very early withdrawing from all subsequent races. What a huge disappointment that must have been. This event was held in one of the most gorgeous sailing spots in the world, but this regatta was not for the faint of heart. Winds howled at 20 to 25 knots most days with seas running 6 to 9 feet; robust conditions providing a solid test of sailing gear and crew ability.