Itâ€™s been a slow morning here in Newport. Iâ€™m tired and relieved, my hands are sore and my joints are stiff, and Iâ€™m feeling a few assorted aches in places Iâ€™ve never felt them before, but put all that against the thrill of winning the Second Leg of the 2013 Atlantic Cup, and it all feels well worth it!
In case you hadnâ€™t heard, Matt Scharl and I aboard Bodacious Dream were first across the â€śJamestown FiSH Finish Lineâ€ť at 8:14 PM EDT last night. And boy, what a race … and what an incredible bunch of competitors!
Crossing the Jamestown FiSH Finish Line! (Photo by Billy Black)
The 14 of us have proven to be a absolutely tireless group of competitors on the water, and an equally dedicated group of friends off the water. Last night, after waiting on the dock for 45 minutes for all the boats to cross the finish line and tie up (Yes, all 7 boats finished the 240-mile course within 45 minutes!) – we all wandered over to a nearby restaurant for burgers and a round of friendly jabs and stories; a bunch of smiling, sleepy, squinty-eyed, wind-burnt faces all laughing about our lives!
A mighty toast was clearly in order for this crew! (Photo by Billy Black)
With a race as brief and intensely competitive as this one, you have to stay on yourself to run hard the whole time, so that when any opportunity to advance presents itself, you are right there to grab it!
In the early part of the race, on our way south along the Jersey Coast to the turn mark off of Barnegat’s Lighthouse, we kept ourselves busy trimming the sails, driving the boat and managing the course. Being in the lead at that mark only meant that we had to pay particularly close attention to where our competitors were heading, and so try to position ourself between them and the finish line, still some 200 miles away. This is not always as easy thing to do as it sounds.
Later that night, as we moved north, the rain grew heavier so that keeping track of the lights of our competitors, mixed in with those of commercial fishing boats, became a big challenge. We watched as three of the boats headed to the west and three stayed with us. When morning came, we saw that Gryphon Solo II had shifted across the racecourse and had captured the lead from us. At that point, weather conditions became more intense, as we tried to position ourselves relative to Gryphon Solo II, but also somewhere where other boats couldnâ€™t get past us. This kind of thinking doesnâ€™t sound completely rational I know, but protecting second place was important for us, as the scoring for this race is cumulative over three events, not just one. At the same time, we were keeping an eye out for any opportunity to recapture first place.
That opportunity came as we approached Block Island. The important decision to go either right or left around Block Island is always a tricky but crucial one.
Currents and wind shifts play a big roll in your decision-making process. For us, the decision was to once again try to protect second place. Once Gryphon Solo II telegraphed their course and their decision to go to the right (east) of Block Island – (which seasoned local sailors will most often do) – we choose to stay with three other boats and head west around the island. A number of factors lead to that decision; wind, current, tides and that repeated urge to preserve second place all played a part â€¦ not to mention the fact that I had incorrectly entered a navigational point into the GPS, which lead us down a wrong path for a while. In a race of this speed and distance, thereâ€™s no downtime â€¦ youâ€™re either ON it or your not.
Once we committed to our plan to head left of Block Island, the opportunity presented itself to take over the lead once again. We worked some Midwest hoodoo to slip past Lecoq Cuisine, and then proceeded to sail as fast and furious as we could towards the finish, hoping that Gryphon Solo II had lost some ground coming around the eastern side of Block Island. For an anxious hour or two, we sailed hard, scanning the misty rain for sight of Gryphon Solo II. When they finally emerged from out of the fog, it was to our right and in a position slightly behind us, at which point we knew we had first place in hand!
From there on, our first (and second!) order of business was simple enough â€¦ to keep going as fast as we could and to get to the finish line before anyone else. Just about an hour later, we entered the narrowing Narragansett Bay and crossed the finish line; exhausted, elated and excited at winning Leg Two of this incredible 2013 Atlantic Cup. This was also a repeat performance of our unexpected win last year! Matt and I are so very grateful for our great good fortune so far in the race.
Once again, two happy and pretty whomped fellas … (Photo by Billy Black)
We hope you enjoyed watching the race on the tracker or following the updates on Facebook â€¦ and that you managed to ride the excitement and uncertainty that the race provided with its ever-changing position changes and close finishes.
Today Monday is an official slow-way-down day. Weâ€™re heading down to the boat to do some sorting and cleaning … before meeting up with friends, finding a nice comfy chair and resuming our storytelling!
Taking a breather at the finish … (Photo by Billy Black)
A big thanks to everyone whoâ€™s been a part of this, including our sponsors Jamestown FiSH, The Earthwatch Institute, as well as The Atlantic Cup Race organizers and staff and the many race sponsors. Thanks to Elizabeth, our onboard media person, who kept you up-to-date with our progress and with photos. Also a major bushel of thanks to Mark Petrakis over at Firm Solutions, for managing our online activities and our social media. Mark is the magic hand behind all the news you get!
More recaps in the coming days, as well as updates on preparations for this weekend’s inshore racing leg. It’s not over yet!
For now though, thanks again to all of you!
- Matt, Dave & Bodacious Dream