I had never experienced preparing a boat for a race and then waving goodbye as it sailed over the horizon until the start of the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race. Having taken over as boat captain just about a month before the race start I had a jobs list of over 150 items to work through and a mini refit to manage to get the boat in good shape for the start. Thanks to the cat three ruling whereby only two pro sailors are allowed on board and even then they cannot drive, I had to sit this one out. Our usual race crew were replaced with the cat one crew who are a fine group of sailors and far from ‘amateur’. So despite losing the prop just a few days before the start, come the morning of the 49th edition of the Bermuda Race the atmosphere was calm. Arriving early at the boat the shore team had everything prepped to go before the race team arrived, the sun was shining and the forecast light. Thankfully there was some breeze around as by this stage those of us staying ashore had already planned the party we were going to have once the race got underway. We cheered the team over the start line with dark and stormy drinks in our hands and then as they began their slow ride to Bermuda, we headed to Boston for the slightly quicker route, a plane.
Not being a part of the race I can’t comment on what life on board was actually like but I have it on good word that it was easily as hot as racing in the Caribbean and probably more humid. With light winds, at times a lumpy sea state and a diversion to deal with when another yacht called for help, the crew were tested. After a disappointing attempt at the race in the previous edition, the team on Dorade were aiming to at least equal what Rod and Olin had accomplished by winning their class. It is a very difficult thing keeping your focus in fickle conditions over a number of days with position changes occurring frequently and every ounce of positivity being tested watching the boat speed rise and fall and occasionally give up all together. Sitting ashore we could tell when the mood was high and correspondingly low by the tone of the e mails coming out of the boat and for once I was almost pleased to be the one ashore. Except when I received news that the heads was no longer functioning thanks to a “blockage”.
We met them at the finish with cold beers and sandwiches which they seemed very pleased to see and consume. After being awarded the redress they were owed for their diversion, it is with great pleasure that I can write mission accomplished. After five days of racing the team won their class in IRC – class 2 of the St David’s Lighthouse division. Another huge milestone for the unstoppable racing machine that is Dorade.
Far from getting a rest though, Dorade is now steaming across the Atlantic Ocean on the back of the vessel Stadiongracht bound for Palma. It’s a quick trip of around 10 days so I am bound for the small island of Mallorca next week along with my nippers Nick and Tim ready to make her beautiful in time for our first event, the round Corsica Race at the end of August. It’s a non stop program from the minute we land I. The Med to arriving in Grenada in December after the RORC trans Atlantic race. This amount of racing would be impressive in a modern yacht but we are talking about an 85 year old here. Matt Brooks is not afraid to lay down a challenge and Dorade seems willing to accept!