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February 22, 2013

With a two boat Melges 32 program, there are a lot of logistics and moving parts to ensure that both the Volpe and the Delta get to the starting line for the first race of the regatta.  Getting to the Islands is a project and requires planes, cars, ferries, and once the team makes it, several houses are needed on Virgin Gorda to provide lodging for all the sailors, shore crew, coaches and chefs. All in all, there are roughly 24 people that make up the Delta/Volpe program.

Luckily this group is made up of solid people who all get along, and it does feel a like a family when we get together to eat before and after racing. Just like any group there is a hierarchy, and I was reminded about this as the all important bed selection was made upon arrival.  When traveling there are a few unwritten rules, one of which is the best beds go to your elders.  Being assigned to a house with the tacticians and trimmers, I am the youngest of the house at age 32 and as I surveyed the beds at the lovely Anniversary House, I found they were all claimed until I saw a lonely cot tucked away in the corner of Jonathan McKee’s master suite.  After a double check to confirm my sleeping arrangement, I set my bags down, gave my bed a test and confirmed that this mattress was most likely first used by a pirate when Virgin Gorda was discovered over 500 yrs ago.

With a little improvising, I moved the mattress onto the floor of the main living quarters, set up some pillows, laid down a few towels to help soften the protruding springs, and now have a nice little Jr Suite.  Unlike the other bedrooms, the main living area does not have any AC which allows me to open the huge windows and enjoy the nice Caribbean trade winds and to become one with moths the size of small birds, and mosquitoes which make their relatives during a Minnesota summer seem docile.  I sleep well knowing I will not be the youngest forever, and that if some young kid does not abide by the rules and tries to take a nicer bed from me, I will not take the matter lightly.

The sailing up to this point has been truly awesome and you can’t help but be a bit awestruck to have the opportunity to race in such a cool location.  Each morning we look out to see 15-22 kts out of the east and with the option of racing either outside or inside the North Sound of Virgin Gorda, both locations provide a dramatic setting, with hilly islands, beaches, palm trees and rest of the BVI’s in the backdrop.  It was a lot of work for all the owners to get their programs here, but for those who made the effort it has been well worth it.

The first day of racing was on the outside course, and the weather mark was placed a short distance in the lee of Necker Island, providing plenty of shifts on the race course.  The fleet is small with only 9 boats, but each team is pretty stacked and there are very few lengths between the front and the back, making every tactical and boathandling move critical.  We had good pace on the Volpe all day, and while we took a bullet in race 2, we needed to sail cleaner in race 1 and 3 to crack into the top 3, and some improvements are needed on our downwind mode as we tended to be a bit higher and same speed with the boats around us.

It sounds like the intention is to sail inside the North Sound on Day 2 which will be a full on street fight as there is not much room and with a small, competitive fleet, you can go from hero to zero in a blink.  With the breeze funneling over and through the gaps of the eastern portion of Virgin Gorda, there will be plenty of passing lanes with big shifts and changes in pressure.  Day 2 will be another day of racing in paradise and there are some great photos from Day 1Results.


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