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The Sir Francis Drake Channel was replete with sails of every size during the first weekend of April. The smaller sails of windsurfers, Squibs and IC-24s raced closer to shore while the bigger guys, including Sir Richard Branson’s 105-foot catamaran Necker Belle, raced courses around Norman, Dead Chest, Flanagan, Peter, Salt and other islands strewn about the Channel.
On the water at various times were members of the aLookingGlass team. Colin Rathbun skippered LIME on the IC-24 circuit, taking third place. Owen Waters won the windsurfing class. Nick Cunha, Dan O’Connor and I sailed on Rascal, Adrian Sinton’s Cal 40 which also happens to be his home, in the Jib and Main B class.    


While Colin may not have won his class this year, he won the admiration and appreciation of the other IC-24 sailors by altering one of the racecourses. “Last year, we did 21 races, and everybody got a little bit sick of it at the end, so I spoke to [Spring Regatta Chairman] Bob Phillips on Monday and asked if we could do something different—a long race. Not everybody wanted to do it at first; they wanted to keep doing windward-leeward, but after the first day of eight races in the same spot, everybody agreed,” Colin said. “So, we raced to the Willy-T.” The whole fleet sailed to the infamous floating bar and restaurant, had lunch, possibly tossed back a few Painkillers, then raced back. “It was a great success,” Colin said. “Everybody loved it.”
On the slightly more sober windsurfing side of things, Owen said he found the course design extremely challenging. “It’s on par with international racing events in that you have to get out to a start line, complete the racing, then sail back to shore. Add 100 boats to that, and it’s 100 times the wind shadow and 100 times the messy water,” he said. “You’re manoeuvring and dodging a lot more than you normally would do.” He was also excited about the wind conditions, which he said aren’t always that reliable at the Spring Regatta. “There was wind between 15 and 18 knots on both days. When you sail in those conditions, you’ve got to think on your feet.” Of his victory in the event, Owen said, “It’s their 40th anniversary, and I’m 40, and I kick ass.”


In Jib and Main B, aboard Rascal, Nick Cunha’s position was trimming the main; I was rail fluff for two days; and Dan served an important role as spray collector—sitting on the uppermost position of the rail and getting soaked by saltwater—on day one. He also maybe got a little seasick and a little sunburnt. “My legs are coming back to normal colour. They were purple,” he said. After his soaking, sickening, sunburnt first day on the water, Dan decided to take a break from sailing. “I feel that I let the team down, but it seems they came up with some great replacements, apparently with stomachs of steel.” He added, “This year, I preferred being off the water as opposed to being on it. Instead, I enjoyed the event itself—the parties and bartending with my friends.”
Nick appreciated the opportunity to sail on a bigger boat after spending the prior weeks aboard LIME at the Rolex Regatta and the Gill BVI National Match Racing Championship. “It was more challenging on estimating time when you’re not racing boats that are all the same design. It was cool sailing a classic as well, the Cal 40.” He found the different courses pleasurable, as well. “It was fun to have the start line in the middle of the Channel. On an IC, we would never be able to sail around Cooper and Peter then Dead Chest and Flanagan in the same day.” He added, “A bigger boat means bigger courses and long-term tactics, and fewer races mean a smaller margin of error.” Rascal was doing pretty well the first day, scoring a four and a three, then on the first race of the second day, we scored second place. After that race, we had some lunch and sailed around the Channel a bit, waiting for the race to be called on the radio. Well, we missed the start and ended up crossing the line about fifteen minutes after all the other boats in our class, starting instead among the bareboats. We somehow still passed five other yachts in our class and ended up in tenth that day, but that score certainly ruined our chances of getting on the podium. On the sole race the next day, Adrian and his crew scored a two, ultimately earning Rascal fourth place in its class.
My position on the boat, rail fluff, didn’t exactly make use of the sailing skills I’ve been recently acquiring, but I did hike out when I was told, and my boobs and butt added plenty of ballast. I agree with Nick’s assessment of the course layout—I’d never been around the south side of Flanagan, and I’d forgotten how stunning the water looked when crashing over the rocks near Dead Chest and behind Norman. As far as my sailing lessons go, I learned about barber hauling and a few racing rules. Adrian was a cool-headed skipper, only yelling once when we were being edged into the rocks by another boat that wouldn’t give way. “This is my house,” he shouted. So now I think I want a house that races, too. Maybe by next year’s Spring Regatta… 


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