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Regatta with LIME

Outside the Fat Turtle restaurant in St Thomas’s Yacht Haven Grande, megayachts loomed, each hulking over the next. Sitting under their glow, Fred Ruebeck and I discussed a much different boat, his IC24, LIME, which had just taken first place in the Puerto Rico Heineken International Regatta and second place in the Rolex Regatta. Fred said that he bought an IC24 because “it was a boat that could go two ways—a daysailer or a racer.” He wanted to learn to race, and he wanted to race with Colin Rathbun. “I met Colin a few years ago at the [Royal BVI] Yacht Club after he’d won the Nation’s Cup,” Fred said. His wife suggested that he ask Colin to captain LIME. “It’s been a great team because he brought along a great crew. We enjoy sailing together, and, thanks to Colin’s leadership, we are very disciplined,” said Fred. “He has a great sense of what needs to be done.”

While winning is always Colin’s goal, he’s not overly aggressive. “He can be an aggressive driver, but he’s mostly a calm, collected, conservative driver. It’s all about consistency,” said Nick Cunha, LIME’s upwind tactician. LIME proved that consistency worked at the Puerto Rico Heineken International Regatta where they scored ten first-place results out of ten races. “What was weird was that we kept winning and nobody was converging with us,” Nick said. “Nobody was making us do anything differently, so we kept doing the same thing—having a good start and covering. It’s much easier to cover five or six boats than fifteen. When we got ahead, it was pretty difficult for someone to pass us. It wasn’t like we sailed amazingly. It was just consistency.”

The LIME crew works together at BVI Spring Regatta. Photos by Todd VanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta.

At the Rolex Regatta in St Thomas, LIME was not as consistent, with a tenth place in the first race and another in the penultimate race, but they still earned second overall. “The first race was a long downwind,” Nick said. “If you get on the wrong side once or twice, you’ll find yourself at the back. For the first two-thirds of that race, we were in the top three, and we tried to get clear air because we were being covered by so many boats, so we sailed outside where we should’ve been, and boats passed us inside.” The second-to-last race tactics were more a testimony to Colin’s occasional aggressive driving. “It was coming to the point when we thought our second was going to hold, so we tried to push the envelope and started playing with Fraito [Lugo on Orion, who was in first place] a little bit. On our prestart, we decided it was going to be more of a match race between us and him, and we pushed him and four other boats over early, including ourselves. Had we not been over early as well, it probably would’ve panned out more like we expected it to.”

For BVI Spring Regatta, LIME’s results were consistent again. Until the last race. “We were neck and neck with Fraito the whole time,” Colin said. In fact, LIME had more first place finishes than Lugo’s Orion. “I don’t think we ever got more than five points away from each other. We went into the last race three points ahead, so we had it all pretty much sewn up because he hadn’t beaten us by that much of a spread in any of the other twenty races,” said Colin. LIME stayed in front of Orion for most of the race. “We even put a few boats between us and him,” Colin declared. But after the first downwind leg, “there was a massive wind shift. We ended up having to go wide of another boat into no air, and then three or four boats—what felt like a million boats—passed us.” LIME took their lowest score of the regatta, a six, on the last race, and Orion took second, winning them the class. “We like to race against Fraito,” Nick said, “because he’s at the level that we’d like to be.”

Lime in the lead. Photos by Todd VanSickle/BVI Spring Regatta.

Nick also mentioned how much he enjoyed participating in the 2009 Carlos Aguilar Match Race in St Thomas. “It was the first time we’d match raced against people other than here in the BVI,” Nick said. “It’s a bit edgier and more exciting. Match racing is like the drag race whereas fleet racing is more like a horse race.” Colin concurs. “Match racing is awesome. The unfortunate part of it is that there’s not a lot going on here in the BVI.” Colin said that he hopes to change that fact. First, by encouraging increased attendance at the match races that already exist in the BVI. “I’d like to spearhead the Pete Shiels Match Race in October. It’s been self-umpired in the past, which is okay, but to try and have an event and an entry fee, you need to have umpires, and they all love coming here, so that’s easy.” Additionally, Colin plans on honing his match racing skills at Dave Perry’s sailing clinic this month.

At BVI Spring Regatta, Team LIME looked happy up on the podium with their second place. They were clearly overjoyed to be together, and it was obvious that Colin values each of his crew. “I’ve been sailing with Nick for four or five years. We sail really well together, and we just know each other. If I start looking around, he’s like, ‘Just focus and drive, Colin, drive.’” The newest member of the team is sixteen-year-old Chris Brockbank. “He’s got a natural balance that makes him glued to the foredeck,” said Colin, “which means that you can do crazy manoeuvres and not have to worry about him falling off.” A past member of LIME returned from Wisconsin for this year’s regatta season. “Matt Younkle came back for Puerto Rico, Rolex and BVI. He’s a really great guy. Smart, organized and a great sailor. He’ll spot a lot of issues going on.” Fred also praised the team. “I’d be nowhere without them,” he said proudly. “I’d just be another guy.”

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“Fred’s great crew,” Colin said, “because he’s always happy and relaxed and enjoying himself. That’s really the key. You see a lot of crews out there—and we’ve done it at times as well—you go out there, and the competition takes over too much of your fun. You gotta keep it something fun. Otherwise, it’s a job.”

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