Race 12 -Panama to Jamaica – 4 days

The start of the race up to Jamaica was closely contended with all the boats wanting to have a flyer and try to get some distance on other boats, given the shortness of the race.  I say short but it was still 4 days out at sea (about the same as the Sydney Hobart or the Fastnet so normal off-shore racing timings).  As this was a shorter race we changed a few of our routines, including ‘mother duty’ (where you have to cook for the crew), to ensure everyone gets the maximum time on-deck.  It did mean no big sleep but we could sleep soon enough when we got into Jamaica.  The weather was hot, hot, hot so most of the time on-deck when not doing an evolution (changing sails or trimming) were spend searching out that bit of shade.  You would then descend down below into the ’sweat box’ and try to sleep with as few clothing as you could get away with.  Only to wake in a pool of water and a damp mattress.  The fans provide a bit of relief.  I think next time I sail in hot climes, I will take a personal fan with me.

The sailing was full-on as we worked hard to hold our own with the rest of the fleet.

Henry Lloyd were pointing so much higher than we could ever get near (able to hold a higher course than us).  Talking to Eric Holden (their skipper) at the end of the race, he just put it down to their sail plan, holding their yankee 1 and full main for longer.  I’m not so sure!  The key tactical decision was when to tack (change course) so that we ensured we could get round the South East side of Jamaica.  It meant going on a tack which provided a negative VMG (Velocity Made Good – best speed and course to our destination).  A real nail biter as we watched ourself slip down the places on the scheds but hoping others would have to do the same to get round too.  We did have a close call with Derry when we first tacked and decided not to play ‘chicken’, although I admit I held our course a little longer just to see if they would panic a little (its all fair sport!).  Catching up with them in Jamaica, it did cause them some concern, enough to check that they did have ‘right of way’ with their skipper, Sean!  We made it round the island in one tack and our wishes were listened to as one by one each boat tacked to get round the end of the island.  We couldn’t rest on our laurels through to the finish as we tried to chase down the Swiss in 3rd place, being pursued by Old Pulteney.  My watch was on for the final run into the finish and we worked relentlessly to keep the boat at maximum speed.  The illusive podium remained illusive as the Swiss held on but we did take our second 4th in as many races.  I’m very proud of the way we worked together and there was definitely cause to celebrate in true Garmin style.

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