"Are you racing" says one sailor to another at the after race party. "Oh no, I am only here for the party" is the response, as he steps up to the bar for a - or is that another - free Mount Gay rum punch.
And so it goes at what has to be one of the most casual sailing regatta is in the world, the Regatta Time in Abaco. With not one but two beverage sponsors — Mount Gay rum and Kalik beer — it's clearly a regatta that aims to have a good time.
And everyone does, but the racing is still spirited and competitive, although a couple of the classes might lead you to wonder. There is the multihull A, which is for trimarans with one, a Corsair 31 having a PHRF rating of -60! The multihull B class is catamarans, with a Catana 58 being the big boy here.
There's a PHRF and Regatta Time in Abaco class for rated boats, and for those who just want to get out there, there’s the Mother Tub A and B classes. In Mother Tub, “handicaps assigned by the Race Committee may be adjusted from race to race in an effort to afford all “Mother Tub” yachts an equal opportunity to win.”
How can you not enjoy a regatta like this? Free rum and beer, lots of free goodies, and everyone wins.
That's not to say that there's no competitiveness happening out there. Wayne Burdick, on Marion Maid, his Beneteau 411, was trying to figure out how a Hunter 35 was keeping up with him. Wayne is a serious sailor as befits a former CEO of Beneteau, North America.
Some crews, such as Jessie Jagoda’s, sailed up from the US East Coast to join the regatta, but the majority of vessels competing spent the winter and spring here.
This year there are 28 boats registered, far down from the 75+ boats of previous years, plus a few more following the fleet as I am doing. That's a reflection on how insurance regulations are affecting the sport in this area. Several friends of mine departed in mid June due to insurance concerns, despite wanting to stay for Regatta Time.
There are a total of four races, with two of them being point-to-point races to move the fleet through the islands. The fleet ends up in Green Turtle Cay for the final race, having started in Hope Town. Following the final race party, the sailors will then assemble for the famed Cheeseburger in Paradise party… Yet more free rum, beer and food.
I tell you, it's a tough grind, but I will be there to report back to you, including all race results… after I get one more rum.