The crew met early on Thirst to prep the boat and avoid any possible delays Annie and I headed to shore to chat with the race committee to try to convince them to schedule two races per day for the multihulls. Each additional race gives Thirst a better opportunity to place in her class. If there are 6 races in a 5 day race course, then each boat can throw out their worst score – which for us would be the day we did not start (DNS). The race committee heard our case and saw the benefits for all the mulithulls to have two races and created an extra race on day 3 and day 4-sweet! On race day 3 and 4 Thirst placed 2nd in her class once you combined the scores of both races. We were racing against a few other gun boats, Momentum, and a magnificent HH66 R-Six which Matt and I admired in the Heineken Regatta and St. Barth’s Bucket Regatta. R-Six had swept every single race with a 1st place win and even though we came close to beating her on corrected time on race day 4 we still came in 2nd.
Thirst under sail, captured by Tim Wright during Antigua Race Week
R-Six won first place in every race except the last one!
Momentum owned by Frederik Moe from Jamaica.
It was super exciting being on stage with this motley crew representing Thirst. We had this honor two different evenings where Seamus was awarded a pennant.
2nd Place Win in races 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Celebrating 50 was a theme for us – Matt’s 50th Bday and their 50th Anniversary.
WHAT’S IT LIKE RACING ON A GUN BOAT? You have to break it into two areas: Command Center and Bow. Command center is where all the decisions are made by the captain and tactician. They are monitoring the instruments, course, wind, waves, and competition. As Annie, the tactician instructs the captain where to sail, when to tack or jyb, and where other yachts are in our class. She is in continuous communication with the crew, the bow, and the captain. At each tack/jibe all trimming functions are handled by two wenches that are crammed into 8 square feet of space (along with the captain and helm station). They are in a constant motion and jockeying for space, wenches, grinding and releasing lines. They have to handle the lines for all 5 sails and the traveler on these two wenches. It was incredibly impressive to watch Eric grind for almost 5-6 consecutive hours – the man is a machine! With this complex system, you have to be in sync with each other or it won’t work and this crew did an amazing job!
Command Center w/ Seamus at helm, Eric top and Mike’s elbow.
Only in a Gun Boat. Boat speed 23.6 in 20.4 knots of wind! Our top speed was over 24.
Hoisting the main sail by hand to avoid over heating the hydraulics. Yep, it took 4 people pulling and 1 person grinding on the wench.
Working on the bow of a 55′ gun boat is an extreme sport (or at least it should be). Toby and Matt were drenched in water dozens of times, nearly launched off the boat a few times, and worked hard to the bone. The Code Zero and A2 had to have manpower to be set meaning the command center worked the lines, while the bow team raised and launched the sails. Guiding lines, hoisting socks, dousing sails, moving sail bags from port to starboard and back again, all while the boat is moving an average of 12 knots up and over waves. Try balancing on a net of a moving vessel, during a regatta where every second counts. You have to be part acrobat, part monkey, and part super hero muscle man and Matt and Toby did not disappoint! They were spectacular and worked in concert with the command center to push this yacht to her limits.
Matt preparing to change sails.
Toby and Matt assess next steps after the A2 was hoisted. Look at all the lines.
PROGRESSIVE DINNER: Amy had this great idea that we do a progressive dinner on all of our boats! We started with apps on El Gato, dinner on Thirst and desert on Sugar Shack celebrating Matt’s 50th with upside down cheesecake and blueberry spritzers. What a great group of people!
Dinner on the Sugar Shack with the Thirst crew.
Race day 5, was Cinco de Mateo, Matt’s 50th birthday and how exciting to be sailing on a Gun Boat 55 on the 50th Anniversary of the Antigua Race week. We were all eager to get on the course as this was our last race day. I had in my heart prayed for a win, not because winning is everything, but because it would be the best present I could give Matt. Everyone got into a grove and were accustomed to each other and the boat, and knew what we had to do to win this race. We crossed the finish line not knowing what the corrected time would be, but headed to our anchorage so we could do our debriefing and head to the final awards party. There was little time to shower and change, but before we headed to shore, we learned we had won the last race and came in 2nd overall in our class! Not bad for it’s first regatta with a new crew to boot!
Race Day 5 at the Awards Ceremony – celebrating our sponsor Sea Hawk!
The coveted 1st Place pennant and bottle of rum! Sweet celebrations to Matt and Seamus.
The Thirst crew receiving their 2nd place class award.
What did you say to Annie to make her laugh like that Eric?
They had a lot of metal on stage.
The Thirst crew wearing “Sea Hawk” shirts.
Matt and I enjoying the festivities.
Annie and I in our happy place!
Annie, Me, and Jennifer – so happy to have both of these fabulous ladies with me!
Be sure to check out Annie Gardner’s blog post at TradewindAdventures where she wrote about our adventures on Hotel California and Thirst.
- Time on a Gunboat
- Stage place