ANTIGUAN SAILOR TO PARTICIPATE IN TRADITIONAL ROUND GUADELOUPE RACEMonday 30th June 2014
Antiguan keel boat sailor Bernie Even-Wong has been invited by the Comite Guadeloupeen de Voiles Traditionelle to participate in the Traditional Round Guadeloupe Race from July 4-12 in traditional Guadeloupian boats similar to canoes with over-sized sails. The Comite is sponsoring Bernie and his crew in order to make participation possible with the objective of encouraging more inter-island participation in sailing events between English and French-speaking islands. Part of the sponsorship includes providing a traditional boat for Bernie and crew to practice in prior to the regatta. None of them have sailed a traditional boat in the past so it has been quite an experience.
Bernie tells the story of his preparation for the event on June 24:
'Well it’s been a long hard road. I finally tracked down the boat got it moved to Woodstock [Boat Builders], got the necessary work done, as all wooden boats need constant work doing. It was a job to find all the parts; one sail was still at Antigua Yacht Club; the tiller and whisker pole are still missing.
Anyway after having it moved again by forklift and truck to National Sailing Academy about 10 days ago we finally got three crew together. It was real scary, as if you don't hold it up, especially with the rig up, it just topples over and sinks!
Somehow I managed to sail her over to the Yacht Club area and back without sinking - really scary stuff as it was also a gusty day.
We then got five crew out on her and managed to sail round the harbour about three times without swamping or sinking, and that folks is as far as we have reached!
Today Andrew Robinson dropped out due to work commitments and Francis [of Guadeloupe] is hustling me to send names and passport copies of the crew. I explained it was a bit difficult as I don't yet know who is coming!
I think I see why the other Antigua team dropped out last year. The thought of sailing out in open water and big waves is somewhat daunting! Anyway I am still trying to call at least two more practices before we leave next week! No GPS is allowed but is an EPIRB?
The race is out in open water to Marie Galante and Les Saintes, and on some lee shores so will no doubt be very interesting. As usual I am keeping an open mind about the whole affair and hope we can pull it off without too much embarrassment!
I think the term 'canoe', as they call them in Guadeloupe, is very fitting.
Oh all the 'rock stars' of the National Sailing Academy and Antigua Yacht Club are all busy with BVI, Laser racing etc. to come with us so our average crew age is about 55 years old - not good for jumping in and out of boat to bail her out at sea when she swamps!
Perhaps there is a seniors’ or geriatric class in the event? Will keep you posted.'
Update later that night: 'I think I now have a crew in number anyway - just have to master handling of these weird boats really quickly. Had a good hour practice this evening.'
For more information on the Traditional Round Guadeloupe Race click here.
We wish Bernie and crew every success in the Traditional Round Guadeloupe Race.
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