A glorious day in paradise. Perfect temperature, beautiful blue-green water, and flying on the pries of the Abaco Rage, a Class A traditional wooden Bahamian racing sloop.
Rage was built on the next island north – Man O’ War Cay, where they have been building boats for decades. Rage has no winches, hydraulics, or electronics. She is pure people power. The crew’s weight supplies the ballast to keep Rage balanced. We climb out onto planks of wood 2” x 10’, called “pries,” to keep the boat heeled at just the right angle to go fast. Goldwin and I are on the forward prie.
This was the second in a two race series sponsored by the Hope Town Sailing Club for local cruising boats. The starting line was short – a dozen boats competing for a spot. Lots of boats were early, clotted together, letting out their sails to depower and slow down.
The people who skipper Rage are masters at starting a race. They snaked up to the line in slow motion until one and a half minutes before the start, then pulled in her massive mainsail and powered up. We were at full speed as we overtook the stalled fleet at the line. We could have run over a J 24; instead we ducked below it and headed up, forcing the J boat up as well. (The J 24 is the boat with a dark gray headsail and the half naked skipper.)
She wasn’t ready, her headsail out, still trying to depower to keep from crossing the line early. I was on the forward prie, but slid in just before the prie and the J’s backstay collided.
Lightly. No damage.
Then we were in clean air, moving as well as a big heavy boat can move to windward. But we smoke off the wind. On the downwind leg, we watched the boats ahead sail wing-on-wing.
As we slowly caught them.
Here we are, wing-on-wing, downwind. B, our foredeck genius, is demonstrating a carefully developed go-fast technique to keep the sail flat.
Or maybe his back just hurt.
I love riding the pries. It’s the best seat in the house – or on the water. I’m leaning out on the foremost prie and Goldwin is sitting just to my left and below me.
Is this fun or what?
Here’s Goldwin, being ballast.
Because the winds were light, tacking was easier – slower. Not the frantic, chaotic frenzy it is in heavy weather. Here we are, the prie riders, crawling across the deck of Rage in unison to climb out the pries on the other side of the boat. I’m on the right, wearing long black pants.
In fact, everyone wanted my pants. New to me, purchased at Annapolis Performance Sailing and made by Gill, they are stretchy and water resistant with non-skid padding in the knees and bottom for comfort and to protect my ultra-feminine sensitive skin from abrasions and bruises.
It was a perfect day for a race and we had a blast.
Here we are at the finish line.
The races from Wednesday and Friday were combined and Rage took a third. But mostly, we had fun, great fun.
One of those days I hope I remember when dementia takes over.