Less than 24 hours after we’d tied up to our mooring in Hope Town harbor, we were aboard the Abaco Rage for Race Day. The Hope Town Sailing Club sponsors sailboat races every other Wednesday for all comers – old and new (the boats and their owners), racers and cruisers. This is the Abaco Rage.
She’s a Class A traditional, wooden Bahamian racing sloop with 28 feet on deck, a 38 foot boom and miles of sail. For this race, there were 18 aboard, the top limit set by the Race Committee. And we needed every one. About six people really know what they’re doing on Rage – very skillful – and the rest of us are ballast. We scooch ourselves across the deck and up and down the pries – ten foot long, wooden hiking boards – to keep Rage’s lee rail (edge of the boat) just out of the water.
Goldwin is in the yellow jacket and I’m on the first pries, wearing a Rage “11” t-shirt. It was blowing about 16-18 at the start of the race – a wet and wild ride. Enough to make you lock your ankles under the pries and hang on. Here, you can see white caps – evidence of building wind.
Even with a reef in the mainsail, the lee rail was in the water most of the time.
Out on the end of the pries, flying high over that gorgeous turquoise water – what a thrill. Did I mention that we were wet? Lots of waves and spray over the boat. Watch out Goldwin.
Good thing he has his foul weather jacket on. By the time we reached the first mark, the wind had built to 20 – it finally reached a steady 22 before the race ended. Rage’s skipper’s dropped out after the first leg, lowering the mainsail and returning to the harbor on just the jib. Sailing all the way up to Rage’s mooring. Rage was not built for such winds and had lots of newbies onboard. Plus, she has no engine, no winches, no hydraulics – just people power and a few blocks and cleats. It was the right decision.
So we didn’t finish the race, but what a ride. Exhilarating and fun. Always, but especially on the big wind days.
P.S. Every race is different. This race, with so many newbies on board, included a lot of frantic scrambling when a tack required us to all slither from one side of the boat to the other – under the boom (only a foot off the deck). A young teen ahead of me as we worked our way under the boom managed to kick me in the face – a first.