6 September 2016
Rolex Maxi Cup, Porto Cervo, Italy
We won our first race. Simple as that. Surprised? You better believe it. But not as in we didn’t have the boat or the team to win. But more, we bought a boat two weeks ago, most of our team has never sailed a maxi (ok, mini maxi but it seems damn big to me), let alone competed in one at this level and winning wasn’t on the table. Yet we won. You can check out the results here:
I won’t spend a lot of time with the blow by blow of the race both because it’s boring and for me as the driver, I barely look around so I have little idea about how we actually did it. The course was a “coastal race” up and around one of the beautiful islands just off Porto Cervo. The day started off windy, with a pretty big lumpy sea and just getting off the dock was an absolute mission.
Getting out to the racecourse, we were a bit late and we did a few race tacks and then rolled right into the sequence. Larry had the course dialed in and Peter Isler calmly talked us onto the line with a terrific start. Head down, we sailed the first upwind leg focusing on boat speed and staying ahead of the competition. We rounded the weather mark in first place, set the chute and never looked back.
The course was stunningly beautiful as we wound through the islands and narrow channels passing boats that started in front of us. While the scenery was gorgeous, the navigation is a challenge. And one Larry was up to even as we passed rocks that felt like we could just reach out and touch. Such is sailing in the Med. Despite a few ragged practice days (to be expected in a boat like this, with a new team), the boys got it done as we made each turn amid the controlled mayhem of sail changes and chute sets and douses. Everyone was terrific.
Prospector is a super fast boat and an absolutely unbelievably great platform. But she is a man-eater when the wind is up. Eight guys grind up the spinnaker. You can’t hear yourself think when sheets are being eased. Literally every job is hard work. Ok…my job isn’t that hard…but I pretend it is. So it’s exhausting, particularly the first race but the smiles and satisfaction of winning are worth it.
To say we are less than cocky about winning our first race is a massive understatement. It wasn’t luck. We sailed a good race in a great boat but we know we have a ton of work ahead. There are other great teams here and we know that repeating the Cinderella story of our first race is a tall order. We are here to learn and learn we are doing. We will do that first and let the results fall where they may.
I am sure by now you are wondering about the heading – Beverly Hillbillies. As some of us know who are a certain age, the Beverly Hillbillies was a great TV show about a family of hillbillies that moved to Beverly Hills. That’s us. We even have a cement pond at our crew house. This is the most unbelievable collection of yachts I have ever seen and one that couldn’t be replicated in the U.S. The yachts are huge, sleek and managed by crews in matching…well…everything. Among this fancy pants crowd is the Prospector team. Our boat is on the smaller side. Yes that’s right. We are tiny as compared to many of the teams here. I at least feel like at any moment someone is going to walk up and ask us “what are you doing here”? Yet they don’t. Just the opposite. Many folks have come up and said they know who we are and are glad to see us with a new boat.
Pretty heady stuff for some hillbillies from Shelter Island and while we might not fit in just yet, we won our first race and here we are.