Like many of the first-timers here for the Tybee 500, we’ve had a rough couple of days. Despite relatively benign conditions, there have been plenty of gear breakages and even a few capsizes among the fleet due to unpreparedness and simply being overwhelmed and overtired by the huge amount of work required to compete in this race. We’ve had similar issues, and today took the cake. The photo boat generously lent to us by a Lauderdale Anarchist decided it didn’t want to plane, so the 6 miles to the course took us more than an hour, and we couldn’t follow the fleet for more than a mile or so. Since my trusty Sanyo camera’s batteries were destroyed, I used the big Canon miniDV camera to shoot the start. We managed to get some great action, including Jonathan Ferrar and Stan Schreyer’s capsize a few minutes in, but when we got to shore I found out that the camera had eaten the tape and the footage was, at least temporarily, lost. Most of you would crack up if you saw me at the boat ramp with a pile of flowing tape around my leg and a pencil stuck in the stupid DV tape, looking like a high school kid in 1987 trying to save the mix tape his “one true love” gave him after his boom box ripped it apart.
You see, we’ve now been at this OTW coverage for three solid years, and it’s taken that long to get relatively good at dealing with everything that webcasting in a marine environment throws at you. This, however, is not a marine environment – it’s the beach, and it presents an entirely new set of issues. First and most deadly to electronics is the ever present spray. On the water, there isn’t much spray at all – unless it’s blowing 20+ or you’re hauling ass, water stays pretty much where it is supposed to. But at the beach, in a place where it blows onshore, each wave sends a lovely package of aerosol-size spray toward the land, and most of it seems to end up in my camera. Or phone. Or computer…
The logistics of a moving race also adds challenges, but we’re finally getting a handle on them, and today we were able to get a bunch of great finishes on camera as well as some quality interviews and a great video of some of the incredibly sexy Team Velocity/Anarchy Challenge chicks. Tomorrow we may finally get the real flavor of a start, and with the forecast calling for more wind and sizeable swell by the finish, the action at Cocoa Beach should be epic. Thursday morning should be even better.
I finally had a chat with Race Director Chuck when he grabbed me to let me know how excited he was that SA was here for his event. After I explained my problems, he answered, “That’s the thing about the Tybee – right when you get in the groove, the race ends.” Hopefully, we’ll be a bit quicker than that.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the OTW thread for latest news and Mer’s great pics, as well as Sailing Anarchy TV for all the vids. You can also sign up for Tybee 500’s Twitter page, check out the official report right here, and see live tracking for some of the boats at this link.
Mischa Heemskerk’s Team Whike continues to lead the overall standings on time, with three more F-18s at the top of the leaderboard, despite Team Royal Yellow finishing first over the line for the second straight day. Trey Brown’s Velocity Sailing/Anarchy Challenge team was second to the beach today – hopefully a sign of things to come. Our great female hope, Carrie Howe, had a nasty day. Crew John Casey said, “We lost the gudgeon on a rudder, and figured we’d just trap out and flatten the boat to use the other one – until that one started getting wobbly too.” Casey and Howe headed to the beach to meet their shore crew, adding screws where they could to get back in the game – but that rudder broke too. They eventually made it to the finish in Jupiter hours after the fleet, but somehow, remained in good spirits before tackling a permanent repair. Tomorrow is Carrie’s birthday, and we’re expecting good things from this sexy, talented sailor chick. With more reaching tomorrow, the F-18s should do well, though a massive gumbo party might take some of the fleet’s motivation away. The official report from today is here.
All in all, the scene here is phenomenal, and nothing like you’d see at any other kind of race. Lots of young, fit sailors and their friends everywhere, more bikini-clad tits than I’ve seen in a decade of keelboat racing, great parties and hangouts, and a beach scene at the starts and finishes that is more Billabong than Helly Hanson. Put this one on your schedule for next year.