Designer Merfyn Owen sends this report from the world famous Figawi..
“You haven’t done a Figawi?” Said in the form of an accusation and with some incredulity is something I’d heard literally dozens of times on my regular visits since first coming to New England as a BOC Race project manager in 1994. So, when a good friend of mine from those days, Dave Alexander who was staying with me prior to the Vendee Globe start offered me a house to stay in for the Boston Volvo stopover and a crew spot on the Figawi, I finally said: ‘oui’.
What is the Figawi? There have to be many sailors in North America who haven’t done it and there may be one or two who have never ever heard of it. For the benefit of those few and I suspect just about every Sailing Anarchy reader outside the US who doesn’t know I will give you a limey sailor’s take on it.
The Figawi is a yacht race, a pursuit race with staggered starts run on the Memorial Day holiday weekend from Hyannis on Cape Cod, Massachusetts to the offshore island of Nantucket. Like many holiday weekend sailing events around the world, a good deal of emphasis of the event is about the social calendar as much as the racing. This is probably what kept me away. Don’t get me wrong, I take my racing seriously, but I’m not anal about it. I enjoy a beer, a six pack or more afterwards but the way my work has panned out it hasn’t left me with much time to do truly recreational racing. I tend to be there to do a job or at least I’m there because of my profession and so I tend to be on good behaviour. As much as anything I don’t have much time spare or the incentive to do a Cowes Week or Dartmouth Regatta as I did when I was a kid. Given the choice with the time available you can understand that I’m going to opt to travel to more glamorous destinations like St Tropez, Antigua and Melbourne. However, I was going to be in the US working for seven weeks and so if I ever I was going to be able to turn round and reply –“yeah, I survived Figawi”, then this would be a good year.