MaughanNacra20 checks in after an exciting week as shore crew for Team Velocity’s Tybee 500 bid. Anarchists Trey Brown and Bailey White took Nacra 20 honors in a seriously close battle – just 8 minutes separated them from second place Royal Yellow after more than 500 miles and 38 hours on the water. Results are here and a big, juicy photo gallery is here.
I don’t remember being such a baby. After having sailed the Tybee 500 race 3 times – and now ground-crewing for it twice, I can honestly say that I don’t know which job is more exhausting. Taking care of the syndicate this week has been a daunting job, but I think we pulled it off without too much of a hitch – and it was enough to propel Team Velocity Sailing 1 to the top position in the Nacra 20 class of the Tybee 500. This year’s race will certainly loathed by the sailors for how it started, and loved for how it ended.
After the first day, there were more than just a few sailors who were doubting whether they would make it this year – last year’s champion Mischa Heemskerk amongst them. The brutal slog upwind for 90 miles in 15 knots building to 20 and an increasing swell made for some late finishes and more tired muscles. It was, however, the leg that gave Trey Brown and Bailey White on TVS 1 the leg up on Royal Yellow that they would be forced to defend for the rest of the race. That lead would shrink as the week wore on.
When the sailors emerged from the hotel lobby on the second day, they found that the ocean would take no pity on their tired muscles and strained psyches. Howling out of the east at 17 knots and gusting to 25+ with a 1.5m swell that claimed two boats off the start – the damage to boats started to accumulate. Fortunately for our team, murrays.com had supplied us with nearly all the spares we needed to keep all 4 core boats running and the 3 others we were supporting alive. The ground crews were working late both at Hollywood and Jupiter beaches, getting the boats in working order for the rest of the week.
This second leg was not without some very serious dangers for some Team Velocity boats. In the surf, both TVS2 and 3 were flipped, and pushed back to shore. TVS2 could not recover from their flip as the skipper was separated from his boat. All the parties floated back to shore safely where the damage was assessed and the decision was made to pull the plug for the blue boat for the rest of the leg. Meanwhile, TVS3 steamed on towards Jupiter Beach. Brett Robinson, a young law student from Atlanta, was skippering TVS3 from the wire when his trapeze ring failed. He fell into the water when the boat was at least a mile offshore.
Alan Friedman, his close friend and crew from St. Thomas, could not locate Brett in the water despite Brett using his whistle and all available mandated safety gear for the race. Alan tacked back to search for Brett in agony as he couldn’t find his friend. Meanwhile Brett had seen that his boat had sailed beyond his view, and activated his personal EPIRB. When he was found, he had his knife in his hand, and said something like "I’m dressed just like a seal!" Thankfully, this story had a happy ending, as Brett was reunited with his boat and crew and continued the leg to the finish. Alan was pretty distraught over the whole incident but was able to persevere.
On Wednesday, for the start of leg 3, apparently the divine powers in charge of the sea decided that the penance had been paid – and that the fleet would be blessed with ideal conditions. Spinnakers were finally able to be put to use as the breeze and the angle of the shoreline combined to give the boats the ability to fly off the beach under kite, and stay away from the hard, crunchy noises.
Going into the Daytona leg, TVS1’s lead was around 14 minutes over Royal Yellow in the Nacra 20 class. We had arrived at Daytona after following the fleet as close as possible as they rounded Cape Canaveral. The 3 mile boundary was of particular importance this year since the shuttle was scheduled to launch the very next day. All the teams pinged the spot tracking page – trying to figure out who was in front. As we arrived on the beach in Daytona, we could make out two spinnakers, a yellow and a white one. Royal Yellow and TVS1. For the next thirty minutes, both ground teams on shore tried to figure out who was in front as boats crossed each other, rolled each other, and gybed on each others’ lines. The tension on the beach was so palpable that you could reach out and poke it with a stick. As it played out TVS1 rolled Royal Yellow before the final gybe but couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity. Royal Yellow crossed the line 3 seconds ahead of TVS1. 3 Seconds. After going offshore 3 miles around the Cape and sailing over 80 miles. 3 Seconds is what separated the top N20’s. It wasn’t the only close finish of the week but it was the most dramatic. I’d like to go ahead and highlight those finishes for those America’s Cup monohull purists who think that multihulls can’t have close racing – just click here and skip to 3 minutes in (and yeah, I know I’m more annoying than Clean if that’s even possible…)
Going into Fernandina, the standings got closer in the N20 fleet – Royal Yellow once again finished in front of TVS1 – to the tune of about 4 minutes this time. It dropped TVS1’s overall lead to below 10 minutes and it setup a pretty epic showdown for the last leg. Those of us on the ground crew caravan were on our radios constantly bugging our lone iphone owner to tell us who was in the lead. The first boats on the horizon at Tybee Island were again yellow and white, and in the same order. As I video’d the finishes of yellow yellow, I was sure to stand by the race committee so I could get the official time. TVS1 finished about a minute after Royal Yellow, following their line into the beach and claiming the top N20 spot. As I walked up to Trey, I could sense his excitement in his eyes even through his trusty Barz optics, as he had gone from DFL the first year he raced, to the top boat. I man-hugged my good friend and then watched the action unfold in the F18 class.
The F18 class had been a showdown between team Bugaboo (Mischa Heemskerk and Eduard Zanen) on a brand new Hobie Wildcat (what a way to break in a new boat eh?) and Team AHPC (John Casey and Dalton Tebow) on a brand new Capricon C2 (what a way to break in a … ). Unfortunately, a halyard issue earlier in the week kept the competition from being as close as it was in the N20 class with Bugaboo claiming the top spot, and as Mischa kindly informed me, the corrected time win well. These two skippers are pretty close friends (Mischa’s father was ground crew for AHPC) and while Mr. Casey was certainly bummed, I don’t think that anything can wipe the perpetual smile off his face when he comes back from a great day on the water.
Until next year…