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How fitting that one of SA’s favorite races should have not one but TWO great reports from this awesome race!  The first is from J. Ryan Parker aboard PHRF Overall champ Donnybrook, and the second from skiff super-stud (and All-American Offshore Team Member) Matty Noble aboard IRC Champ and Pineapple Cup recipient.  You can also take a look at the Facebook updates from the Jamaican team for some solid middle-of-the-pack news.  Oh – and check out the sweet tracker replay from Kattack to see why the winners won.

GENUINE RISK REPORT

It was a great race. Not much wind for us but that’s what the boat likes. At the start it was between 12 and 15 kts reaching. The very narrow GR had a hard time keeping up with the more beamy powerful boats like Beau Geste and Rambler 100 (who managed to put 65 miles on us in two days).

That night the wind went light and forward. For the next day and a half we were switching between the jib top and medium jib until we inched around Cuba, set the big kite and really started making gains.

Around Noon on day four we saw Rambler way off in the distance on the opposite jibe. They crossed fifty yards in front and jibed to leeward. For the next 30 minutes we had a bit of a line up, and were able to sail over the top of them and come down to their line. 8 kts of breeze helped that. The wind picked up for the last 10 or 15 miles of the race and Rambler took off again. In the end, we crossed the finish line 25 minutes behind Rambler 100.

We owe a lot to our navigator Peter Tans, who did a great job of always keeping us moving, never dropping under 8 kts of boat speed. The rest of the crew is awesome as well. We have a mix of Swedish, Kiwi, British, and American guys. Everyone on the boat worked very well together, which seems to be a good start to having a strong team

DONNYBROOK REPORT

OH!! What 24 hours can do to the psyche of offshore racing crews.  For the past week, my eighteen awesome colleagues and I aboard Donnybrook (USA66) have experienced the full spectrum of the possible rollercoaster. 

Our ride started Friday. Like riding to the top of that first crest of a rollercoaster track, the crew’s expectations built-up as boat preparations finished up, weather forecasts predicted untypical weather patterns not conducive to our Santa Cruz maxi sled’s design, and more of our Corinthian crew arrived.  Though the forecasts were bleak, our DB crew set out to the starting line with optimism that the race would bring us all the amazing bucket list experiences we know trade wind sailing can produce.

While milling about Fort Lauderdale Harbor on the way to the start line, it was hard to miss the unmistakable voice of Kings Point Foundation President Ralf Steitz as he boarded Genuine Risk.  Ralf and crowd’s efforts are amazing to get another maxi on the line with our sports future, our youth, on board.  I am supportive and a bit envious of the opportunities available to these KP rising stars to go up against the pros of RamSpeed/Speedler 100 and Beau Geste.

Under beautiful blue skies and 18-20 knots of wind, the Pineapple Cup got underway.  Being the scratch boat in PHRF, we put the pedal to metal in hopes of ensuring we could gain the time on our fleet and set our sights to chasing down as many of IRC fleet as possible.  As the sun set on our first night, we had pushed our steed hard and worked our way through to a point of having Vela Veloce and Bella Pita on the horizon forward and to leeward while Sjambok was riding a mile or so off on our weather hip.

As the days went on, the watch system fell nicely into place and we marched on hoping the forecasters would be wrong.  But that unfortunately seemed less and less possible as the winds dwindled to the point of being becalmed as Tuesday mid-day came upon us.  This put my morale at its lowest point as  discussions began of food/water rationing, weekend flight reservations possibly being missed, and worst of all, the possibility of not getting to enjoy copious amounts of rum in Jamaica.  But as we sat there searching for wind, it was great to hear a rumor that the young bucks of Genuine Risk had reeled back in a considerable deficit from Rambler100.

Then as night fell on Tuesday, the trade winds built and to the crew rejoiced, the boat speed rocketed as USA66 turned the corner at the eastern light of Cuba.  An adrenaline rush pulsed through the crew as we found the sled ride continue through the night and on through the next day.  Each watch bested the previous and pushed the boat harder and faster.  It was a Resounding HIGH for the crew as we closed in on Jamaica and the possibility of a nearly 300nm 24 hour run (288nm officially).  With the sun fading and miles to finish nearly to single digits, JC Raby steered the boat surfing down a wave to a top end of 19.8knots for the race.  What a highlight to the Pineapple Cup to watch the miles disappear so quickly during that awesome 24 hour run!

In the amazing hospitable fashion they are known for, USA66 was so graciously met on Wednesday night around 2100 at the dock by the membership of the Montego Bay YC.  And to the crew’s excited anticipation, there was immediate transfer of Red Stripe to the boat. 

As the rum and Red Stripe flowed over the coming days to celebrate our hard fought race and push to the finish, no one expect to be hit with another low.  As the trophy ceremony loomed on Friday; it was unfortunate to find out that though our amazing 24 hour run had ensured us class and fleet honors, we never had a chance of winning the Pineapple Cup.  The race committee had awarded the Pineapple Cup for “best corrected time” on Wednesday afternoon with only 5 out of 14 finishers across the line.  Having fought so hard, it was a bit gut wrenching to not even be considered for the Prestigious 50th Anniversary Pineapple Cup.  But with that being said, my hat is still off to young men of Genuine Risk and the well fought win.

From the pre-start chitters about a weather forecast that would kill us to the exhilarating feeling of getting off the starting line under a beautiful 18-20 knots of breeze, to the lowest of lows sailing through not one but two becalmed mid-day watches, to the OFF THE CHAIN HIGH of a 288nm downhill sled ride for the final 24 hours, to the gut wrenching low of finding out the overall Pineapple Cup was awarded before all yachts had finished, and finally the unexplainable good times enjoying Jamaica has to offer.  As the idiom says, “You must take the good with the bad” and I would not trade the experiences of the past week for anything.  Especially sitting in my cubicle back in DC.

It was such a pleasure to sail with the Donnybrook crew of Kurt Lowman, Will KeyWorth (Northsails), John Dodger, JC Raby, Peter Manikas, Andrew Manikas, Charles Imhoff, Chia Chang, Fred Osmer, Talbot Wilson, Keith Chipping, Dina Hickman, Gregory Petry, Craig Priniski, Randy Gray, Richard Michelle, Ed Paglee, and of course owner James Muldoon.