We’re part of a fleet of 30 boats – multihulls, cruisers, and cruiser/racers – headed across the Gulf of Mexico to Isla Mujeres Friday morning. It’s the 44th running of the Regata Del Sol Al Sol, which was one of ten regattas started (only four still remain) in the sixties to promote sailing between the US and Mexico.
Now, despite leaving from the somewhat opulent St. Petersburg Yacht Club, this ain’t no high falutin affair. It’s largely a cruising boat race with a couple of quick multihulls thrown in the mix – it’s so cruisey that the SPYC’s Sailing Instructions specifically prohibit using a satphone for doing anything related to weather – even downloading GRIBs – in the name of keeping costs down for the cruisers.
Along with a Farr 395 "No Limit" we’re the scratch boat – and I’m on Stu Hebb’s Aerodyne 38 "Thin Ice." Some scratch boats! The Farr has a barbecue on the back and 5.5 feet of draft – we’ve got a whole 6′ of keel and air conditioning.
But we’ve got an interesting forecast for sure – light and shite for the first day, building to a potentially monster of an Easterly by the time we get down to the meat of the Gulf Stream/Loop Current. The Rodger Marten designed Thin Ice loves the big stuff downwind – you might remember her famous Mo Bay race a few years back when she was on pace to take the overall PHRF victory when her rudder exploded and Hebb was rescued by the Jamaican Navy.
The boat is in tip top shape now and Hebb just finished a year-long and hard but unsuccessful run at getting the Canadian Star berth at the Olympics – so he’s got a chip on his shoulder. So he’s ready to win, but since I’m his navigator, probably not that smart!