Home > Journals > 2005: After the Vendée Globe
Ocean Planet update,
Sept 15, 2005
Sailing with a guest crew of enthusiastic supporters, everyone had great time this weekend at the 3rd annual Shipyard Cup Regatta based in Boothbay, Maine. Invited to attend by Regatta host Hodgdon Yachts, I was also thankful for mooring and launch services by Boothbay Harbor Shipyard. Other friends of Ocean Planet in attendance were Shipyard Brewery (Captn Eli’s!), and Portland Yacht Service’s Phin Sprague with his boat Lion’s Whelp.
I could tell you my own version of the weekend, but I don’t think that I could do better than young sailor Colin Santangelo (who was sponsored to sail on Ocean Planet by supporter Bill Replogle). Here is his story:
Little did I know when I visited the Sailing Anarchy website on August 17, 2005 what I would be getting into. As I scanned down the entries, I noticed one about the Monhegan race in Maine by Bruce Schwab, skipper of the Open 60 Ocean Planet. I read it avidly; Open class boats and offshore solo racing had long fascinated me. Towards the end of the entry, Bruce wrote that anyone interested in sailing with him on Ocean planet should e-mail him, followed by his e-mail address. I was amazed; this was my golden opportunity. I could learn about boat handling, sail trim, and rigging on a real ocean racer, as opposed to the J22s or Rhodes 19s I usually sailed.
I logged on to my e-mail faster than I ever have before and quickly shot off an enthusiastic e-mail. After checking my e-mail every ten minutes for five days I finally got a response – he would be taking people out on September 9 through September 11 at the Shipyard Cup in Maine. I didn’t have enough money to go along, but Bruce suggest that I find someone to sponsor me. Three days later, luck came to my side when Bruce wrote me back (to my great happiness) that he had a potential sponsor! I told Bruce I’d probably be able to go and then asked my parents (okay, okay, maybe I should’ve reversed that). My parents said they would drive me up to Boothbay Harbor for the Cup, but only for Saturday and Sunday (I couldn’t miss school on Friday or Monday). Although I was a little disappointed that I would miss the sail from Portland to Boothbay and back, it was still an unbelievable opportunity.
As we neared Boothbay Harbor on Friday night, my excitement grew and grew; I absolutely couldn’t wait. I went to sleep that night with, to paraphrase ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, visions of Open 60s dancing in my head. When I woke up Saturday morning, still tired after staying up to do homework so I could sail, I discovered that Ocean Planet was moored right in view of where I was staying. Even from afar, I could tell it was a fast boat.
At 10 AM, I made my way over to Sample’s Shipyard and met the other nine or so people I would be sailing with. Everyone was different, from the guys from Ireland to the UC-Irvine student, to the shipbuilder. We took a launch out to the boat, Bruce started the motor, and we were on our way.
When we were about a mile out, we turned into the wind and I got my first taste of how physically challenging the sail was going to be. It took five of us strapping (or so we thought) men to raise the mainsail three quarters of the way up (Don’t ask me how Bruce manages to do it by himself). We then had to grind it up the rest of the way, taking turns. We had yet to begin sailing and my arms were tired! With the mainsail up, we began to really move. As we meandered around before the start of the race, Bruce showed all of us the important parts of the boat and how to use them: the runners, which acted as backstays, the main sheet, I should say sheets as there were two, each going to its own dedicated winch, the jib sheets, the rotating mast, and, most new to me, the floating fairlead, which had the ability to be adjusted in three different planes, front and back, side to side, and up and down. Bruce also showed us the interior of the boat, including his control station, complete with screens showing every piece of data one could want, as well as a laptop with charts and weather. To say the least, I was stunned by the complexity of the boat. I also couldn’t wait to put it all in to use!
At 12:06 PM, the race, which would be a pursuit race with starts spread over an hour and a half period. We sailed around the line area with the jib up watching other boats start until around 12:50 PM, when we furled the jib in preparation to raise the masthead asymmetrical kite. Getting the spinnaker up on deck was in itself a chore; the bag felt more like a sack of lead than a “lightweight” spinnaker. We then raised it up in a snuffer, which was also new to me. My job was to hold the bottom of the kite until it was raised all the way and the sheets were attached. Although it was in a bag two feet wide, it still caught a lot of wind and I found myself struggling to keep it down. Luckily another person helped me hold it! By the time we got it up, out of the snuffer, and flying, the last of the mega-yachts, Captivity, had already started and was probably a mile ahead of us. We didn’t catch them, but we did pass nearly all of the other “official” racers by the finish, and hit speeds of 12 knots (in not much wind), the fastest I’ve ever gone on a sailboat.
Sailing is my greatest passion. Even though, I learned just three summers ago, it drew me in right away. While I am ecstatic to have something to be so passionate about and to work so hard at, I also feel a little behind the curve. Thus, I always look for opportunities to learn more about the sport and hobby of sailing. Sailing with Bruce Schwab was one of those opportunities and being able to do it really meant a lot to me. For this wonderful experience, I really must thank most of all Bill Replogle, who was generous to donate his own money to allow a young sailor to live a dream and sail with a legend. For a young sailor such as I, few things provide a greater learning experience or more great memories than being able to sail on such a unique boat with someone else who truly loves the sport. I urge all who love sailing to sponsor young sailors themselves, in order to open more people to this wonderful pastime.
Thanks Colin, all of us “adults” on board had a great time too!
Here’s a pic of Colin driving and some of our other happy crew:
I am really looking forward to having more young sailors like Colin (and adults, too!) sail with me on Ocean Planet. In fact, if any of you out there want to make it possible for someone like Colin to have this experience, please contact me. Remember, there isn’t much summer left in Maine! Also, if you would like to sponsor my multimedia show at a school or other venue, let me know.