This year the Rolex Regatta was hosted by Rochester Yacht Club, NY, from 7 – 10 October 2009. The Yacht Club is situated on the Genesee River off Lake Ontario. The team consisted of Saskia Butcher on the bow, Louise Meek on the jib and halyards, Tiffany Baring-Gould on Kite and tactics and myself, Dominique Provoyeur on the helm.
We arrived at the regatta site 3 days early to get acclimatised and also to do our first and only bit of training together. The main reason for lack of training is that Tiffany is South African but now lives in UK and Louise lives in Johannesburg. I did sail with Saskia in August, when we both crewed on the all-woman’s Lipton Cup Team, Slayley.
We were, however, very fortunate to get good weather for all 3 of our training days, and could therefore get real benefit from our time on the water. I was the only one who had sailed with all 3 crew members on previous occasions, so we really had to make the extra effort to work hard on communicating all manoeuvres. By the time the racing began, we were pretty comfortable with what we all needed to do on the boat, so it just came down to how well we jelled on the race course.
The first and third day of racing was cancelled due to either too much wind or too little wind, which was a little frustrating since we had all travelled from around the world to be there to race. But such is this game that we play, and all part of one’s ability to focus, relax and be able to refocus with as much determination as ever before.
All in all we had 6 good races, 3 a day. The first day of racing was in 3 – 10 knots, flat seas with the breeze coming off the land, which made it very shifty and gusty. It was imperative to keep one’s eyes out of the boat, and really be aware of the whole race course, there didn’t seem to be any timed oscillations, so it was a matter of getting to the puffs as quick as you could or gybing for the fingers coming down the course.
The second day, the weather was completely different, 12 – 18 knots with a very confused sea state. Before the first race, calls of ‘man overboard’ were coming over the radio and some boats even returned to the harbour. The wind actually dropped off a bit and was more towards 15knots by the time racing got underway and with the big waves, we were actually searching for more power to get through them. Having said that we probably could have gone even softer on the rig, it probably would have help us, punch through a bit better. Hindsight is beautiful.
We ended the regatta with 2, 2, 4, 8, 9, 10 and with three boats on a count out for 3rd. We lost on one and won one putting us in 4th overall out of 35 teams. The fact that we got all of our results in the top 10 was pleasing to me, as this shows that we kept calm even when things were not all favourable and worked ourselves back into the race and once we were in the top 5 we were comfortably able to stay there.
In general, I was extremely happy with the communications on the boat, each team member was calling their duties with confidence and without hesitation. We did struggle a bit with boat handling, but this could be expected due to the fact that we had a chartered boat, and the set up was slightly different to what we are used too.
This was our first regatta as a team, and if one thing stands out is that we will all jump at the chance to sail together anytime. In fact we are at present planning to either go to Miami or Sydney for a month or two in 2010.