Newport to Bermuda 1-2, 2017 story by Brian Gray, Trouble No Trouble

Four mini’s raced in the 1-2 this year. Three of us met at Newport Shipyard a few days before the race to prep, plan and eat oysters. The fourth boat was already in Newport on a mooring.

Vernon Hultzer EYC Team Wichard #837

Tony Leigh Ct. #806

Marcus Cochran #571?

Me, Brian Gray EYC Trouble No Trouble #831.

Everyone's main concern before the start was the huge low pressure system that looked like bad weather was ahead. There was a lot of discussion about it with a general theme being "What is your limit? What is the forecast that makes you pull the plug and sit out the start of a race?" All of us, to a person, had been weather routing the course for at least two weeks. Interestingly, all the weather information was different. But the weather briefing at the skipper's meeting looked pretty good... kinda. If you took only one thing from the meeting it should have been "Do not be East of the rhumbline on Monday." Ok, so I heard it, but gosh, the wind was so nice over there...

Trouble No Trouble (TNT), left Narragansett Bay with a nice 20 knots breeze on the bow. We all beat our way out of the estuary crowded with pleasure craft, tourists and faux racing 12 meters. The wind switched back a bit to the port beam and up went the code zero. It was a pleasant two days, including an early arrival to a Gulf Stream I hadn't seen before: like it's usual own typical weather system, but the kindest and gentlest I had ever encountered. I made the best VMG of the class while crossing it. But alas, it was now Sunday, and the predicted storms were arriving and it was time to get west. My instinct said "get west" but, oh the wind was strong and it was on the beam, which meant literally sailing towards New York, not that little island south of me, so I hung on. Too long. The next three days were a bit like a visit from, well, Mike Tyson. Except it included being in a small cramped closet, in the dark, having Mike do the ice bucket challenge, while hitting me in the head with a forty pound two week old mackerel. TNT got a new stick, main and jib in the off season but all the busy prep didn't give me a chance to sail her in heavy weather. So this trial by fire meant beating into 30 plus knots with 10-15 fit seas, trying to find the proper reef combinations, dealing with significant water ingress from an open mast collar, and most importantly, not breaking stuff.

The cool thing about a mini is IT WON'T SINK. So what you do is sail your best, not break stuff, take your lumps in a little boat that doesn't point well and know the weather will eventually change. Mission accomplished. I got through the stuff ok with the other dozen skipper's that didn't heed the "Do not be east of the rhumbline on Monday" warning and reached into St. George's harbor on Thursday morning.

7 days, a bit longer than hoped for, but all-in-all, an acceptable finish for what turned out to be TNT's first heavy weather shake down.

Some interesting notes:

The storms were noted as "The worst in 25 years for the 1-2 solo leg". As you know, this was the same system that decimated the OSTAR this year. They may have been really bad, but not nearly as bad as the maelstrom my mini encountered in the A2B return the previous year.

The crowd at St. George's yacht club are probably the tightest group of sailors I've ever met. To a person, they are friendly, helpful and interested in your journey. They all are willing to help fix stuff and share equipment, thoughts and personal treasure without reserve. Someone said they are the best sailors in the world that no-one has heard of. They embody the Corinthian spirit of our sport.

My brand new $5000 fuel cell died a day out of Bermuda. Yes, the same one that took a crap on me last summer on my A2B return. All the phone calls, tech support, $500 in FedEx charges and fellow sailor support in Bermuda wouldn't be enough to get that machine working. So the return was already showing up to be interesting... to say the Least.

But that's another story which will have to wait a while.

Also see:

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