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On the Bay: November 6, 2009

This week the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda, BVI is hosting the Pro Am regatta. The reason this column is mentioning this event is not to make all of us jealous of the consistent trade winds between 10-15 knots, sunny skies and temps in the 80s both day and night, not to mention the cool drinks at this lush vacation spot – though that might be a by-product. It just so happens that a local racer from Port Washington YC is down in the BVI racing against the likes of Paul Cayard, Ken Read, Zach Riley (the kid who won medal at the Olympics), Anna Tunnicliffe (also a medal winner at the Olympics, to name a few. The lucky sailor is none other than Craig Albrecht. How did he come to be included in such illustrious company? Granted, we can all agree he is one fine racer, having won his division at the 2009 Block Island Race Week. Because of that feat, his name was entered with all the other division winners and he won the rights to duke it out with some of the best in the world of racing. This is the first time this invitation has been extended to a non-pro, so this should be very interesting. This goes a long way in making the event and the Bitter End Yacht Club is what sailing is all about … FUN. Good luck to Craig and his team.


For those who are interested in following the festivities at the Pro Am Regatta, check out the action at There you will find the history of the regatta and a story about Craig – dubbed the Wild Card Amateur Entry. The article highlights his sailing/racing career which includes winning a Rolex in 2000 for winning the most difficult class in the New York Yacht Club Race Week (J/105), plus winning many other regatta in the one-design class and more recently racing under IRC and placing second in the Vineyard Race in his Farr 395, Avalanche.

Keeping with the “wish I were there” theme, another racer/cruiser is out on the high seas as this column is written. Michael Yorke, Manhasset Bay YC, is onboard Beckoning, a 47-foot Catalina 470 owned by James Wohlleber. Mike, along with four other crew, is on the annual Caribbean 1500 Cruising Rally. According to Jen Brett, since 1990 this rally has helped hundreds of cruisers realize their dream of sailing their own boat to the Caribbean. When founder and president of the Cruising Rally Association Steve Black created the Caribbean 1500, he wanted an event that could help people plan and prepare for the journey as well as see them safely to the finish line—and have a great time while doing it. “The Cruising Rally Association has helped make ocean sailing safer, more accessible, and more fun for thousands of sailors for two decades,” according to president and founder Steve Black. “Each event offers a balance of adventure, camaraderie, and competition to first timers and veteran passage makers alike.”

“It is a participant friendly event,” Black says, “designed to get people safely to the Caribbean in the company of likeminded friends.” This year’s event begins on Nov. 2. Each year a rally fleet of up to 75 boats sets sail from Hampton, Va., and heads down to the finish line at Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. You can choose to participate in the non-competitive Cruising Class, the competitive Rally Class or the new IRC/Performance division for performance-oriented boats. On both ends, the rally participants are treated to nightly social functions, and there is an awards ceremony in Tortola. The spirit of the event hasn’t changed since the first rally, but technology has. “We own our own transponders and will continue to use them on every boat,” Black explains. “It has added to the enjoyment for family and friends keeping tabs on their adventurous loved ones and has helped the Rally Committee to prepare for nighttime arrivals.” Each year, hundreds of sailors, both Caribbean 1500 veterans and newcomers alike, gather in Hampton for the schedule of pre-departure safety and planning meetings. Its details like this that make rallies so appealing for many cruisers. This year, for example, participants can attend weather briefings, Gulf Stream analysis, communications briefings, a landfall review, a women’s roundtable, and additional workshops covering offshore fishing techniques, diesel engine troubleshooting, distress signals and a life raft demonstration. If you are finding yourself a bit shorthanded in the crew department, or would just like to have another experienced sailor onboard for the trip, the rally staff can help supply you with volunteer crew.” A real benefit to having survived and grown is that the backlog of veteran skippers and volunteer crew members has grown.

For additional passage preparation, the Cruising Rally Association offers Ocean Sailing Seminars. These two-day seminars, taught by experienced offshore sailors and experts including circumnavigator Rick Palm and marine electronics guru Tim Hasson, cover a broad range of topics of concern to potential offshore sailors: equipping your boat—cost effectively, common problems at sea, overcoming fear and anxiety, boat handling in rough weather, communications and navigation systems and much more. The goal of the Ocean Sailing Seminars is to enable participants to know just what they need to do to get on the starting line—and make it to the finish.

The Cruising Rally Association, founded in 1990 by Steve Black, manages a year-round calendar of offshore cruising rallies and Ocean Sailing Seminars. Over 750 cruisers and future cruisers attend the CRA events each year. Black has sailed in all parts of the Atlantic, including three solo transatlantic races and more than 40 rallies. He served as executive director of the US Sailing Association before founding the Cruising Rally Association which he has headed for the last 20 years. For more information:

Of interest to those readers who are interested in match racing –which, by the way, is on its way to being an important part of racing in the United States – are the top ranked match racers according to ISAF (International Sailing Foundation), the governing body for the sport of sailing. New Zealand’s Adam Minoprio is again unmoved from the top spots in the latest release of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings on 28 October. The top three skippers in the Open World Rankings remain unchanged, with Adam Minoprio (NZL) holding onto the world #1 spot for the third consecutive Ranking release. Australia’s Torvar Mirsky (AUS) stays at #2, ahead of Mathieu Richard (FRA) at #3. Reigning World Champion Ian Williams (GBR) returns to the world top five as he climbs two places to #4, with ISAF Nations Cup winner Damien Iehl (FRA) unmoved at #5. What is very interesting about this release is that all of the mentioned match racers, with the exception of Damien Iehl, have raced right here on Manhasset Bay at the Knickerbocker Cup!