As far as starts go, this one was anticlimactic. I got to witness the start of the Trans Atlantic Race on Sunday. It was delayed a day due to bad conditions. I’ll start at the beginning.
A friend of a friend is racing in this race. As far as parents go, they wanted to watch their son off. AJ is sailing aboard Stad of Amsterdam, a 257 square rigged clipper ship. He bought his passage with his friend Lenny. We arrived in New Jersey to board a cabin cruiser called Laborer. It was a very plush boat and we were quite comfortable. After leaving the gas dock, we headed to the start.
We passed the Statue of Liberty, still a moving sight for me, and motored up the Hudson. The Coast Guard was buzzing around like gnats patrolling the waters. We got flagged down by one but were allowed to go up because Mom was aboard to see her son off! Wide eyed I passed lower Manhattan. I saw the towering offices, the docks and even a floating museum. It was a bit overcast and the rain came down just for a couple of minutes. Going up the river we we’re picking out the boats that were going to participate. We saw Mari Chi IV, Drumbeat, and others. The ‘smallest’ boat allowed in this race is 70 feet. The Stad is the largest. As we came up to this great boat it seemed so out of place. Here is an old fashion boat that was barely 5 years old. She hails out of Amsterdam.
Helicopters were buzzing along filming everything. When the film comes out, we’re the 42 foot boat with the battle flags up along side the Stad. At about 10 the boats were in the parade of boats going to the start line. As we watched the Stad we saw more and more sails being set. It was a down wind run coming out of the Hudson. We teased the boat that this was their final approach to the start and it pretty much was. We skipped up and down the river trying to see as many of the boats as possible. There were 7 of us aboard the boat and all of us knew a fair bit of history about these boats and a lot of racing.
The start line was about 1/4 of a mile long. The wind was light and variable. The Tri Storm club kept us close to the action but out of the racers way. This wasn’t a typical start that most of us are use to. The boats were being very conservative. Many of them didn’t even put their sails up until into their 10 minute start. Mari Cha was in the first start. She’s not a pretty boat but she sure could move. By the time the Stad started, we couldn’t even see the Mari Cha anymore.
The Stad start was the last one. She made her final approach and had to back wind the sails to slow down. She ran the line and was right up there for the gun. One boat in her start was actually over and came back to restart. The Stad started but it takes a lot to get her moving again so we hung around and teased the crew. We left them about a half hour later, telling them that we would be back on Monday to see how far they had gotten!
If you have been reading in Scuttlebutt, you know that the Stad has withdrawn due to light air.