Whitebread XV – by Steve Bellavia
This is a 32 mile race that takes place during the fall harvest season off the pristine shores of the Peconic Bays of Eastern Long Island, New York, while the land-lubbers pack the wineries, pumpkin patches and corn fields-converted-to-mazes.
It begins in the New Suffolk/Cutchogue area, sails East around Shelter Island and back, followed by a massive party with a live band, beautiful marble and wood trophies, raffle prizes and lots of spirit supplied by Mount Gay Rum.
There were a total of 105 boats of all makes and sizes with seven multihulls competing in their own division.
The day started off with a fresh breeze from the Northeast and double-trapping upwind on the first long leg. The faster-rated boats, such as the brand new Vector Works Blade Formula 16, the 31 foot Dragonfly trimaran, the Nacra 5.5SL and Kris Seluga and I on the Hobie FX-1, were crossing tacks and trading the lead position, while the two Hobie 16's and Prindle 16 were right on our tails, putting corrected time in the bank. Last year a Hobie 16 won, so at this point it was anybody's race.
Unfortunately, the unseasonably warm temperatures created the usual wind battle with a sea-breeze from the opposite direction. Almost exactly half-way around the island, the wind died and the 5:00 pm curfew was approaching. We heard over the VHF that the race committee was shortening the course at the 22-mile mark. We tried to head closer to Shelter Island, where there was a zephyr just yards off the shore. The trimaran got their first and was now in the lead. Then the thermal finally filled in at 4:00 PM and we were trapping upwind in a Southwesterly (our prevailing summer breeze, even though it was the middle of October).
The lead position was again changing on every tack making for an exciting finish. A short downwind leg to the finish allowed Greg Gove and Robin Epperson on their Blade 16, to pop their chute, where they passed the trimaran and took the gun for our division. Three of the cats could not make the curfew, and were scored DNF. they were in good company with about 30 other monohulls, also scored DNF with some finishing within seconds after the curfew. I hope this does not discourage them for coming out next year! The race committee is already having meetings to improve this situation for Whitebread XVI.
Special thanks to our volunteer chase boat personnel, Steve Bogert and Elliot Yablon, on a 22 foot Zodiac Hurricane, who worked hard that day for almost 12 hours and made sure all were safe, especially those who still had to sail home in the dark.
(I would have posted some photos, but don't know how on anymore)
Last edited by Steven Bellavia; 10/15/08 12:38 PM.