Following a relatively mellow light-air start, George Sakellaris’s (Framingham, Mass.) 72’ Reichel Pugh Shockwave eventually enjoyed double-digit reaching conditions to become first-to-finish, first in IRC division and first overall at the 31st biennial Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race Presented by Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum.
Winner: Shockwave - 31st Biennial Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race
The annual ocean race of 811 nautical miles started on Friday, February 8 at Florida’s Port Everglades, sending the 'MoBay' fleet of ten boats--sailing in IRC and PHRF divisions--on a challenging all-points-of-sail course to Montego Bay, Jamaica. Shockwave crossed the finish line on Sunday, February 10 with an elapsed time of two days, 11 hours, 23 minutes and two seconds, just short of the current race record that was set in 2005 by Titan 12. Due to the favorable conditions, all of the boats had crossed the finish line by Tuesday evening, February 12, two days earlier than expected.
'This was a true team effort for the Shockwave crew that George Sakellaris and his captain Reggie Cole have spent two years assembling,' said Shockwave’s tactician Robbie Doyle (Marblehead, Mass.), adding that regular crew members Scot Gregory, Jason Carr, Peter Kingsbury and Reid Fleming deserved a great deal of credit. 'Despite fresh and often changing conditions, sail handling went without a hitch, and the damage report was almost nil.'
Doyle said there were two different theories regarding the expected weather for the race. 'One was that it would be light at the start but very solid the rest of the way to Jamaica,' said Doyle. 'Knowing Shockwave’s capabilities, we definitely were thinking that beating the record set by Titan was a possibility. The other forecast was for a light and variable breeze to carry on for the first 12 hours of the race, and that proved to be the case. Nevertheless, we were able to recover from that and still had a good shot at the record but fell 58 minutes short.'
Doyle added that a conservative start on starboard tack at the pin end allowed them some southerly distance before jumping into the northerly heading Gulf Stream. They sailed until they ran out of counter current and jibed to cross the stream to leeward of all but IceFire, the well regarded TP 52 entered by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Sailing Foundation. 'We had a nice lead, but we still had 800 miles to go!'
It was one long match race for IceFire and another TP 52, Bryon Ehrhart’s (Chicago, Ill.) Lucky, but IceFire prevailed, beating Lucky by a little over two hours and taking second place on corrected time in IRC Division. (Lucky wound up in fourth place behind Stephen Murray’s Carkeek 40 Decision.)
'We were close to Lucky the entire time and it was great sailing because we were perfectly matched,' said IceFire crew member Jesse Fielding (Wickford, R.I.), adding that his team, headed by Ralf Steiz (Kings Point, N.Y.), president of the USMMA Sailing Foundation, was promoting All American Ocean Racing, a new program that prepares sailors, age 30 and under, for offshore racing. 'We had a phenomenal young American crew that included Taylor Canfield, Mark Towill, Charlie Enright, Chris Welch and Chris Branning. After passing Cuba, we were faced with some gear failure, but we rallied, kept pushing and never stopped.'
Doyle also mentioned Cuba as a memorable waypoint for Shockwave. 'Once around the tip, we set our largest, heavy air spinnaker. After a handful of rain squalls, the northeasterly breeze filled in nicely and we were off running at high speed. With former English Laser Champion Nick Bonner driving, we hit a high of 26.5 knots!'
Doyle added with a smile that while the ride on deck was exhilarating and very Caribbean (complete with a few flying fish joining them on deck), below decks was 'more like Niagara Falls, and the competition was for one of the few remaining dry bunks.'
In PHRF division, Glenn Gault’s (League City, Texas) J/120 Rebecca won on corrected time. Tom Slade’s (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) Santa Cruz 52 Renegade took second, while Michael Hennessy’s (New York, N.Y.) Class 40 Dragon finished third.
'This was a good race with calms, good breeze for much of the race and a personable sea state,' said Renegade crew member Dudley Baringer. 'Events such as this weave a richness and fullness into the fabric of our lives. Recollections of these times will put a smile on this old man’s face for many years to come, God willing.'
Immediately after the start, racers cross the Gulf Stream for the Northwest Providence Channel. The middle of the race offers a fetch down the eastern side of the Bahamas Island Chain toward the tip of Cuba. The final stretch is a sailor’s dream: a 240-mile downwind sleigh ride from Cuba’s eastern tip, known as the Windward Passage, to the finish at Montego Bay. After this year’s finish, sailors were treated to a week of fun with cocktail parties every night, steel bands, limbo dancing and other memorable displays and competitions, ending with a dinner, dance and prize giving ceremony on Friday, February 15.
Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race
February 8, 2013
IRC (Six Boats)
1. Shockwave, Mini Maxi 72, George Sakellaris , Framingham, MA, USA - 1, ; 1
2. Icefire, IRC 52 52, Ralf Steitz USMMA , Kings Point, NY, USA - 2, ; 2
3. Decision, HPR Carkeek 40 40, Stephen Murray , New Orleans, LA, USA - 3, ; 3
4. Lucky, TP 52 58, Bryon Ehrhart , Chicago, IL, USA - 4, ; 4
5. Catapult, Ker 40 40, Marc Glimcher , New York, NY, USA - 5, ; 5
6. Donnybrook, Andrews 80 80, James Muldoon , Washington, DC, USA - 6, ; 6
PHRF (Four Boats)
1. Rebecca, J 120 40, Glenn Gault , League City, TX, USA - 1, ; 1
2. Renegade, Santa Cruz 52 52, Tom Slade , Ponte Vedra, FL, USA - 2, ; 2
3. Dragon, Class 40 40, Michael Hennessy , New York, NY, USA - 3, ; 3
4. AMHAS, Class 40 40, MacKenzie Davis , Mill Valley, CA, USA - 4, ; 4
For more information, visit Montego Bay Race website