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18 January 2005, 09:39 am
No Pain, No Gain
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Pusser's Painkiller Thriller
British Virgin Islands

Twenty miles of 'no pain, no gain' downwind sailing saw Ewan Anderson emerge victorious in the Pusser's Painkiller Thriller held this weekend (January 15). This windsurfing event in the British Virgin Islands, and resurrected for 2005, took competitors from Pusser's Marina Cay to Peg Leg Restaurant at Nanny Cay Marina and was not for the faint hearted.
Although obviously breezy at the skippers' briefing, it was not until the leading sailors reached Beef Island Bluff, with 4-6 foot standing waves and winds reaching thirty knots, that they realized the race was going to be one of endurance and survival. 'Brutal' was how one competitor described the race at the finish and race organiser Owen Waters of Island Surf And Sail described it as 'twice as extreme as we'd anticipated' and estimated their average speed at 25-30 miles an hour.

Ewan and Owen were first to reach Beef Island Bluff and, having sailed too low and too close to the cliff face, saw their wind evaporate and watched Roy KEEGAN tear past further out to sea. Owen was first to escape the Bluff's clutches and followed Roy to the right of the course and the more sheltered south side of Tortola. Having rigged for 15-20 knots at the start and carrying large sails (7.7 sq. metres) they were heading for the flat water.

In a do or die call Ewan headed out to sea and the bigger winds, waves and longer reaches with plans to do less gybing on the downwind course. 'Watching the others sailing very tight angles, I decided to bear off and bear off, get comfortable, get in the groove,' said Ewan.

Slowly adjusting his sail to its fullest so that he could sail dead downwind, he unhooked and effectively wave-sailed his way to Peter Island, nature's gybe mark for the final run to Nanny Cay and the finish at Peg Leg Restaurant. Peter Island offered a curving wind and flatter water. 'It was strategy that worked,' said Ewan. 'I gybed maybe five times and I know Roy did at least ten'. Every gybe that ended in a swim sapped strength and added two to three minutes to the race.

Although, the right choice in the end it was no easy win. Ewan ended up in the water at least four or five times, and his knee 'popped' twice. With gritty Glaswegian determination he muscled his way down the course to finish first.

Although no official times were recorded - the Pusser's Painkiller Thriller is more about finishing than the time it takes - Ewan finished in about an hour with Roy and Owen only minutes behind. 'Ewan claimed first place, I came in second only one minute later but had no visual on him at all,' said Owen. 'Thirty miles an hour is extremely fast at sea.'

Peg Leg Restaurant, an event sponsor, welcomed the hardy fleet with a barbecue lunch. The afternoon saw a short and sharp six-lap slalom race off Nanny Cay won by Chris SIMPSON.

For the prize giving much needed Pusser's Painkillers were provided to ease the pain. Pusser's Rum has been the original rum of Great Britain's Royal Navy for 330 years.

2005 Pusser's Painkiller Thriller Results

1. Ewan ANDERSON (Team Island Surf And Sail/Pryde)
2. Owen WATERS (Team Island Surf And Sail- Starboard/Pryde/HIHO/Quantum Sails/ Nanny Cay/ Dirty Dogs)
3. Roy KEEGAN (Team Island Surf And Sail/JP/Pryde)
4. Chris SIMPSON
5. Sean ANDERSON (Team Island Surf And Sail/Starboard/Pryde)
6. Dave PETTIGREW
7. Eddie BROCKBANK
8. Bill BAILEY
9. Carolina PETTIGREW
10. Jason RUFFLE SMITH
11. Craig CHOMIAC- DNF
12. Mirko SANGER- DNF

Slalom 1st Place- Chris SIMPSON

Super x stunt 1st Place Owen WATERS

Alastair Abrehart, Image: © Pussers Rum
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