After an explosive thunderstorm on Friday night here in Rodney Bay and lashings of rain, Saturday dawned bright and sunny with a great breeze. The two Volvo 60's bit the bullet and entered the marina.
A cautious affair with their draft however both tied up on 'A' dock without touching the soft mud and still with a couple of feet below their keels. With "Venom" and "Spirit" now a fine sight in the marina, they are attracting plenty of attention from locals and holidaymakers alike, who have a great opportunity to get up close to some of the world's fastest racing machines.
Saturday also saw the arrival of the third boat - Hungarian flagged "Extra Dry". A Javelin '75 she is a beautiful yacht with perfectly turned out crew in all their sponsored team clothing. The group of ten men, eight whom race professionally, are delighted to have arrived and to have finished 3rd over the line considering they have a very heavy boat (so they say!). The crew includes György FINÁCZY, aged 61, a well known Hungarian Olympic Finn racer in the 60's and 70's, and skipper Nándor FA, who has completed a number of single handed events including the BOC and Vendée Globe. Both men commented on what a great team they had on board and were disappointed it was all over.
Alex HOFFMAN, the owner of "Aspiration" which arrived in the afternoon at 15:29 agreed wholeheartedly. He said "It's a pity we are here and it's all over, we have had a great time."
During the two days of little or no wind, experienced by all of the front runners, "Aspiration" dropped her sails and drifted allowing the crew time to take a long swim in very deep water. "Extra Dry" however used their trump card during this time, and posted a guy up the mast to look for wind, which obviously paid off. Light winds for some time maybe, but "Aspiration" managed to shred no less than 3 spinnakers during the crossing, the crew finding sewing skills they didn't know they had.
Last to arrive was "Liara" who was hoping for line honours this year before spotting the two Volvo 60's in Las Palmas and realising it was not to be. She finished very close on the heels of "Aspiration", just 1.5 hours later, her crew sunburnt and tired yet resplendent in their team shirts. In addition to rum punch there were plenty of champagne corks popping and the local Rodney Bay bars will no doubt be kept busy tonight.
The new arrivals unfortunately are not hanging around in Rodney Bay. "Extra Dry's" crew are keen to cruise some of the other islands before flying home next weekend. They have however promised to venture back to St. Lucia for the official Early Arrivals Party next Wednesday hosted by the St. Lucia Tourist Board and AT&T at the St. Lucia Yacht Club, so we look forward to welcoming them back then. "Aspiration" is only here for one day to drop off crew and then will be sailing to Antigua for a busy charter season and "Liara" much the same, although they will likely stay for the "AT&T Buzz Welcome Party" on Monday night.
An unfortunate incident happened this morning after "Extra Dry's" spectacular finish. Before attempting an entrance into the marina, "Extra Dry" chose first to stay at anchor while the crew tidied up everything after the passage. As the skipper alighted into the dinghy to come ashore for customs, the outboard bolts had unfortunately not been tightened sufficiently and with the fist stroke to start, jumped off the back of the dinghy and sank into the depths! A diver has been deployed to search for the unfortunate outboard, however as yet has been unable to locate it. A lesson to be learnt for everyone.
So things are definitely hotting up here in St. Lucia, with 10 boats expected today including "Spirit of Diana", last year's winner of line honours, and a further 10 on Monday.