Antigua Sailing Week: Teamwork pays off

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Jonathan Russo is a passionate sailor from New York who took a break from the Northeast spring and headed to the Caribbean for Antigua Sailing Week, where he is filing daily reports for Soundings. This is his sixth dispatch.

A solid third! Spirit of Juno placed a solid third in both races on Day 6. This improvement really electrified the crew, coming as it did after a third on the previous race day.

Capt. Tony McBride was full of praise, telling us that “we know how to make the boat go fast. If we sail cleanly tomorrow, we can spend some more time on the podium.”

You could see in his eyes his pride at the crew’s performance on this day. Even Hans Lammers, who is on the race committee, commented on the vast improvement by the Juno crew, and he should know, as he has watched us round all our marks.

It’s a bit of a reality show when you get a place on a boat at Antigua Sailing Week. If you’ve ever watched reality TV, you know the arc of lessons learned and skill sets advanced. It really is no different in sailing. Practice makes perfect, and finding the right job for the right person can make a difference.

Here’s a look at some of the recent Antigua action:

The day was windy from the start, and we had a few upwind tacks and then some downwind spinnaker legs. Our spinnaker hoists were now smooth, and even the dreaded spinnaker jib was more likely than not to work out. It was here, however, that we were also prone to make a mistake that would cost us a position in the race. And it was in these spinnaker jibs that the professionals aboard earned their keep. Without them calling out critical split-second instructions, all would be lost.

The second race was just beautiful, showing off all the glory of Antigua’s south coast. We had a long downwind leg to the west. We sailed so far that the mountains of Guadeloupe could be seen in the hazy distance. Then it was back upwind and the finish. Once again, we got a third.

The Spirit of Juno crew celebrates a strong finish in their class. CREDIT: Miguel A. Castellote

There was a sense of satisfaction at the dockside wrap-up. The next day loomed as the last day of racing, with one long race instead of the usual two.

I am sure the professionals and guest crew aboard Juno are looking forward to once again proving themselves as racing sailors in this fantastic regatta.

Jonathan Russo has been sailing for more than 30 years. His home port is Shelter Island, N.Y., and he sails his Sabre 38, Sachem, extensively in New England waters.