By Chris Museler
On Wednesday afternoon the crew aboard
the Swan 53, Fox, was sorting through various plastic slides
to make sure all the porthole curtains worked. Our captain aboard
Titan XV was banding reaching sails with soft yarn while the mobile
phone was glued to his ear. Canadian Richard Clarke from Vela Veloce
was intensely focusing on a sail inventory list while his team waited
for direction, sails stacked on the foredeck and dock. And Hap Fauth,
owner and skipper of Belle Mente, sat on a cushioned seat aboard
his 116-foot Whisper with his arm draped over the pushpit and
smoking his trademark cigar.
The scene at Newport Shipyard
It is now Thursday morning, the day
before my first Bermuda race and I am sitting in my doctor’s office
just a stone’s throw from the harbor, not on a cushy boat thinking
about refinements to racing performance. I lost my voice and have an
annoying cough that I want to thwart before heading off with 19 other
sailors in close quarters. So far this is the only “race preparation”
list item I need to worry about.
Sailors prepare for this race in
ways and the “excitement” leading up to the start seems to be directly
proportional to the amount of work left to do on the boat. And in the
final stages, there is a glimmer of hope that, hell or high water, all
will make it to the starting line on Friday afternoon.
As for my ride aboard Titan XV,
is a busy one not even counting loading sails and food. I received an
email outlining what’s left. We all have signed our crew waiver and
pre-screened with the nice Bermudian officials at New York Yacht Club.
Now we have a few deadlines. First is getting our shore gear to the
container at the Newport Shipyard by 11 a.m. Our container will be
last so it will be offloaded first. Nice move Scotty. Those crew leaving
immediately were asked to pack some clothes in a labeled Ziploc that
will be delivered by hand in Bermuda.
Scotty believes the race will be, “very
settled and pleasant. Cool the first night only. Please pack light!”
Following this concept, we have been asked to send out toiletry kits
with the container as the boat will have toothpaste and deodorant.
This is kind of a personal thing but I’m rolling with it.
As a journalist, my life revolves
deadlines. My final deadline for Friday is our departure: 1 p.m. sharp.
When I raced Transatlantic in 2005, my boat left the dock without me
and I needed a tender to get me aboard. I am determined to not miss