Captain-Chef of Westray Wins the Race’s Most Distinctive Award


By Chris Museler

The beautiful Westray show her stuff at the start of the 2008 Bermuda Race. (Barry Pickthall/PPL)

The beautiful Westray shows her stuff at the start of the 2008 Bermuda Race. The Concordias love a good breeze. (Barry Pickthall/PPL)

Juan Corradi expected this Bermuda Race to take longer for him aboard his 39’10” wooden Concordia yawl, Westray, than for any other competitor.  The lowest rated boat in the fleet, Westray is also one of those yachts that are more admired for their superb appearance and reliable seaworthiness than for their speed. What Corradi didn’t expect was that they would be out there so long that the crew would be digging into the emergency rations before they finished, which was early on Thursday morning, their seventh day at sea.

Westray may be the last boat to finish, but she–or more accurately, her cook–wins a special prize. This is  the Galley Slave Trophy. This year’s awardee is Captain Corradi himself. Although he is quick to give much of the credit to his wife, who prepared meals at home, he was the one responsible for the galley and serving his four shipmates. The first nights out from Newport they ate well–ravioli, beef Bourgogne, lamb marinated in Malbec–but as the larder emptied, the last two dinners were self-heating emergency rations.

All this is the responsibility of the chef of every boat, and that’s why there’s a  Galley Slave Trophy. Says Bermuda Race Organizing Committee Prize Chairman, Bob Darbee,“Our objective is to honor the various dimensions of the race.”  One of the race’s oldest and best-known perpetual awards, since 1946 the Galley Slave has been presented to the cook on the last boat to finish in recognition of her or his patience and importance to the crew. Suitably, the award is the last presented at the Prize-Giving Ceremony, and equally suitably the winner is recognized by all present in a standing ovation.  Every sailor knows how important food is, and every smart crew goes out of their way to honor “Cookie” one way or another.  The Galley Slave Trophy is the entire race’s tribute to all racing chefs. Though described as a trophy, the award is a suitable object that the recipient can find useful, for instance a frying pan, a pepper mill, a large casserole dish, or a stirring paddle (which can always be personalized).

Westray Crew.JuanCorradi.GaryForster.KristenDonelan.CatherinaSheehanCommette.WillamWiesePhoto.IMGP1212 - Copy

Skipper-chef Juan Corradi and his crew: William Wiese, Catherine Sheehan Commette, Kristen Donelan, and Gary Forster.  (Chris Museler)

Westray won the Galley Slave  for a simple and easily understood reason. “We were trapped in a big hole,” said Corradi who motored into his RBYC slip late Thursday afternoon. “By the time the wind came, everyone in the fleet was already drinking here.”

When Westray arrived at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club dock, her former owner, John Melvin (now the skipper of another Bermuda Race wooden yawl, Black Watch), was there to greet the team. “When I sold you the boat,” said Melvin, “I forgot to mention that it would take a long time.” Melvin was skipper when Westray finished third on corrected time in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division in 2006–and also when she won the Galley Slave Trophy in 2010.

At the dock, Westray’s removable varnished mahogany navigation station in the companionway was tipoff that this boat, built in 1960, is both a fine cruising boat and a work of art.   Concordias have won this race and have a long-standing tradition sailing to Bermuda. “We really enjoyed it,” said Corradi who was sailing the boat for the first time in the race and had previously won the Cruiser Division in his Swan 38. “In just a bit of air, the boat went like a magic carpet.” More on Concordias.

When Corradi heard that a Bermuda 40 was the provisional winner of the St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy and was bolstered by the news. “I see there’s hope for the small boats,” he said.

For that and much more, at the Prize-Giving at Government House on Saturday, the cooks of Westray will receive a standing ovation from Bermuda Race sailors.

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