Sue Pelling and Vanda Woolsey teamed up with Aussies for some real fun racing during the third day at Tobago Sail Week

Having enjoyed a day’s ‘rest’ during lay day at the Tobago Hilton resort on Wednesday, crews turned out yesterday morning bright eyed and bushy tailed for the start of the Peake-sponsored race three of Angostura Tobago Sail Week.

In classic Caribbean conditions of fresh winds and sizzling sunshine, the 57-strong Sail Week fleet comprising racing, cruising and charter classes, made their way out to the start line for their penultimate race.

As race weeks go, Tobago Sail Week is possibly one of the easiest regattas to pick up a sail for those not already fixed up; simply head along to the opening party night and it’s a case of ‘taking your pick’ among the many offers.

To make the most of the week I, and Vanda Woolsey (YW picture editor), decided to take up the offer from the Australians aboard Betty Mae, the Moorings chartered Gib Sea 43. Joe Walker the navigator took the helm for the day while I was given the mainsheet to play with. The others who included Grant Pember, the yacht skipper, Tony Becker the winder (Aussie term for weak grinder), Don Crouch (grinder), and Vanda, sorted out the rest of the boat.

Having had a fairly mediocre start to the week, Team Betty Mae were up for a good result so it was a case of forgetting the ethics of ‘cruising’ and going for gold. In the building breeze which reached 28kts at times we had a reasonable start from the middle of the line and put in a toss (Aussie term for tack) to head out to the favoured right-hand side of the of the course.

We rounded in a respectable fourth place from the 11-strong Charter II fleet and were looking good as we bore off on a broad reach toward the next mark. However, as luck would have it, about half an hour in to the race, the race committee signalled the race abandonment with all five classes having to return to the starting area for re-starts. Apparently the Peake Yacht Services marker buoy had disappeared off the horizon!

Although we had a reasonable start (some two hours later) the second time round, we made our biggest tactical error of the race by tacking too early in to the extreme current. Also in the large swell it was difficult to set the ageing handkerchief-like cruising sails, which had definitely seen better days. We made up a bit of ground once we’d got in to a grove but promptly lost it again when we had to do two tacks to clear the buoy in the strong running current. It was at this point where our ‘out and out’ racing boat was amazingly transformed in to a relaxing cruiser and we were able to crack open the ‘tinnies’ and celebrate Tony’s birthday in fine Caribbean style! Okay, so we came last, but at least we had one hellava day which is what, I suppose, Tobago Sail Week is all about.

Although we had a bad day as far as race results were concerned it was nothing compared to Jeff Gransaull and his team aboard the Beneteau 45F5 who had the worse luck of the day when their mast broke during the long offshore beat. In the building breeze the forestay fitting failed and the mast, just above the spreaders, came tumbling down on top of the crew. Fortunately no was seriously injured but it did mean the end of their week. They had already scored two seconds and a first and were well in line for overall Cruiser-Racer honours. I can however, think of worse places to spend the rest of the week on shore!


Race 3


1st Guardian Star

2nd Legacy

3rd Ten-shun


1st Wayward

2nd Hugo

3rd L’antillaise


1st Hotel California Too

2nd Sun Beat III

3rd After Hours

Charter Class 1

1st Saga Boy

2nd Long Gone

3rd Annie T

Charter Class 2

1st French Connection

2nd Dream Time II

3rd Hienga

Comfort Cruising

1st Udjat

2nd Mariposa

3rd Yucca