CAT FIGHT REGATTA
JOSH VAN DYKE, CARIBBEAN ISLAND
Activity: Big Cat Racing
Date: Halloween 2014
Facebook presented me with a memory today and since I feel it was not only one of the coolest things I have ever done, but a neat part of my sailboat racing history, I thought that I would share it.
I happened to be on a Corporate Reward/National Sales Meeting trip to Puerto Rico. My wife and I were treated to a Super Resort, with lavish accommodations and meals. While there I participated in a ”Fun Run”, a Mountain Bike through the jungle excursion, took a boat out to a small island off shore for fun in the sun and hiking, topped off with a night kayak adventure through some mangroves to a bioluminescent bay. It was a super enjoyable trip.
I thought hey, my Hobie Cat Champion friend Teri McKenna has a Charter Boat on the island Saint Thomas and that is only a quick flight from Puerto Rico. What an opportunity to hit a bucket list item, cruise on a Charter Cat.
Teri invited me over to her tropical paradise, a cool apartment right on the beach on Saint Thomas with a spectacular view of the most enchanting little bay. What an amazing week we had together. It seems Teri had been working so hard on her business that it had been awhile since she did anything fun. So showing me around “Paradise” was just what the doctor ordered for her as well. We traveled to multiple islands that are in the vicinity, went for a jungle hike, visited picture perfect beaches, had some great meals at cool restaurants and bars, sailed a big mono hull to another island, and all the things that people do on vacation.
The extra special things were Master Diver Teri took me on 3 scuba dives which of course were spectacular with colorful reefs and tropical fish including a 6 foot shark that was gone in a blink of an eye. We took out her Nacra 17. (The Olympic Catamaran designed by my friend World Champion Pete Melvin. Pete and I won the US Sailing Alter Cup together back in the day.) It was a fantastic day in nirvana, flying a hull on this speedy little cat was most thrilling as I helmed it across the splendid tropical blue green waters.
Now for the bucket lister… I have always been jealous of friends that would go race in some exotic part of the world at a Hobie World Championship and then take a week and cruise with other Hobie friends on big Charter Cats. Now was my chance. Teri owned a Lagoon 44’ Catamaran fully decked out, and chartering the incredible waters of the Caribbean. She was not only going to take me out for a cruise, but my timing was perfect as it was the weekend of ”Cat Fight” a regatta for Charter Cats off of the island of Josh Van Dyke.
The racers were made up of a combination of crews chartering and professional charter crews that were blowing off some steam. Teri’s arch rival was a cat similar to hers that had NEVER, EVER lost, and they had a transom full of plaques decorating the stern of their boat to prove it. Teri was sick and tired of losing to them feeling that they had taken some unfair advantages stripping their boat of weight, whereas the folks chartering did not have that luxury. But this time she decided that she would fight fire with fire. We would keep an eye on the competition and if we saw them offloading their anchor and other heavy gear than we would as well. They did, so we followed suit.
What a fantastic place to race. The winds were perfect. The pictuesque scene with the beautiful water, the glorious islands, and the marvelous catamarans was divine. About mid way through the race we were neck and neck with Teri’s rival- side by side next to a big rock jutting out of the ocean. I am not sure what was more nerve racking being side by side with the main competition as Teri practically willed our boat forward, or the big rock that was also just a matter of feet away. As we passed one of the shoals, which was a mark of the course, we squirted out into the lead. The other cats were left in our wake, fighting it out and blanketing one another. We had a sizable lead that later began to vanish as we funneled between two islands and the wind was filling from behind. I kept informing Teri that they were closing in on us. In frustration she said she didn’t want to hear any more about how they were catching us! I was able to go forward and read the other side of the headsail and direct Teri with the course according to the tell tails on the sail. This added another dimension to our effort. It turns out that we were able to cross the line just in front of the boat that had a dynasty going on this event.
What was really cool was at the Awards Banquet at the World Famous ‘Foxy’s Bar’ the boat that had never lost was as excited about our win as we were, because to them it was all about the competition, and they finally had some.
We celebrated the Halloween Weekend away toasting our victory with “Pain Killers” at another famous Caribbean Bar, the ‘Soggy Dollar’, enjoying the incredible views from the deck of ’Safari’, the Fastest Charter Cat in the Caribbean, snorkeling, sunning, and swimming. What a marvelous adventure and memory.
Thanks for joining Charter Captain Stephen Ray, Chef Julia Blackney-Ray, Boat Owner Teri McKenna and I as we enjoyed a memory of ’Pursing Balance Through Adventure’ winning the 2014 Cat Fight Regatta aboard ’Safari’ the Fastest Charter Cat in the Caribbean. For more sailing adventures please do the following: LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and SHARE. If you go up to the menu above you will see there are many locations that PBTA travels to on a variety of different types of adventures such as hiking, backpacking, off-roading, and so forth and so on. If you need adventure wear we have top quality hats and shirts at SHOP APPAREL.
*Never Spit to Windward,
Pursuing Balance Through Adventure
*(First rule of sailing as taught to me by dear family friend, the late, great Rear Admiral Robert Quackenbush Jr, US Navy.