Originally posted to SLSailing.com on May 18th, 2008
Epicurus Emmons and ahjep Kattun won the dice toss for first and second starting positions. They decided to compete sailing Daemon Shepherd’s new Green Turtle Tjalk. Ahjep got off to a great start, crossing the line at +00:03, with Epi a scant seven seconds behind. Passages races are scored based on the ‘net’ lap time for the course, however, so a good start time may not predict the winner. That proved to be the case Saturday, as Epi gradually inched ahead while the two Dutch barges traversed the several dozen sims that form the Passages route.
For sailors unfamiliar with Passages, the above chart shows the “West Option” for completing the race. The great distance covered makes the race a challenge of endurance and strategy as much as one of speed. By the time the first two competitors crossed the Finish, Epi had captured the win and was a full half minute in front of ahjep.
The second group of Passages skippers took to the water in Tradewind brigantines. Heidi Stiglitz was a new face in this competition but also undoubtedly a serious contender given her recent, record-breaking performance in the fifth round of the Wold Fizz Cup trials.
Heidi’s boat was wonderfully detailed and unmistakable, sporting a bleached wood topside and a white hull with pink and blue trim and a large USA flag aft.
She sailed against two well-seasoned veterans of this race, Croco Capalini and Trent Randwick.
As most sailors know, the weather in SL has been unsettled recently. Saturday was little different, and the initial start of the race was aborted when none of the tall ships could catch race wind. In a maneuver reminiscent of Keystone Cops, all the skippers stood up and sat down again, resetting their boats. That seemed to fix the problem and the race was finally on!
Heidi was first across the line at 00:09 sec, but she then lost helm control due to severe lag. How bad was it? Well… it was so bad Croco nearly collided with her when his green boat crossed the start line a full three minutes later. By now the fleet is used to this kind of problem and remained undaunted. The skippers took the momentary difficulty in stride and sailed south on the first leg of their journey. Trent’s red Tradewind chose the West option, and Croco and Heidi went East.
Severe weather, low flying planes, and avatars stopping boats dead in the water all combined to make Passages extraordinarily rough going on Saturday, and the competition was truly a tribute to the courage and dedication of the sailors involved. Despite the grueling travail, Croco Capalini finished the course in a remarkable 53:05 min to capture first place, more than eighteen minutes ahead of Trent Randwick, who took the second spot. Fantastic sailing, Croco!
And Heidi? Sad to say, after a heroic effort her boat was lost at sea as she came around West Rock. Pending the approval of the Rear Commodore and the new SYC Steering Committee, the Passages skippers voted to place a wreath on West Rock in fond memory of their comrade Heidi’s bold effort.
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