By Tom Leweck, Scuttlebutt founder:
“I don’t think I’ve been outta bed at five in the morning for five straight days in the last 30 years,” commented Tom Priest as we all stumbled around in the dark - packing our bags for an early morning flight back to California. Priest, and the rest of us in our rented crew house, had just raced on Damon Guizot’s Long Beach, California-based Swan 53 Katrina in the St Maarten Heineken Regatta. For us, the daily 5 a.m. wakeup calls were a bit of culture shock.
In California, the sea breeze doesn’t fill in until late morning, so races rarely start before noon. The wind blows all day and all night in the Caribbean, and the Heineken Regatta’s first warning signal was scheduled for 0855 each day. Consequently, our Swan always left the slip at 0700 to insure we didn’t miss the 0730 bridge-opening … trapped in the lagoon while the rest of the 218 boats in the regatta were out racing.
What was even more mind-blowing was just how hardy these Caribbean racers are. It’s hard to believe that any regatta has a more extensive party schedule than the Heineken, with live bands playing past 2 a.m. every night. Partying all night and then getting up in the pre-dawn hours to go racing in 30+ knots of breeze definitely requires a bit more stamina than many of us were prepared for. And it sure reminded me of what Dorothy said in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ “I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto.”
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