The Racing Division doesn’t get much tighter than the battle between veterans Scarlet Oyster and Captain Blind. Both yachts finished early this morning off Pigeon Island in St. Lucia within an hour of each other. That wouldn’t be so remarkable, except for the fact that they’d be dueling for thousands of miles previously.
Already on Day 7, Scarlet Oyster began referring to their rivals on Captain Blind in their at-sea blog. At the time, the French boat was leading Ross and crew on Scarlet.
“After 1200nm of racing and in the very middle of the Atlantic Ocean we have just met up with Captain Blind, who are only 4nm ahead of us,” wrote skipper Ross, a wily veteran of the ARC and class winner in his previous three attempts.
Captain Blind, a Gran Soleil 43, is a faster yacht than Scarlet, an Oyster 48, on handicap at least. While Blind were leading Scarlet outright, they trailed even then on corrected time. However, with 1,000 miles still to sail, anything was possible.
Thus started a game of cat and mouse between the two boats, which lasted the rest of the way across the Atlantic. Or should we say dog and cat, for at one stage, Captain Blind, writing in French, referred to the crew on Scarlet, trailing at the time, but right on their heels, as their ‘petit chien’ – little dog. Scarlet, a largely British crew, began affectionately referring to their French rivals as ‘the enemy’ in their blogs.
“They have proved to be very hard to hang on to,” wrote Ross, “and we are quite sure their Captain is not blind! They certainly appear to be a class act, and any mistakes on our part will make it very difficult to keep her in our sights.”
Scarlet continued their pursuit of their worthy rivals through each star-studded and moonlit night. Ross admitted that “it would seem foolish to split from our strongest rival,” electing to follow rather than take a flyer and try to escape.
With under 100 miles to go, Scarlet Oyster, based on their own calculations, felt they had a chance to take the outright win in the Racing Division over the mighty record-breaking Leopard of Finland. They had overtaken Captain Blind, but only barely, and since they were gybing towards Pigeon Island, were still uncertain of who would cross the finish line first.
“It is likely to be close boat on boat to the finish with them, just as it should be after such a close battle for so long,” wrote Ross in the yacht’s last blog entry.
In the end, Scarlet did make it to the line first. It’s up to the corrected time calculations before we get an official Racing Division result, but skipper Ross was pleased with his crew’s performance. And despite the rivalry at sea, the crew of Scarlet, despite the late hours on their arrival, rushed down the dock to welcome in Captain Blind and congratulate them on their successful passage.
As for the rest of the fleet, the light air offshore prevails, but it’s picked up enough to allow several arrivals overnight and today. 21 ARC yachts are now safely berthed in Rodney Bay Marina, with another dozen or so expected today. The festive atmosphere on the docks will only continue to grow as the days go by.