2014 will mark the 25th edition of the Caribbean 1500. It's now officially branded the ARC Caribbean 1500, ostensibly to have it fall in line with World Cruising Club's other rallies around the world bearing similar monikers. But to those who sail it, and those who long to, it'll always be, simply, the '1500.'
I first got involved in 2006, sailing on my first-ever offshore passage aboard the Jeanneau 40 Dress Parade. We were last to finish, leaving from Charleston, SC, on our own, and joining the fleet in Tortola, when the event still called Road Town home. Fast forward a few years - I'm now, alongside my wife Mia, the event manager for the 1500, and have sailed in several other iterations of it on various boats since 2006.
One of our challenges for 2014 will be commemorating the 25th edition of the event. It's seen major change since Steve Black left the helm in 2011, but we think we've done a good job of keeping it's spirit intact. 2013 saw the event move to Portsmouth, Virginia, where we received an extremely warm welcome from the local community and our new hosts at Ocean Marine Yacht Center. And then suddenly something happened that will make the 25th edition of the event memorable, regardless of what we plan for it.
On Monday this week, the yacht Falcon officially registered for the 1500. This would be uneventful, except that the yacht Falcon is 80 feet long and was built as a training vessel for the 2000 America's Cup. In full carbon fiber. Quite quickly, Monday became one of the most exciting days that I've had as event manager for the 1500, and a pretty good start to 2014.
What follows is a brief blurb from the owner with some details of the boat and what he plans on doing with it - and how you can go sailing with him:
"Falcon is an eighty foot carbon fiber maxi racing yacht originally designed to train a crew for the 2000 Americas Cup. Starting this year she will have a new life as a training vessel. Falcon will be used for youth safety at sea programs, corporate and family team building, and now in conjunction with the World Cruising Club, she will sail in the 2014 ARC Caribbean 1500. Falcon will offer an unforgettable learning experience for 10 lucky sailors. The cost of the program will include participation in the 1500 events, several days of offshore training prior to departure and a crew position on Falcon for the rally to Tortola, BVI.
Falcon has just completed a major refit including a full cruising interior. This thoroughbred race boat capable of 20 knots boat speed will now become a safe and comfortable platform to learn the art of offshore sailing. Safety at sea, sail handling, heavy weather sailing, routing, weather, navigation, and a multitude of other subjects will be discussed prior to and during the voyage."
The captain, Cary St Onge, has a heck of a resume himself, and is quite the interesting character. He's a circumnavigator with 45 years of racing and cruising experience. He's done 15,000 miles singlehanded and holds a USCG 100 Ton Master license.
For those of you in the area, Cary will be giving a short presentation during the Annapolis Ocean Sailing Seminar in March (there is still limited room to sign up), and will be available all weekend to discuss crewing opportunities on Falcon.
Anyone with an interest in securing one of these crew positions should contact Cary at Falcon@Force10Sailing.com or 303-927-8489 for more information.
As for me, I'm still trying to convince the office to let me catch a ride on Falcon in the 1500 - she's almost guaranteed to be the first boat to arrive in Tortola!