We have had an interesting and very pleasurable start to our time at Ilhabela – competing in the 41st Ilhabela Sailing Week with a team from Cape Town. Coming into the Soto 40 class is like trying to start climbing Everest without any training, as the small Brazilian fleet is full of geniuses, maestros, Olympic medals and more! But we have had a fantastic warmup with three days of training and the gracious assistance of our charterers, Team Crioula.
I send this pic of early morning at the YCI, a perfect example of the luxurious Brazilian yacht club, set in the pristine tropical setting of the “Beautiful Island” (Ilhabela), three hours drive and a ferry hop from Sao Paulo. Right now boats are still arriving from Sunday’s 60 miler to a nearby island and back. On Crioula 03 we battled in our fleet of five to finish late last night, and having experienced our first taste of highs and lows racing the Soto 40, trading positions between first and last right up until the end. After holding third for a long time in this classic race, the wind lost its strength and direction as we came into the channel between the island and mainland, in the darkness of early evening. With this our charterers, in Crioula 29, concertina’d right up to us, and then picked up an exceptional gust to sail around us just five minutes before the finish!
On board we have Phil Gutsche and his daughter Viv. Rick Nankin steering with Mark Sadler as tactician, providing a huge amount of input at all levels and generally pushing us forward in a very positive way. Golden Mgedeza, Ken Venn, Hein de Jamaer, Nic Baigrie, James Largier and myself round out our great bunch.
Surely the small taste of bitterness from last night will steel us though for a good week of learning and hard competition in this amazing country.