Catboats battle it out in eventful 2009 Cup

Cayman’s catboat sailors proved their hardiness in tough conditions on Saturday’s David Foster Memorial Catboat race.

The race, sponsored by Fosters Food Fair took place in the North Sound. Because of high winds and waves, the planned course to start at Morgan’s Harbor and finish at Mr. Foster’s family house in Sand Point was changed at the skippers meeting to a start at the inner channel markers at Morgan’s Harbor.

The approximately seven mile course followed a beat to windward up to, and around, the inner Main Channel marker, leaving them to port and returning to Morgan’s Harbor with the finish at the start line.

‘Considering the carnage that the race exacted on the fleet this turned out to be a wise decision,’ said Captain Jerris Miller.

Participants were Brac Cat owned by David Foster with Captain Austin Ebanks, Billy Ebanks & Gene Bodden, Captain D, with Capt. Kem Jackson, Roy Bush & Phillip Parchment, Chisholm Cat with Capt Jerris Miller II, Ned Miller III & Kenny Ebanks, and Blue Bayou with Romel Ebanks and Cody Culbert.

Two other boats scheduled to race, Capt Mendoza Johnson’s Mendoza Cat and Capt Crosby Ebanks See Her Go, scratched before the start of the race due to a lack of crew.

The officials for the race were Darwin Ebanks, Paul ‘Spike’ Deidre, and A.B. Parsons who provided the chase boat.

Action packed racing

At the start, Brac Cat took the honors crossing the start line first, closely followed by Chisholm Cat then Blue Bayou with Captain D bringing up the rear. This order of positions did not last long as Austin Ebanks on Brac Cat soon tacked to starboard into a header while Kem Jackson on Captain D relied on superior boat speed to storm to the head of the fleet, a position he never relinquished for the rest of the entire race.

Jerris Miller on Chisholm Cat and Rommel Ebanks on Blue Bayou continued a tightly fought battle with neither giving ground. Rommel relied on superior pointing ability to slowly work Blue Bayou from his leeward position to a windward advantage while Jerris Miller utilized superior boat speed boat speed to stay in front.

Then disaster struck Chisholm Cat. The necessary ‘weather board’ with NJ Miller riding way outside the boat, suddenly punched right through the plank it was resting against on the leeward side of the boat (these things happen on a 65 year old boat) resulting in a hole in the side approximately 6 inches by 18 inches.

‘The resulting geyser of water into the boat was a thing to behold,’ said Mr. Miller.

Complete disaster was only averted by a quick tack to starboard by Capt Miller and all hands assisting with the ‘bailer’, a common sight on a catboat anyway.

Fast thinking

Having avoided disaster, NJ was sent out to the end of the weather board, allowing Kenny Ebanks to concentrate on possible repairs, with nothing on the boat to make repairs with.

Off came shirts and shoes from everyone on board in an attempt to find enough materials to allow the boat to continue on. The saving grace was the fact that starboard tack took them towards the reef allowing about 20 minutes before they would be forced to tack over to the heavily damaged side.

With a lot of ingenuity, Kenny was able, with the help of the shoes, clothes and a life preserver to execute a makeshift repair that would not only allow them to return to the dock but to continue and finish the race. A large wind shift offshore ended up allowing Chisholm Cat to maintain second place when forced to tack for the main channel marker.

While Brac Cat was having its fun the rest of the fleet continued to sail, however troubles were lurking for Brac Cay and Blue Bayou ahead.

More excitement

Brac Cat was next to feel the bite of Neptune, holding a comfortable second place, approaching the windward mark Capt. Ebanks tacked to fetch the mark and a combination of too much water already in the boat from the regular wooden boats leaks and a large wave they swamped and turned over.

At the windward mark the order was Captain D, followed by Chisholm Cat then Blue Bayou while Brac Cat crew struggled to bail out their boat and reset the mast and sail.

The carnage was not over yet as Blue Bayou, making good time towards the finish was the next to get the catboat experience. Surfing along a large wave the boom suddenly dug into the water to leeward resulting in the inevitable catboat roll over. Romel and Cody persevered and righted the boat, bailed it out, reset the sail and proceeded towards the finish only to experience the same accident once again.

Young Cody Culbert managed to live through the full catboat experience the first time out and swears to be there for the next race.

The order of finish at the end of the day was:

First Place – Captain D

Second Place – Chisholm Cat

Third Place – Brac Cat

Forth Place – Blue Bayou

The Cayman Catboat Club would like to thank everyone who participate or assisted with the race especially the Police crew with Cayman Protector and AB Parsons, who made it possible to assist two boats in distress at one time, as well as the family of the late Mr. David Foster and Fosters Food Fair for sponsoring this race every year.