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  • Tristan Sess

A Small, Beautiful World

April 18th marked the start of the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta this year off the south shore of the beautiful island of Antigua. I was fortunate enough to have been invited to attend the regatta on behalf of my company, Lyman Morse Boatbuilding (fortunate is an understatement). I got the call from LM three weeks before leaving, telling me that I would sailing on Eros, a 115-foot schooner built in 1939. I will try and avoid overusing the term “my jaw dropped” but the moment we left the airport in Antigua to begin the drive to the house, you guessed it, my jaw dropped. The island is mountainous everywhere you look and I was hard pressed to not be able to see the ocean most of the time too. I especially lucked out as they had apparently had significantly more rain than usual this year and the scenery was extremely green and lush. With me on the trip was our CEO, Drew Lyman and his family, our customer care representative, and two fellow employees, one who is originally from Antigua, and the other who also attended IYRS, the maritime trade school I attended in Rhode Island.


When we arrived at the dock the first day, I was stunned again. Eros was magnificent, unlike any other boat I have ever seen, let alone been on. Not only was Eros beautiful, but we were surrounded by amazing boats on both sides. To our port side was a stunning Spirit 65, one of the boats that I first drooled over when getting into the wooden boat scene. And to starboard, Alvei, a 103-year-old, square top, steel hulled, schooner, with an awe-inspiring crew of 20-something year old’s, lead by their captain/owner Jeff. We were quickly acquainted with the crew of Alvei, as many of them were sailing with us on Eros for the regatta.



We pulled out of English Harbor and set out for the first race of the regatta. It is no coincidence that Antigua Yacht Club is located where it is. It's located in a perfectly sheltered harbor used as a hurricane hole (meaning a safe place to hide out during a hurricane), while also only being a convenient ½ mile from the open ocean. Once out of the harbor there was no pretending it was going to be an exciting day. There was hardly any wind, but we made the most of it and won 2ndplace in our class. The first day was like summer camp- trying to remember over 30 crewmate’s names (thank God for name tags), worrying if I was in the way, worrying about doing too much or too little, and so on. But by the second day, that was all gone.


We had such a great crew aboard, and I couldn’t help but feel like I had spent weeks with these people, not just a few hours. There were countless Mainers aboard as well as people who grew up sailing on the Long Island Sound just as I had. And everyone was familiar with Newport, where I attended IYRS. There were long time sailors, brand new sailor, engineers, photographers, painters, retirees and unpaid crew. Most importantly, there was a shared love for the water and an equally shared appreciation for the chance we were all given to sail with Eros.



On the third day of the regatta, we finally got some wind! It was easy to fall in love with a boat like Eros in any weather conditions, but having no breeze the first two days made enjoying her sailing capabilities all that much better when we got up to speed at just under 12kts. We didn’t win that day but we all felt like we had. Smiles were everywhere and they carried straight from the finish line, to the free Happy Hour, to the Royal Naval Yacht Squadron Tot Club (look it up if you don’t know it), to my crew singing an original sea shanty for all to listen (our apologies, we tried), and finally on the dance floor at Abracadabra’s, a local bar.


The last day of racing also had great racing conditions and we again managed a second-place finish. After our last sail, we all exchanged phone numbers, goodbyes, and shared pictures in the group chat. Some people were leaving the next morning and others stayed for the award ceremonies the following night. On that last day, we didn’t need name tags anymore.



On board a boat like Eros, with a crew of 30 people and a half hour between tacks, there is a lot of time to sit and talk. The phrase, “it's a small world” came up more times than you could imagine. The expression is true on some levels, yes there are 8 billion people on Earth and it is crazy how we all seemed to have so much in common, but I hate to let that be the end of the thought. Everyone at this regatta has varying levels of privilege that allowed us to be a part of the ‘small world’ of sailing. That privilege could be having amazing parents that enrolled you in sailing lessons as a child, even though they had never sailed before. It could be stumbling into a family that undoubtedly altered the course of your life for the better. You could be lucky enough to have another family sponsor your entire summer of racing and hide it from you as a child so you don’t feel any lesser because of it. Or you could have an employer that trusts you enough to have you represent them at something like The Classics. Those are just a few of my examples, and I can’t thank my parents, the Pott’s, the Clarida’s, or Lyman Morse Boatbuilding enough for those privileges in which have granted me. Some corners of the sailing scene are extremely competitive and tend involve people with inflated egos. Those people, in my experience, never seem to acknowledge their privilege. Not outwardly at least. However, the people I was lucky enough to be surrounded by in Antigua, are not those people. Every person I spoke to seemed to have a great story of where they had come from and appreciated and embraced all the opportunities they had been given. Be it a Captain that sails you around the world, a family that lets you embrace your love of sailing, or simply a life that led you to sunny April day in Antigua.



Along with the expression “it's a small world”, the phrase, “I’m really lucky….” was among the more frequently said terms of the trip. We were lucky to have talented photographers to capture the amazing time we all had (Patrick Sikes Photography and Anna Boulton captured the photos used here). We were lucky the weather cooperated. We were lucky to have Cameron, the owner, allow us aboard Eros when he could have been chartering instead. We were lucky the four permanent Eros crew were as good of leaders as they were while still providing as much joy as they did. And we are all lucky to be a part of this small, beautiful world of sailing.

 

 

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2 Comments


Peter Crawley
Peter Crawley
Apr 26

Well said, Tristan! Sounds amazing!

Is the Copper & Lumber Club still in English Harbor?

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tsess3
Apr 28
Replying to

It is, we stopped by there for a few drinks. Cool spot!

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