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Marine News from the Great Lakes

Do You Want To Be Part of an Elite Sailboat Racing Team? Now's Your Chance!

Published: Friday, October 27, 2017

My name is Emanuele Bianchi. I live in Chicago, although I grew up in Sardinia, Italy. I am part of a large, extended group of boating men and women. We are a mix of fun, avid sailors, mostly based in the Great Lakes, peppered with East and West Coast, Canadian, and European flavor. Our group is comprised of highly competitive, qualified amateurs with broad experience that includes a mix of ocean, buoy, medium to long distance and one design sailboat racing. Some of us have proudly participated in races such as the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, Sydney Hobart, Fastnet, and over 10 Chicago to Mackinac races bringing home multiple flags. The group includes owners of nine different boats, both cruising and racing (a Tartan 4300, Columbia, C&C 115, C&C 110, J-111, J-109, J-70, and a Tartan 101).

We spend our summers racing on Lake Michigan and taking the occasional cruise as a group. We often have multiple boats participating in the same distance race and coordinate activities together around the race. For example, this year we had a party before the Race to Mackinac with four boats and crew participating (including the winner of the J-109 class, Goat Rodeo)! We love the summers together and mourn the coming of winter every year.

A couple of winters ago, we decided we had to get together as a group over the winter and do some sailing. We kicked around various ideas, including moving a boat to the Caribbean, but the group wasn’t quite ready for that, so we ended up chartering a boat in the St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) and renting a house in St. Thomas, USVI, for a week. It was spectacular! Such a gorgeous setting and such a fun series of races. We all fell in love with Caribbean racing.  Our autumn dreams were full of the "Marine CORPS” - Cold Off-season Racing Program in the Sun!

CARIBELIFE-A-GO-GO…

I firmly believe sailors belong where you sweat and you can hold a cold rum-based drink in your hands… so as a Sardinian with the Costa Smeralda Yacht Club competitions in my memory, I fell in love with the Caribbean beauty and warmth. I decided to move my 1978 Columbia pocket cruiser to the Caribbean the next winter and she was totally refit to perfection in Saint Petersburg, Florida. Members of our sailing group helped me sail it from the west coast of Florida over to Key West and the Bahamas that December. I kept the boat in the Bahamas with other members of our group joining me for cruises to various islands and ended up taking the boat to the Turks and Caicos Islands (the TCI) where I permanently imported her and registered her as local vessel. She is still located in Providenciales, TCI. Unfortunately, she was severely damaged during Hurricane Irma.

Meanwhile, back in Chicago, our group did no real winter sailing the year following the STIR and regretted it. This past year, we got back on track and chartered two Flying Tigers as part of the St. Petersburg, Fla., NOOD Regatta and rented a house there for the week. We all loved it and vowed never to skip winter racing again.

WE WANT TO BE PART OF THE CARIBE LIFESTYLE…

As we watched Hurricanes Irma and Maria roar through the Caribbean, we knew we couldn’t just ignore the strife these islands were experiencing and we decided to take our winter/spring program right to where the tourists, those that were not as tough as sailors, were likely to avoid. I teamed up with another member of our group to buy the Tartan 101 from other owners and take it to the Caribbean this winter. Red Hot Caribe was born!

As MidWesterners, we need the warmth, the embrace of the sun, and the turquoise seas while our boats are hibernate at home. The islands and its islanders, on the other hand, need as much tourism (and the money that comes with it) as they can get. Some friends in the higher latitudes have concerns about heading to the islands, but we think it’s the right thing to do; we will love it and the islands need us.

We've been exchanging emails and phone calls with multiple residents of both Saint Thomas, USVI, and Providenciales, TCI and they, for sure, lived the “experience” in full. These were not stories from news reporters; the islanders are resilient and will not allow a couple of disastrous hurricanes ruin their lives and their marvelous winter.

A few nights ago, some friends from the islands sent us a note saying: "We need to post the fact that the yacht club was open today, we had dinner there, and drinks..." and more on the line: “We need to make sure people do not think we are all dead… life goes on here.

We found we had to convince some people, make sure they knew races were still on (for real!), people were registering! When we started talking about the opportunity to do something tangible, we figured the best would be to start a multi-year racing/cruising program.

We immediately registered Red Hot Caribe for Antigua Sailing Week and, as soon as STIR confirmed their intention to go on with the race, we registered Red Hot Caribe at Antigua as well. Not only for the joy to race our racing sailboat, but also to make sure that we would bring a small share of support to all the ISLAND STRONG people that do not ever give up, even when nature plays difficult games with them.

We are talking to the “locals” and "experts" that are living there and the truth we understand is that they want people to come to visit and spend time and money on the island. Their livelihoods need it as much as they need government support and not be forgotten by the media. They have to repair, rebuild, and, coming March 2018, they will want to have some fun at the regatta’s parties, and cheer for the fastest vessels!

Will all the palms be beautiful? That may not be for sure. Nor will all of the buildings since some will still need to be repaired/rebuilt, but we believe we can do our part by being there racing sailboats!

And we want you to join us!!

The Vessel:
Red Hot Caribe

2015 Tartan 101 (formerly C&C 101), Hull #19
Red Hot is a high-performance fractional sloop with a very generous carbon rig powered by top notch North Sails. Among her other great features are an amazing 60” Carbotecnica wheel, a Complete Garmin suit including a 7” touchscreen GPS at the wheel, 6 multi-use displays (3 large at the mast), an AIS600 and chartplotter.
LOA of 33’ (10 m)
Bridge clearance of 55’ (25.5 m)
Draft 6’6” (1.98 m)
Displacement 8,100 lbs (3674 kg)

For those who are not familiar with the Tartan 101, it is a 33’ racing fractional sloop still in production at Tartan featuring a carbon-fiber mast, carbon-fiber rudderpost, and a uniquely-designed centerline retractable carbon fiber bowsprit, with a nearly 12-foot long cockpit, and a national PHRF rating of 75. Red Hot Caribe, our 2015 Tartan 101, also sports a carbon fiber race wheel and a full suite of carbon North 3Di racing sails. Out in California, Tartan 101s regularly compete with, and swap bullets with, J-109s.

Our plan is to have our Chicago group race Red Hot in the St. Thomas International Regatta in St. Thomas this coming March 2018. Red Hot Caribe is available for a team of six to charter for the Le Voilles de St. Barth Regatta in April 2018, and for individuals to join us for other races this season in the Caribbean including Antigua Sailing Week at the end of April/beginning of May. You can pursue your racing and bring your invaluable sailor’s enthusiasm to the Caribbean this spring, combining fun and adventure with a place that needs your support.

The Mission: Marine "CORPS"

  • Marine “CORPS” (Cold Off-Season Racing Program in the Sun!)
  • Racer, not a cruiser: Red Hot is a high-tech racing fractional sloop available in a beautiful, tropical environment.
  • Racing: Participate in both highly-competitive regattas across the region, and more casual races for those keen to acquire new skills.
  • Improve technique: Red Hot Caribe enables members to work on their racing technique and maintain their sailing fitness during the cold months of the off-season.
  • Explore the Caribbean: Red Hot Caribe gives members sailboat access between races and deliveries, an exciting opportunity to explore nearby islands and enjoy local culture and nature.
  • Longevity: We will use member feedback to improve the Red Hot Caribe program and ensure its sustainability for years to come.

WE WANT YOU TO JOIN US:
Charter a Racer for Les Voiles de Saint Barth Regatta

Red Hot Caribe is offering a great opportunity to race in one of the most prestigious competitions in one of the most exciting parts of the world.

  • The package includes yacht race registration to lesvoilesdesaintbarth.com
  • The yacht, with its amazing set of brand new N.S. 3DL racing sails, will be ready for the crew the Friday before the races and could be available for cruising around Saint Barth 3 extra days after the regatta.
  • Yacht chartered to a six-member team (plus one of our USCG-licensed crew for insurance purposes)
  • If any of the charterers would like to extend their stay after Saint Barth Regatta for a week, they would be welcome to sail on Red Hot over to Antigua. All included in the Saint Barth fee of...
  • Price $8000
  • Contact for more info: [email protected] or call (312) 285-5305 

tags: Caribbean Islands, Charters, Racing, Sailing

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