Read All About It The 13th Annual Bone Island Regatta by Alice Petrat
After many weeks of preparation and planning, it is with great anticipation and excitement the 13th annual Bone Island Regatta – Race to Key West 2023 got off to a good start outside of the Venice Jetties.
Sarasota Yacht Club was well represented this year with two boats participating. April with a crew of Barry McClure (skipper/owner), Don Ruth, Michael Westmark, Jeffery Peters, and Michele Lee. And White Hawk with a crew of Greg Petrat (skipper/owner), Matt Petrat, Bob Holsbeke, Matt Holsbeke, Colin Curtis and Dan Caruso.
Many thanks to Hobie Collins for providing and operating a start boat. Our PRO Ken D’Augustino and his son Jason officiated the start. Also aboard was our photographer Rebecca Bolletti. Many thanks to all of them. The race started at 1200 hours on May 17, 2023. There were 20 boats at the start line. The breeze was light at the start, gradually picking up to 10-13 knots from the west, providing a great sail for the 20 boat fleet for the first day. The breeze fell off later that night, most boats were just off Marco Island when the wind became fluky, which becalmed most of the fleet.
The next morning came decision making time, doing the math, can we make it to the finish line by 1400 hours on Friday? Every Skipper had a different opinion and started their engines at different times.
One of the BIR boats, while powering to Key West, saw debris in the Gulf that needed to be cleaned up. Mi Sueno from SPYC, skippered by Ron Kinney with Holando Manzano picked up 13 Mother’s Day balloons floating in the Gulf. His comment, when he was thanked for doing that was,”I’ve seen what they do to turtles.” Again, thank you Ron for your efforts.
There were however, three boats who decided to sail the entire distance. They were Fruition skippered by Bill Gately from VYC, Privateer skippered by Ed Sims from Ocala Sailing Club, and Koinonia II skippered by Garth Reynolds from BCYC. These boats sailed 157½ miles, when they rounded Tank Island, which is a half mile from the finish line, the current was so strong, and the breeze on the bow, they could not make it to the finish line before 1400 hours on Friday.
The BIR is part of the Boat of the Year series (BOTY) the race started off at the Venice Jetties and finished at Key West. It is considered the long distance race for the series. Each boat is required to have a SPOT or equivalent, tracking device. This allows the race committee to follow the boats, it is also live on our website so viewers from around the world can watch the racers as they head down to the finish line, chasing optimum wind. Each racer determines their own tactics for the fastest was to Key West. Not necessarily along the Rhumb line, but predicting the best wind.
The finish line in Key West is between marker R24 and an orange and white checkered flag flying from the dock at the Hyatt in downtown Key West Harbour.
The events begin Friday night with the Welcome to Key West party that was held at Pirates Cove, this is on the waterfront of the harbor. It was packed, with sailors, standing room only, and sailors spilled over onto the docks. Everyone was happy to be in Key West.
On Saturday morning the sailors took a Trolley from the Key West Harbour to the other side of the Island to a residence where we served a continental breakfast and Bloody Marys and Mimosas, most sailors like to start the day off that way.
The final event was Saturday evening with, the awards, dinner and live music at Salty Frogs. This restaurant is both inside and outside, we had perfect weather for this venue. There were 120 people at this event with a buffet dinner which had servers. Everything was great and all the Sailors were happy. Since there were no awards, everyone was excited about the raffle we usually have after the awards.
Thank you to all my volunteers. Volunteers start months before the event and continue until they drive home on Sunday after the awards. Thank you – Volunteers and the Sailors are the team that makes this a great success, and let’s not forget the Sponsors, they play a great part in making this possible.
Until next year at our 14th annual Bone Island Regatta on May 15-18, 2024, wishing you all good health, fair winds and following seas!!