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Racing mode activated

2024 June 1

A liveaboard cruising couple hits the race course in scenic and fun regatta and finds a new reason to love their boat

With the mountains as a backdrop, the fleet races neck-and-neck on Banderas Bay.
Marissa Neely photo


But we loved the idea of getting Avocet out on the race course amongst our cruising brethren, with a crew of our friends. The extra crew not only amped up the fun, it also allowed me to restow the errant belonging that attempted to hurl itself across the cabin and keep an eye on our ship’s cat Cleo, who was used to a much more leisurely kind of sailing. My husband Chris, on the other hand, was eager to push Avocet to her limits and prove that our boat was less couch and more capable cruiser-racer.

“Three … two … one,” the radio squawked.

They might be on a cruising boat, but that doesn’t mean the crew of Avocet isn’t competitive.
Marissa Neely photo 
At the sound of the horn, our crew trimmed the sheets and put their game faces on. Avocet’s bow charged over the start line as she made her way to the first mark, with Talion, a Gulfstar 50, close on our stern. We were the first to start, but we only held that position for a few minutes until we were passed by a handful of legitimate race boats. But Avocet bit in, holding strong as we made our way to the windward mark. Our crew, who we lured onto the boat with the promise of stress-free, just-for-fun racing, was into it and were suddenly very interested in crushing the competition. Avocet was proving herself she was a worthy competitor who was much more than just a liveaboard cruiser. 

With each race, our crew grew more confident, pushing Avocet to her limits while reveling in the thrill of friendly competition. Despite facing faster boats and unforeseen challenges, including a dramatic collision between two other competitors, Avocet continued to defy expectations, ultimately clinching a second place overall.

As we reveled in our success at the post-race party, we realized how grateful we were to have stepped a little bit out of our comfort zone to race. We had a great time with our friends who were bitten by the racing bug as well as our fellow competitors, who we swapped race stories with after racing. There was great camaraderie and a change of pace from our cruising lifestyle. 

Marissa Neely photo 
It was a good reminder to not let the description of your boat define the kind of sailing you do. At cruiser-friendly events like the Banderas Bay Regatta and hundreds more held each year, every crew has a chance to prevail and test their mettle against their fellow sailors. If you don’t have a boat, just ask around: everyone is looking for crew. Find a boat that fits your personality: some boats are highly competitive, others are there for the experience and may have a low-key vibe. 

We were hoping we’d run into the guy on the dock who we’d seen before the regatta. We couldn’t wait to tell him how our “couch” did in the regatta. 

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