The Great Hobie Cat Easter Regatta?

- Pictured above are (from left to right) - Laurie Furnell, Chris Burnette, Tim Budd, winner Geraldo Badillo and Rodney Hetzel.
By Tim Budd

Unless you're a sailor, boat racing may not be pure enjoyment or even exciting to you, but after missing out on the Baron Bliss regattas, several Hobie Cat skippers figured it was high time San Pedro had its own egatta. A regatta being a race, and a Hobie Cat being a very fast, light weight, twin hulled catamaran sailing vessel. So, Rodney Hetzel of the Conch Shell Hotel, along with Collin Clark and several Hobie skippers decided to commit to San Pedro's 1st ever Hobie Cat Regatta. The race was to run on Easter Sunday at 1:30 p.m. with a possible 7 boats competing. As of race time, only 4 boats actually entered. The Conch Shell entered 2 boats with the Skipper and Crew of Rodney Hetzel and Laurie Furnell on one boat; and myself with Chris Burnette on the other. Fido's Court yard entered 1 boat with Fido Badillo and his son Andre Badillo. Geraldo Badillo entered his own boat with a young unknown crew member, (surely a sailing expert). Geraldo was the favorite to win based on his known sailing skills and well maintained Hobie 16'.

Acting as the racing committee, Collin Clark set markers for the course to start in front of Cholo's, then due east to the reef in front of Paradise, then a long leg north along the reef to Boca Del Rio and back to Cholo's with two more laps from Cholo's to the reef and back to finish. All captains agreed to standard rules and signals and promptly started the race at 1:30, (2:30 Belize time), while the Caribbean Shells pounded out good music on Cholo's beach.

Jockeying for a good start is probably the most exciting thing about boat racing, second only to crossing the finish line first. If your a competitive Skipper, flipping your boat in a race is also very exciting, but not nearly as rewarding. Capt. Rodney found this out right as the starting flag came up. He found his sales set, but his crew out of position, and wham! He didn't make the starting line, but they had a nice swim. Geraldo crossed clean with a good lead on me and Chris. Fido and Andre discovered that the locking device for their starboard rudder was faulty and never made the line. So it was a two boat race, making it somewhat uneventful for observers after the start.

I thought I would take the lead with my ultra-light crew, (260 Lbs. combined), but it actually worked to my disadvantage when I needed good momentum to tack. Geraldo maintained a firm lead and bested me on every tack as I had my rigging set wrong for the 18 knot wind that day. He finished an easy first with yours truly in second... or is that last? Geraldo walked away with lots of back slapping and smiles, since we never did decide on a 1st prize. It just didn't seem to matter at the time. We'll have to work on that. Perhaps we'll have more entries next time. There were supposed to be 2 races that day but everyone was too pooped after the first. It was a lot of fun for most of us and I really hope we can do it more often, or at least, every Easter Sunday.

San Pedro Sun

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