RACING: Painkillers and cheeseburgers
Published on March 27th, 2013
By Leighton O’Connor
When I got to Nanny Cay on Monday for the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival (Mar 25-31), I met up with Trish Jenkins, the press officer for the regatta. I wanted to see what boats I could get on for the next few days of racing to do some on board videos and stories. Trish had a list of about half dozen skippers who were cool with having a media person on board.
I ran through the list with Trish and somebody in the media center chimed in and said Alice Martin, the skipper of the Painkiller Racing, is an interesting character and has done a ton of racing around the world. Alice and her husband are members of the Chicago and Columbia Yacht Clubs, has brought her Sydney 38 to Key West for Race Week, has chartered boats in Key West and Antigua for race week, has done many years of Macs and NOODS, and even chartered a boat for the 2011 ORC Championship in Croatia.
Trish and I tracked down Alice and her crew on the beach having a few cocktails. They were all dressed in bright pink shirts with “Painkiller Racing” monogrammed on the front and a small silver flamingo monogrammed on the back. Yes, very interesting indeed. Alice was very enthusiastic about having me on board for the Round Tortola Race the next morning and told me dock-out time was 8:30. She told me to show up “Sober and on time.” Yes, very interesting.
A little after 0800, I was at the Moorings 50.5 Alice and her husband Ted had chartered for the week. I started my usual filming of the boat from the dock of the crew prepping the boat for the race. Everybody was in their bright pink shirts and pretty cheery. I strolled to the finger of the dock to get some footage of the bow and saw a pink blow-up flamingo duct taped to the bow pulpit with “pink” duct tape! “Oh No,” I thought to myself, “I just signed up for 37 mile race around Tortola with a pink blow-up flamingo taped to the bow. What have I gotten myself into?” Yes, very interesting.
Alice got us off the dock and to the start line pretty smoothly. I was impressed with her boat and crew handling. No flies on this woman. She was pretty aggressive off the start line and handled the boat well. We were a little bit late but she knew her stuff. Somebody tried to roll over her shortly after the start and she kept going up on them to defend. They ended up giving up on Alice and dropping below us.
When we got around the West End, things got a little puffy and boats were rounding up all over the place… but not Alice. I’d look back from the rail to see how she was handling the puffs. She’d tug the wheel a bit and calmly yell for an ease on the main. My very interesting ride was turning into a very impressive ride. Alice drove all but about a half mile of the whole race.
We were doing a bunch of tacks through the cut at Sopers Hole and another bareboat in our class wanted to cross us. Alice yelled “Starboard!” but they were not yielding. Somebody in the back of the boat yelled, “You’re going to hit them Alice!” She calmly yelled, “I don’t care. I’ll protest them.” I whispered to somebody on the rail, “She has real balls.” Again…I was impressed. The other bareboat chickened out and ducked us. The way things looked I thought we were going to t-bone the other bareboat and cut them in half.
About an hour after Alice’s duel in the cut we finished off of Nanny Cay. We took 9th in the Bareboat Class in a fleet of 13. It took us about 5.5 hours to make the trip around Tortola. We sure weren’t at the top of the fleet but I bet nobody had as much fun as we did. It was one of the funniest, most enjoyable sails (races) I have done in a while. And I had one of the best cheese burgers I have ever had…never mind the fact that I was on the rail while I was eating “trying” to almost hike and not dribble mayo on my shirt. Thanks Alice, Ted and the Painkiller Racing Team for a great ride. You and your Painkiller Team haven’t forgotten why we sail. To have fun and enjoy yourselves.