The Derby

We haven’t written a blog post on every training sail and boat prep session since we know it would be boring reading. We sailed last weekend with a dual purpose. The main goal was more time in the boat and developing good downwind speed with the mizzen staysail. The secondary goal was DERBY POINTS. We’ve become somewhat obsessed by the Derby so it’s time to explain the Derby for those who aren’t familiar with it.

Here’s a direct quote from the Watertribe website.

“The WaterTribe Derby is intended to help you get organized, fit and ready for a WaterTribe Challenge. These Derbies are optional but highly recommended whether you are a newbie or a veteran of many WaterTribe Adventures”.


Here’s a little more detail. The Derby is a training contest. We’re new to the EC but we believe that Chief was getting worried that entrants weren’t taking the severity of the race seriously and they weren’t preparing their boats properly or learning how to use their safety gear. He has also made comments that physical training was lacking or disorganized at best for most EC entrants.  This was evident at the start last year in blustery conditions. Some Class 4 entrants didn’t even know how to reef the sails on their boats. So Chief cleverly invented a contest that rewards training sessions in the gym and on the water. Knowing the competitive nature of most entrants, this move was genius. The on water and some on land training sessions require the use of the Spot GPS tracking device which is a key safety component and spectator favorite during the race. Thousands of friends and interested people visit the Watertribe website to view the Spot tracks of the competitors as they make progress toward the finish in Key Largo.

Basically here’s how the Derby works. You get 4 points for a one hour workout in the gym. You can also do an outdoors workout such as running, hiking, biking etc. with or without the Spot. If you use a Spot you can earn more points based on how much distance and how fast you go. Since time to train is at a premium, most people just opt for a gym workout or run and score 4 points per workout. The best way to score the maximum daily points of 25 is an on water with Spot session. You get 1 point for each nautical mile traveled, 1 point just for being out there, and 1 point for each nautical mile per hour you average. So, the ideal training session would be to travel 20 nautical miles at an average of 4 nautical miles per hour. With the bonus point you get the maximum 25 points. The limitation is one points workout per day and only one Spot workout per week is counted. The Spot track is used to verify the distance and average speed of the session. So most people do 5 or 6 gym workouts per week and one long sail or paddle on the weekend. The winner of the Derby gets a free entry in the EC ($395). All others are entered in a drawing with a chance to win for every point earned. So the more points you earn the more tickets in the bucket. The drawing winner also gets a free entry.

We missed the first week of the Derby because we just neglected to read about it on the website. The we got an email from Chief telling us to get off our asses and get in shape. That woke us up and we started out in last place a week late. We’ve worked our way up to the serious group and are now in 6th place (out of 34 entrants) and hovering 1 or 2 places behind Chief. EB likes gym workouts and RWB likes running on his treadmill while carrying a 12 pack for added weight. RWB also walks many miles per day.

Both of us are getting much more fit than if we would have if not motivated by the Derby. We’re also sailing every weekend in all sorts of weather which we definitely wouldn’t have done as aggresively. So Chief, your devious plan is working.

The point of all this background is to help explain the short video attached to this post. We heard that Chief was mildly concerned that 2 newbies were getting close to him in the Derby. We think that he also was kind of shocked that we are sailors and supposedly not as dedicated to training as the hard core kayak group. So now we have more motivation knowing that Chief is looking over his shoulder at us. We emailed this video to him last Saturday while we were out on a training sail. Check it out.

The other more serious part of this session was to work on boat speed and try out our new mizzen staysail. All of our boat prep and new gear has been finished so these sailing sessions are now just developing good speed and technique. It’s also good navigation practice. All of the new sails are perfect and we feel the boat is super fast. It’s still a Sea Pearl so there are limitations to how fast it will go but we feel we have maximized it. Now the variable is the crew and sailing technique. We had about 8 to 10 knots of wind all morning. We sailed across Tampa Bay and turned around at the outer mark for the entrance to Cockroach (nice name) Bay. On the way back we set the staysail. It was very effective from about 100 to 130 degrees apparent wind angle. We saw an immediate 1 to 2 knots increase in boatspeed at these angles. It’s easy to set and douse. It needs very little attention and is stable and easy to trim. The staysail is built out of .75 oz. nylon spinnaker material (light and durable) perfect for the task.

So we ended the session with 21.88 Derby points and had a great time. We’re staying about 25 points behind Chief and hoping he has family commitments over the holidays or decides to go out of town for a few weeks. Actually we both have commitments and may lose ground to the dedicated tribers who are using us as a target. Only a couple of months to go and we still need to do some scouting around Chokoloskee and Flamingo. This thing is getting serious.


3 thoughts on “The Derby

  1. Guys I am really enjoying following along with your adventure. The sailing season up here in Newfoundland canada is firmly over and I am livining vicariously through your blog. Thanks for taking the time to write it and best of luck with the race. I cant wait to see the spot beacon come up on the water trib site race day!

    • Thanks for the support and for following the blog. So far we’re having a pretty warm winter here in Florida. Stay warm up there in Canada (Spring is only 3 months away) or come on down and meet us on the beach at the start of the EC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *