The ladies crew that represented the USA at the last International Regatta hosted in the Azores compiled the following impressions from their trip. Clearly, the Azores, the people, food, the ocean, the land, left an indelible mark on their souls.
Pico and Faial
Rowing in the Atlantic
Small world, gigantic ocean
Awesome chance of a LIFETIME!
Gloria DeMello Gundersen
My best day would be the regatta Pico. Being in that endless arc of Azorean whaleboats, being towed out to the start of the race with a crew I hadn’t met before. 22 boats in all. It felt so new and wonderous and at once, something eternal!
This past regatta really has reached all my expectations. People from both sides of the Atlantic relating to each other through whaleboat racing at its best. It’s not the win but the people we touch. I for one commend my teammates for a job well done. Their performance was stellar and I feel very thankful to be part of this group. The story continues…It’s the friends we meet along the road that make the journey worthwhile.
There were so many things that I’ll treasure…the comradely between not only our team, but with the women of the Azores…the dolphins at the finish line when we ALMOST caught Faial…the painstakingly designed sidewalks…the welcoming people…the whale watch aboard Pedro’s zodiac…the glass bottom boat…the delicious food…putting our studied Portuguese to the test thanks to Nancy Quintin and Mario…visits to the museum and the pig roast. Beauty was all around us…and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity of representing the USA in the VI International Whaleboat Regatta.
It was a fine day for a sail in Faial. The EUA women, decked out in red race shirts and smiling with excitement, raised the mast, and paddled out to the towboat. Soon the final horn sounded and we were off, clearly in the lead. Making a jibe, we took on water, righted ourselves, but then it happened again, this time the sailors gently slipping and sliding into the not-so-cold water. Grateful to have Tom aboard to lead the recovery, the mast was released. We righted the boat and began a bumpy Nantucket sleigh ride, via a towboat, past the viewing jetty, back to the ramp, a bit black and blue, but still smiling. The second race was a breeze.
First race: We are doing good–in second place. Tom and I are keeping an eye out for the first mark and Faial team. Can we make it yet? No, not yet.
Faial didn’t make the mark! What are they doing, are they continuing? They didn’t make the mark, they have to turn around. I am going to protest if they don’t. Let’s tack, we can make it now.
First place, oh boy and we have some speed going. It is windy, way too windy. Faial went down. What do you mean Faial went down. Anyway, no time to look, we are literally racing to the gibe mark. Not good, we have not practiced this much and definitely not with this speed and this amount of wind. Too late now, we are at the mark.
Turn, turn! I can’t. The rocks are coming close real fast. “Couldn’t they have given us a bit more space to jibe”
There she goes… HIKE, HIKE!!!! I can’t hold her. Oh well, that is it. The second day and my life jacket is going to inflate, bugger. Poof! I look to my right and see surprise on Sharon’s face and “poof” goes her life jacket.
I start laughing. “Hay, at least we are making headlines” right in front of an audience on the pier, the Mayer of Horta, and camera man with rolling camera in the rubber boat that came to our rescue. Dyan was in that boat too and was counting heads. We were all there, safe, unharmed, laughing and exited.
An Ocean: brimming with whales, dolphins, and other sea life.
Sailing, Rowing, and Panoramic Views….Scary bus ride, but Aguardente helped.
Numerous delicious fish dishes, which I miss…. Wi-Fi, and Peter’s Café; Espresso, Wine, and Vineyards too!
The Azores…Culture, I thank you.
It was amazing to be part of something that not only represented my culture but allowed me to, vaguely, step into my father’s shoes as a whaler man’s daughter. Seeing my family, making new friends, and sharing the entire regatta experience with my fellow team mates – priceless.
Nancy C. Machado Quintin
In the summer of 2011, the Azorean Maritime Historical Society rowing and sailing teams from New Bedford, Massachusetts, of which I am a part, ventured across the pond to the Azorean Islands of Faial and Pico. With their homeland connections, they introduced us to those who live and work in this beautiful country and guided us into the history, the special places, the music, the art, the horticulture, and, always, the fabulous food and wine. The ability to get close and personal, really meet the people and become immersed in the culture happened because we visited with people who are family here and this their home. Always so friendly and hospitable, these whalers, professionals, scientists, sailors and rowers, and families shared meals, dances, stories and histories of this wonderful paradise. We now have such an appreciation of the Azorean culture and the beauty of their islands. How lucky are we to have met these wonderful people who shared with us their homes, their friendship, their fun, their vistas, and the wonderful regatta