Last May, the lukkaiiri team got the opportunity to make her first trip to an island outside of the Caribbean. Newport Beach, RI, is an island part of one of the two US island states, the other being Hawaii. Situated south of Providence, state capital of Rhode Island and only a couple hours of Boston, the harbour of Newport is also the Mecca of US sailing. Over the years it gave birth to audacious challenges, and was the setting of prestigious events like the America’s Cup.
This year was the turn for the Volvo Ocean Race(VOR)to make a stop before rallying Europe after a grueling race around the world and a long and nerve wrecking leg between Itajaï, Brazil and Newport,RI that saw a change of leadership, and a regrouping of the top teams within a narrow point spread.
As is often the case, such event was the opportunity for technical partners, sponsors and other parties involved to stage their annual meeting and/or parties. This was the case with Zhik, our technical partner which held its yearly Distributor Conference. The program usually includes meeting new faces in the company, looking back at the previous year, plus the highly expected presentation of the new collections. But this year brought some extra spice due to the fact that two of the VOR boats where fully equipped by Zhik, hence the opportunity to get some real life feedback on Zhik products performances in extreme conditions, but also, to meet top level sailors and cherry on the cake, get on board those VOR 60ft One Design.
The Zhik conference was due to start on May 15th in the afternoon, so we decided to take a flight from Guadeloupe on the 12th to leave us some time to drive up from Miami to Newport, giving us the opportunity to(re)discoverthe vastness of the American territory while riding I-95 North all the way to Rhode Island.
Come Saturday, we’re set to go and ready to board when we experience, business as usual in the Caribbean, a.k.a. a flight delay. Two hours later, the delay is“upgraded”to a flight cancellation. Like normal! The airline handles things properly and makes sure we leave in the morning. Most passengers are going home, so, they are mellow, still full of souvenirs. We’re not, so we start counting(miles/hours,….)and see our road trip turn into a potential marathon drive.
Next morning, after a good night sleep in a hotel, we take our flight as expected and land in Miami in early afternoon amid thunderstorms and heavy rain.
The bad weather that should have been tailing us had we left on Saturday was now right on us with heavy rains all the way to Delaware.
Twenty seven hours, a few fuel and coffee stops, we finally made it to New England territory and were (rough and) ready for some local action.
After a good night sleep and a solid breakfast, we took the road and did the last few miles operating us from Newport, unveiling a spectacular and gorgeous panorama, imagining what Native Americans and Europeans felt when they first discovered this green and cold lands.
Next episode: The Zhik Annual meeting