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The Saga of the Bent Toe — How to Win Races on a Small Budget and Young Crew By Dave Gale

The crew of Bent Toe. From left to right: Jeff Gale, Joey Gale (age nine), William Cash (age nine), Charlie Cash (age 10). Sammie Williams (a girl, age 10) is not aboard in this photo. Sammie was in Abaco race number five, when they won the Independence Day race. Photo by Dave Gale.

The full crew under spinnaker. The spar holding the spinnaker on the foredeck is a broken-off Sunfish mast lashed down with rope. Photo by Dave Gale.


class. The other classes were: Mother Tubs, Catamarans, and Trimarans. Except for two extreme racers, which charged actual miles ahead on the first leg, Bent Toe beat boat-forboat the other 10 or more fast cruising boats in the class and beat the two extreme racers on corrected time. A great story about getting kids into sailing early on. They had a ball, got rained upon, splashed upon, ate sandwiches while sailing, and after anchoring, jumped joyfully overboard to cool off and to swim ashore to Parrot Cay.

ust two weeks before the start of Regatta Time in Abaco 2010, a friend of our son Jeff, Ron Engle, gave him a Hurricane Floyd-wrecked Beneteau First Class Eight, a 26foot swing-keel racing sloop, popular in France in the 1980s. Ron had become discouraged after doing a fair amount of hull repair and was considering turning the boat into an artificial reef. Jeff towed the gutted and scarred-up hull home—sans mast, boom, rigging, sails, safety lines and their stanchions, and lots of other nautical things needed for sailing. Jeff found a too-tall catamaran mast and cut off about 10 feet. He bought new standing and running rigging and used Farrier trimaran sails. He made a tiller from a broken Island Marine oar and added an extension from his new Sunfish. Then he fastened a broken-off Sunfish mast to his foredeck with rope for an on-deck spinnaker pole. His first sail in Bent Toe (renamed because she was no longer a true Beneteau) was to the starting line in the third Abaco race. His crew was: his son, Joey, nine years old; Joey’s nine-year-old friend, William Cash; and William’s 10year-old sister, Charlie. They did pretty well, finishing fourth. They raced the next day, with a not quite-so-good result of eighth. Two days later, in Abaco race number five (no sailing practice, but with an additional crewmember— Charlie’s 10-year-old friend Sammie Williams), they won the Independence Day Race in the fastest monohull


September 2010



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