– One month after his victory, José Carlos Prista, owner and skipper of “Xekmatt” talks about this “unique adventure”, organised by the Monte Real Club de Yates and Angra Iate Clube
– José Carlos Prista, at 68, with an average of 30 races per year has a long resume of victories in major trophies such as the Príncipe de Asturias Trophy
Adventures and misfortunes go hand in hand with great sailors. Portuguese sailor José Carlos Prista from Cascais, with his enviable sailing resume, could not have missed this unique event. “I am very attached to the Azores, I participated in two editions of the Atlantic Cup and spent most of my youth on the island of San Miguel, practicing diving and spearfishing”, said the skipper of Xekmatt, the winning boat of the first edition of the Baiona-Angra Atlantic Race. “Also, I couldn’t miss an offshore race organised by these two senior clubs”, he added.
The preparation lasted several months, from obtaining the necessary certificates, purchasing the various types of safety equipment to upgrading the electronics on board…all necessary for the crew and the Xekmatt boat to be ready for the race, and complete the journey safely. However, the project nearly ended before it started due to a strong storm at 50 knots which caused damage on board. But at no point did they consider resigning, and after managing to repair the damage on board, they were able to start the race in Baiona.
The forecast for the first few days of the race was complicated: low pressure north of Finisterre, with winds reaching more than 30 knots and choppy waters. They set a strategic route which they calmly followed to prevent any breakdowns. “We had a very tough two days, almost without food or a chance to rest”, commented the Portuguese skipper. But, as they say, after the storm comes a calm and the crew knew how to recover, and after much effort and an engine repair, they managed to return 100% to the competition.
The wind died down, allowing them to sail and hoist the mainsail, and therefore recover the distance to the rest of the fleet. The next day they were already facing the winner of the first stage, the Saint Maxime. However, in the last two days of the race, the wind returned to torment Xekmatt’s crew, who were already dreaming of the stopover in Angra do Heroismo. The Saint Maxime continued to attack and managed to arrive first, while the Portuguese achieved a very well fought second place, the rest left behind some 150 miles from Terceira Island.
After a wonderful stopover, a victorious second stage
The second stage, compared to the first, was completed without major setbacks. Some changes in the crew, namely the skipper and two experienced crew members leaving and two rookies joining, made them wary at first of their potential to succeed. However, the strategy worked perfectly.
Again, a low pressure in Finisterre shaped the crew’s strategy, forcing them away from their competitors. They had to change the route and go further south than expected, distancing themselves some 100 miles from their direct competition, Cleopatra, as the Saint Maxime had retired, which could have cost them victory. For four days, they sailed thinking they had missed the podium.
The arrival of a fresh northwesterly wind on the penultimate day allowed the boat to sail at speeds of 10 knots. “We recovered the distance lost during the first days of the race with the distance needed to win the stage on corrected time, and as a result could be the first boat to cross the finish line in Galicia”, said José Carlos Prista.
In short, José Carlos Prista’s crew managed to, despite adversity, complete two races back and forth between Baiona and Angra do Heroismo, thanks to a sensational strategy.
“More, in two years time”, enthused José Carlos Prista. The two clubs are planning to organise the second edition of this successful race in 2018 and have confirmed their agreement with the Monte Real Club de Yates and the Angra Iate Clube, the two organisers of the first edition, with the idea of turning the Baiona-Angra race into the benchmark of sailing in Spain and Portugal.
About Yacht Club Angra
The Angra Yacht Club is located in the Puerto de las Pipas, in the town of Angra do Heroismo, on Terceira Island in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. It was founded on October 27, 1995 and declared a community facility. The club is relatively new and was set up to provide the 35,000 inhabitants of Angra do Heroismo the possibility of practicing water sports.
The club is small, yet has high expectations. The club has grown considerably in recent years, not only in terms of membership but also in terms of revenue and activities. Its visibility and reach in the Azores is noteworthy with the club now being the second largest in the archipelago.