Nov. 11, 2002 – Brisk winds, tricky shifts and stiff currents created challenging conditions on Sunday for the 10 spinnaker and non-spinnaker boats sailing in the Pillsbury Sound Race hosted by the St. Thomas Yacht Club.
Ultimately, John Foster's J/24, Magnificent 4, topped the spinnaker class, while Bill McConnell's Whippet ended first among the non-spinnakers.
"It was a good race. I'm glad we put up the spinnaker, and I think we'll be racing spinnaker more often now," said Chris Thompson, who raced aboard Jackson and Tracy Roberts' Wa-La, one of three IC-24s sailing in the five-boat spinnaker class.
The IC-24 is a reconfigured J/24 design created by club members Chris Rosenberg and boat-builder Morgan Avery. Since the design's launch at the 2001 International Rolex Cup, the boat has competed non-spinnaker. But the flying a spinnaker, which makes this easy-to-sail boat a tad trickier, has always been a capability of the design.
"I really liked flying the spinnaker. It was a good learning experience for the kids, too," said Paul Stoeken, who skippered the relatively newly launched IC-24 OneLove with junior sailors TJ John, Jamie John and Harry Lenahan aboard.
In spite of swift sailing, OneLove lost its forestay just before the last leeward mark rounding. "We were doing great up until that point," Stoeken said. The breakdown, coupled with a tactical error of not crossing the finish line correctly, gave the boat a last-place finish.
Bob Cockayne, whose Island Time finished just ahead of OneLove, said, "We were second to last, but not last. That counts for something. We had a lot of fun."
Amid the T-shirt clad, beer-in-hand, just-for-fun sailors congregating after the race, Foster and his crew stood out as professional sailors in their white race shirts and matching khaki pants. Although they won their class, this regatta was part of an intense training streak rather than an end-all event in itself.
Foster and his crew — Augusto Tromben, Tom Kozyn, Phil Shannon and Tim Smith — will head to Valle de Bravo, Mexico, for the XIX Central American and Caribbean Games, Nov. 19 to Dec. 1.
V.I. Olympic Committee member Lyn Reid and Nick Castruccio of the V.I. Sailing Association "called about two months ago and asked if I could put a J/24 team together to compete," Foster said. "Nick's daughter, CC, was kind enough to lend us her boat. We went over to St. Croix, towed it back, and have been practicing every since — every night from 5 to 7 p.m., seven days a week."
Light wind conditions are expected in Mexico, Foster said. Locally, "The winds die down around sunset, so we've had only 5 to 10 knots to practice in on several occasions," he said.
Foster has competed in sailing events in previous CAC Games in the 470 and Star classes.
For the J/24 event, the V.I. team will compete against seven other entries. Other sailing classes include sailboards, Hobie 16s and lasers. The St. Thomas Yacht Club's Thomas Barrows will compete in Men's Laser, while St. John's Sarah Swann will represent the territory in Women's Laser.
Pillsbury finishers
Spinnaker class:
1. John Foster, Magnificent 4
2. Frank Barnes, Moderation
3. Sam Laing, Uncle Sam
4. Wa-La
5. John Haracivit, Tempest
Non-spinnaker class:
1. Bill McConnell, Whippet
2. David Comeaux, Rustler's Moon
3. Brian Emerich, Northern Lights
4. Bob Cockayne, Island Time
5. Paul Stoeken, OneLove

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