April 6, 2003 – U.S. Virgin Islands sailors claimed two first-place finishes in this weekend's B.V.I. Spring Regatta.
Keen crew work and a minimum of mistakes in a highly competitive field led St. Thomas's John Foster to win the Racing C Class. "There were at least five or six boats in our class that could have overtaken us at any time," Foster said afterward. "Our advantage was the ability to upwind and downwind fast."
The ability to rebound from boat breakdowns and crack sailing helped St. Thomas's Terry Jackson, sailing his Tornado, Century 21, in the Spinnaker Beach Cat Class with crew Morgan Avery, to finish first in this class. "We had some breaks, were able to fix them and were back in the action," Jackson said. "The racing was great."
A record 139 yachts competed in the regatta, the last of the Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle series that started with the St. Croix International Regatta in February and also included the Puerto Rico International Regatta in March.
New this year to the B.V.I. event were three areas of sailing action: Spinnaker racing boats to the east of Sir Francis Drake Channel, bareboats to the west and a separate course for the growing IC-24 fleet near hosting Nanny Cay Marina. The IC-24 is a re-design of a J/24 by two St. Thomas Yacht Club sailors, Chris Rosenberg and boat builder Avery, to create a boat that's highly competitive, yet easy to sail. The class comprised 11 boats, including the first IC-24 built in the B.V.I. — and that one was the ultimate winner, with B.V.I. Olympic sailor Robbie Hirst at the helm.
Day 1 of racing on Friday dawned cloudy, but gave way to bright sun and brisk trade winds blowing 15 to 18 knots, which allowed four races in the spinnaker fleet and six for the IC-24's.
Foster's Magnificent 7 had a magnificent day. "This is our fourth race this year. We're getting our tactics down, dialing in over time. Downwind we're flying," said Johnny Foster, who drives the J/27 downwind while his father, John Foster, takes the helm upwind.
The IC-24 competition kicked off with extremely tight racing action. St. Thomas's Chris Thompson, working foredeck on Moderation with Frank Barnes at the helm, explained: "We had our ups and down. An eighth, 10th, third and first. It was really close." Moderation ended the first day in fifth spot, with Hirst leading the class aboard Crowley Shipping and Thompson's 15-year-old son, Cy, taking second aboard No Expectations.
The day brought a few literally bad breaks.
Puerto Rico's Enrique "Keki" Figueroa broke a rudder hinge on his Tornado Beach Cat and was out of the action, leaving Jackson to take an early lead in the Spinnaker Beach Cat Class.
Slam, a Melges 24 from Sint Maarten, dismasted in the second race.
In the fourth race, Antigua's Jamie Dobbs was sailing his Olson 30, Lost Horizon II, on starboard tack heading to the windward mark when St. Thomas's Sam Laing's Beneteau 10M, Uncle Sam, T-boned the Olson and left about a foot-long hole in the boat's side. After a night of fiberglassing, though, Lost Horizon II with its St. Thomas crew — Floyd Westerman, Adrian Barton, Marston Winkles and Rian Bareuther — was back out on the water for Day 2.
Wind, rain and lightning set the scene for Saturday's racing. The weather was so bad that tour racing was postponed to Sunday, and it was back to the windward-leeward straight-line courses out on the south side of Tortola.
"We were really concerned about the lightning," said Carlos Scov, sharing the helm with Jack Bishop aboard the J/29 Broken Drum, one of three boats competing from St. Croix in Racing C. The others were Paul Lori's Sorceress and Bob Wesley's Cruzan Queen.
After the morning's squally gusts blew through, the wind speed dropped.
"We were leading the pack until the winds got light. Light winds kill us," said St. Thomas's John Haracivet, skippering his Beneteau First 38, Tempest, in the Racer/Cruiser B Class.
Dense clouds gave way to a hazy Sunday sun for Day 3. The race committee tried to run a tour-racing course with the spinnaker classes circumnavigating Tortola. Unfortunately, the winds died to near nil, leading the committee to abandon racing for all classes except the two big boat classes and two beach cat classes.
"We made it, but it was a long race," Figueroa said when it was all over.
Some racing class sailors, including Dobbs, were disappointed with the abandonment. "We were leading our class by seven minutes at the first mark," he said.
Although Lost Horizon II took second in Racing Class C in the B.V.I. event, it successfully defended its 2002 Racing Class C.O.R.T. winner's title with the B.V.I. showing plus a first-place finish in class in the Puerto Rico regatta following a second-place slot in the St. Croix event. For the overall series this year, Magnificent 7 was second.
"Lost Horizon II got ahead of us in the St. Croix regatta," John Foster said. "We narrowed the gap in Puerto Rico and closed it even farther here. We're looking forward to next year and a chance to compete with them again."
For full results, see the B.V.I. Spring Regatta Web site.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.