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7 March 2004, 09:10 am
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St. Maarten Heineken Regatta
St. Maarten

Which would you rather be, late for the start, or bang on the button? Simple question really, but for a surprisingly large number of boats on day two, choosing the right answer was to make a significant difference.
Take Rosebud, the TP52. They won the big class on day one by a handy margin, but yesterday they seemed to have missed the fact that the start order had been changed and that Spinnaker 1 was now first off so that the maxis in the class wouldn't have a gaggle of multihulls to carve through on the first leg of the course. When they did finally wake up, the rest of the class were long gone.

As forecast, the wind moderated slightly overnight - in fact, at dawn it was flat calm - and at race time there was a good 18 to 22 knots from the north east with the occasional squall roaring through. Some of the squalls were of the blowing dogs off chains variety, but in the main they restricted themselves to about 25 to 28 knots. A full sail day with the chance of some fun offwind. For everyone except the Bareboats and Open classes, Saturday is a two race day. First a trip to Marigot on the French side, then a race round the buoys in the Anguilla Channel.

At the gun for the start of the first race, Chippewa, with Clay DEUTSCH at the wheel, came charging in on port tack, at full speed close to the Committee boat, with Morning Glory just under her lee and behind, though not for long. The Z86 sailed through the Swan 68's lee, squeezed up so Chippewa had to tack off and away she went. Dr Hasso PLATTNER at the wheel looked very pleased, and well he might. Arch rival Pyewacket was further to leeward and Tom HILL'S Titan 12 was well boxed in and taking all sorts of dirty wind.

When the two white boats tacked off the shore it was neck and neck, though Morning Glory held a slight advantage and had clear wind though she was to leeward. At the first mark Morning Glory swept around just a couple of metres in front of Roy Disney and shot off on the reach. Equation was next around, followed by Titan 12, Donnybrook and Spirit, the Volvo 60. Titan 12 took a few moments to dispose of Equation and by the next mark was a 100m behind the twin Z86s. They rounded and set off on the white sail reach, hoisting staysails to the third spreader. They then spoilt another day for Tom HILL by doubling their lead in the first mile. You have to say that Tom's Reichel and Pugh 75 footer would have been state of the art before the Z86s, and she's no slouch, it's just that the new boats have overnight set a new benchmark for maxis. The only fly in their ointment is possibly the fact that they have to run their engines all the time they are sailing to operate the keel canting mechanism. Sailing Instructions have to be changed to allow for this - and it be argued that it disadvantages other boats not allowed power assistance. Perhaps there should be some open discussion. I am sure Tom HILL would have an interesting few words to say on the subject.

Seventeen knots from the Press Boat wasn't enough to keep up and very quickly the terrible twins were over the horizon - well, round the end of the island really - with the rest of the fleet struggling to stay in touch.

And Rosebud? She started about a minute and a half behind the fleet, and by the second mark was getting back in touch. This Transpac 52 is a real flyer and while some might say she rates rather well under CSA, she is impeccably sailed - apart from the start that is - and got up to 5th on the water, just behind Equation, Bill Alcott's turbo Andrews 68. Chippewa had a bad day by her standards and was 11th on the water and 6th on handicap. Rosebud corrected out to be 2nd by 35 seconds. Some flying machine!

Interestingly, though Morning Glory won and Pyewacket was 3rd, Titan 12 was only 17 seconds behind Pyewacket and 1 minute 29 seconds behind the leader. Perhaps Hill had a better day then expected after all.

And his day got better and better as it went on. Tom, whose slight figure looks almost lost at the wheel of the big red boat, enjoyed superb conditions for a windward leeward, and was third on the water behind Morning Glory and Pyewacket. Then when the WinScore computer had done it's thing, Titan was second, just over a minute behind Hasso PLATTNER's boat and 20 seconds ahead of Roy DISNEY'S. Rosebud was beaten for horsepower but still managed fourth on handicap.

In the Caribbean Big Boat Series, currently Morning Glory is leading from Pyewacket and Titan 12 in the racing class, Starr Trail is storming the racer/cruiser class with a full set of wins, Formula 1 Sailing's Spirit of Minerva and Spirit of Isis are tied in 2nd.

Down in Spinnaker 3, the three Swan 45ODs against Richard MATTHEWS' Flirt and Les CROUCH'S Storm - the boat that apparently removed the Tintamarre mark yesterday, a passing TV boat then hung on to the mark and the boats rounded it until a boat from the race committee arrived with a new anchor - as yesterday two of the Swans led the fleet, though the other, Jack Martin's Vim, languishes at the back.

In the morning race, Plenty, Alex Roepers with designer Bruce NELSON having a bit of R 'n R in the tactician's slot, turned the tables on Andrew FISHER'S Bandit by a good minute and a half, Flirt following along 16 seconds behind. It seems that Flirt's new keel is improving her performance, though perhaps the extra sail area they added might have been a bit of a liability in the breeze. In the afternoon though they allowed Storm to get ahead of them to take third, Plenty and Bandit took the top two spots respectively

Someone who got the start right in the morning was Bill JACOBSON at the wheel of the J46 Vanish. She shot off the line like a scalded cat, headed the fleet to the first mark and shot off into the distance to finish first on the water. Milt BAEHR'S big Jenneau Igoodia started badly and was last but a couple going into the first mark, but she made up time and places during the race to win again, this time by just under a couple of minutes from Vanish. Vanish had a rubbish start in the afternoon, but managed to come through to second as usual, though this time to Matt ABISS' Disco Inferno, a First 47.7. Igoodia could only manage fourth. Vanish and Igoodia now are tied for 1st overall. It's all down to the final day.

In the tiddler classes, Spinnaker 5 and 6, it was the same old suspects once again to at the front in race one, Tony MAIDMENT's Dehler 34 Tango Mike, renamed Budget Marine for the regatta in first for Spinnaker 5, and Tim KIMPTON'S Guardian Star taking Spinnaker 6 by a handy 50 seconds. Interestingly, the two Antiguans that were second in both classes on thew first day were both third yesterday. Bernie Evan WONG'S Huey Too in Spinnaker 5 and Jamie DOBBS' Lost Horizon in 5. In Race 2 the results were an exact copy of the morning, Budget Marine, Vanille and Huey Too, though the first two were only 9 seconds apart. In Class 6, despite breaking her main halyard and jamming everything else inside, Guardian Star won by over a minute from Lost Horizon.

As always, the battle for honours in Non Spinnaker 2 between Hugh BAILEY'S Hugo and Bobby VELASQUEZ' L'Esperance was fierce and pushed boat boats way in front of the rest of the class - 2nd was over 15 minutes ahead again - but this time a silly error by the local boat cost Bobby a lot of distance. You might have thought that the local boat would have read the sailing instructions: All racing marks except the special Heineken yellow buoy are orange inflatables. . . but L'Esperance sailed past the race mark at Proselyte reef and carried on to the St Maarten Yacht Club's Proselyte mark. They would have fired the navigator, but they don't have one.

Full results are available on the event website at the address below.
Dick Johnson (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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