After all the hype and all the speculation over the twin Z86s Morning Glory and Pyewacket, at 0920 on a grey and breezy day in the Caribbean waters off St Maarten to paraphrase Dee Smith, the divorce began.
The multihulls started before the maxis in Spinnaker 1- something that was to have a certain relevance later - but nobody really watched, all eyes were on the two white boats as they prepared for the start. Both boats had a single reef and short hoist headsails.
Robbie HAINES, Pyewacket, and Dee SMITH, Morning Glory, stayed away from each other in their pre-start; Robbie eventually opting to start about 150m further inshore than Morning Glory, closer to the island, both boats on starboard tack. At the gun the best start was by the Transpac 52 Rosebud, closely followed by Morning Glory and Pyewacket, with Clay DEUTSCH'S Chippewa surprisingly late off the line. Morning Glory was in clear air and slightly advanced on Pyewacket, but when the first header came in and the boats tacked, it was to Pyewacket's advantage. Morning Glory was just ahead, but 100m to leeward.
Rosebud was quickly overtaken and it looked as though Pyewacket was making ground to windward on Morning Glory. Both boats were taking height and distance from Tom HILL'S 78 footer Titan XII, despite the talents of Peter Holmberg aboard. At the first crossing Pyewacket was ahead by a boat length or two, both boats being surprisingly slow in their tacks despite the apparently rapid manner in which the keel can be swung from one side to the other.
As they approached the mark, there was only a fraction in it, but then Morning Glory fell foul of a catamaran tacking for the buoy and apparently falling into irons. With vocal accompaniment from on board, Morning Glory had to swerve around the offending - protest pending - catamaran, losing about four boat lengths to Pyewacket. At this stage, Titan XII was 3rd, only about 100m astern of Morning Glory.
The next mark is at Proselyte Reef, a reach of a half kilometre or so, and after that the third leg was initially too tight for a spinnaker, though the three leaders all had their poles at the ready. It was also here that the raw speed of the Z86s became obvious. Within the first five minutes the twins doubled their lead over Titan XII. Then up went the grey asymmetrics to the ends of the very long carbon poles and it looked as though Tom Hill wouldn't see much more of the opposition ahead for the rest of the day.
Back at the Fort Amsterdam buoy the rest of the big class were rounding in company with some of the multihulls, Chippewa having made ground to turn before Rosebud and Donnybrook.
Looking back from our press boat halfway up the leg, the trimaran Alacrity shot round in a cloud of spray, bore away and promptly lost her very expensive, three week old carbon fibre wing mast over the side. In falling, the mast or perhaps the boom, struck crew member Dave CULP on the back of the head, smashing him face first into the deck. Luckily a St. Maarten sea rescue RIB was close by and soon had Dave aboard, and was on its way to Philipsburg hospital. The rest of the crew were left to clear up the mess and get back to Simpson Bay, where, a couple of hours later, Dave turned up with a face full of stitches and a bloody nose about twice the size of the one he started out with this morning. Dave also admitted to being aboard a boat that dismasted for no apparent reason just two weeks ago. It might not be a good idea to invite him out for a sail until he gets this out of his system.
Coincidentally, another multihull, the Outre Mer Catamaran Lilly Speed, also lost it's mast, this time with no injuries to anybody - apart from that to the owner's wallet.
Just two and a half hours after the start, two fast-moving rocket-ships came in sight across Great Bay, a grey spinnaker over a white boat leading - and a grey spinnaker over a white hull a few hundred metres behind - but it was only a few moments before we could see that Robbie HAINES and his team aboard Pyewacket had got the drop on Morning Glory. Pyewacket thundered past, and a moment later a big gust out of Great Bay slammed into Morning Glory. The bow came up and soon she was clocking over 17 knots as she ate into Pyewacket's lead.
But it was too late, the line was too high to carry a spinnaker all the way and though Pyewacket seemed to hoist her headsail late and slowly, she maintained her advantage and won by 55 seconds. Though we had hoped that one of the Z86s might have taken the course record set by the Maxi cat Playstation last year, the final elapsed time of 2hr, 47min, 14sec was about 15 minutes slower. Robbie HAINES was a little disappointed not to have beaten the record, but was very happy with the win over Morning Glory and told us that everything had gone to plan, with them opening up an initial lead and then holding about the same distance throughout the race. No breakages and no problems aboard Pyewacket.
Morning Glory was flying a protest flag and after the race Dee SMITH was requesting that the big boat class be allowed to start before everybody else so that there would be no chance of a repeat performance of the obstruction at the first mark by a slower boat. The Race Committee has concurred and the big boats are first off today - no excuses Mr Smith!
In the Caribbean Big Boat Series, racing here, at the BVI Spring Regatta and finally in Antigua Sailing week, the racing class finish was in the order Pyewacket, Morning Glory, Titan XII, Chippewa, Spirit and Venom and in the racing/cruiser division, Starr Trail, Spirit of Isis, Dutch Sailing Team.com, Spirit of Mertice and Extra Dry. Well, that would have been the result except that the three Formula 1 Sailing Farr 65's, Spirit of Isis, Dutch Sailing Team.com and Spirit of Mertice seemed to be paying too much attention to their own battles and not enough to the course card, missing a mark and being disqualified under Rule 28.1.
On the water in the early stages of the Spinnaker 3 race it looked as though the new Soca Sailboats-built Storm was showing Richard Matthews' Flirt the way round, but eventually, on the water and on handicap Mr Matthews and his helper Andy Beadsworth - plus a lot of crew - came home in front by 12 minutes on the water and by three and a half on handicap. They both gave best, however, to Bandit and Plenty, the Swan OD 45s.
In Spinnaker 4, one of the biggest non-bareboat classes, Milt Baehr's Jenneau Sun Odyssey 52.2 Igoodia used her length to advantage to win from Bill Jacobson's J46 Vanish by a handy 13 minutes and more on handicap, but Vanish only pipped Jack Desmond's Swan 38 Affinity by a scant four seconds.
As expected the modified First Class 10 Guardian Star sailed by Tim Kimpton and his crew of Trinidadians sailed well in the windy conditions to win Spinnaker 6 by almost seven minutes. Jamie Dobbs' ageing but amazingly swift Olson 30 was the boat beaten into 2nd, with Local sailor Frits Bus in 3rd with his Melges 2ContactCarib2. exactly one minute after the Olson. With the winner from Trinidad, 2nd from Antigua and 3rd from St Maarten, this class looks like becoming an island battle.
1. Rosebud, Roger Sturgeon, USA
2. Pyewacket, Roy Disney, USA
3. Morning Glory, Dr Hasso Plattner
1. Starr Trail, Robert Mulderig, BER
2. White Wings, Donald Tofias, USA
3, Extra Dry, Gabor Bona, HUN
1. Bandit, Andrew Fisher, USA
2. Plenty, Alex Roepers, USA
3. Flirt, Richard Matthews, GBR
1. Igoodia, Milt Baehr, IVB
2. Vanish, Bill Jacobson, USA
3. Affinity, Jack Desmond, USA
1. Budget Marine, Tony Maidment, ANT
2. Huey Too, Bernie Evan Wong, ANT
3. Finn, Diederik Demesel, BEL
1. Guardian Star, Tim Kimpton, TRI
2. Lost Horizon, Jamie Dobbs, USV
3. 2ContactCarib2, Frits Bus, SXM
1. Volador, Bill Higginson, USA
2, Ciao Bella, Tim Forderer, SXM
3. Island Water World Express, Ian Martin, SXM
Non Spinnaker 2
1. Hugo, Hugh Bailey, ANT
2. L'Esperance, Bobby Velasquez, SXM
3. Elevator Service, Kent Richards, USA
1. Triple Jack, Richard Wooldridge, TOR
2. Free Air Racing Team, Llewellyn Westerman, STC
3. La Vie en Rose, John Fusi, USA
1. Mighty Oak, Dominique Chene, NED
2. Fantastic Lady II, Dominique Mouillac, NED
3. Panauti, Guy Pasquier, STM
1. Chico Chico, Jean-Michel, FRA
2. Little Wing Too, Jean Luc Godefroy, STM
3. Jendabi, Andy Lang, USA
1. Team Heineken, J. M. Behrend, NED
2. Heart for Kids, Adrian Thierry, NED
3. Double Dutch Sailing Team, Ronald Luijten, NED
1. Team Teerenstra, L. W. van Bergen, NED
2. Easy Tiger, Daniel Walsh, USA
3. Team Peak Performance, Ralf van den Berg, NED
1. BVI Yacht Charters, Mark Duranty, USA
2. Guadeloupe Sailing Team, Phillipe Quere, GDP
3. Wishing Star, Chris Godehart, SXM
1, Diffmanagement.com, Erik van den Burger, NED
2. Seabiscuit, Pat Nolan, TOR
3. SG Aschaffenburg, Peter Sommer, GER
1. Vague a l'Aime, Han-Joachim Richter, GER
2. Aproache Spanish II, Pablo Caracena, ESP
3. Foxy 2, Marc de Kort, NED
1. Mexx, Natasja Sesink, NED
2. Boudoux, Malcolm Brown, USA
3. Cybele, Scott Lorette, USA