The distance competition is a traditional second-day sweep through the beautiful islands and Cays north of St. Thomas, USVI, where the three-day event is being hosted for its 31st year by the Thomas Yacht Club.
Sailing in eight classes, the fleet of 91 boats found relatively smooth conditions inside Pillsbury Sound where they were started in 15-18 knot breezes. After two legs, the boats followed a course into more open waters where 10-12 foot waves tested the fortitude of even the best sailors.
"It was ugly out there,"
said Carlos CAMACHO (Guaynabo, PUR) who led Spinnaker Racing Class 1 after day one with his J/105 Abracadabra. "I think it was hard for everyone, but it was fun overall."
Camacho talked about an amazing start and solid performance to the first two marks within the protection of the surrounding hills.
By the time he began a double-lap windward-leeward course outside the Sound, however, some of the boats from the next classes had begun to pass. By the end of the four-hour race, Abracadabra had slipped to fourth in its class and third in overall standings. Moving up to first overall from third yesterday was Carlo FALCONE'S Caccia Alla Volpe out of Antigua, which finished second in this class last year.
For the regatta's biggest boats, which sail in the Spinnaker Racing ("Over 50 ft.") Class, the waves were no less of a challenge. "There were times when whole hulls would disappear and you could just see the heads of crews,"
said Gregory PETRY (Philadelphia, Penn.), crew aboard Jim MULDOON'S (Washington, D.C.) Custom 72-footer Donnybrook. "But by our second lap on the outside windward-leeward course, the breeze softened and the water flattened, making it easier."
While Donnybrook finished last on corrected time among seven boats in the class, Rosebud, the Reichel/Pugh Transpac 52 owned by Roger STURGEON of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., was the flavour of the day, posting victory to move from fourth to second in the overall standings. Despite being over early at the start, Flirt, the Corby 50 owned by Richard MATTHEWS of Ipswich, England took a third to maintain his third overall, while Tom HILL'S (Puerto Rico) Titan XII still leads.
In the Beach Cats, skipper Rosarita MARTINEZ (Carolina, PR) was particularly pleased at her performance aboard her Hobie 16 Yuisa. She considered the waves to be "huge" but held on for the challenge and a third-place finish for a third in overall standings. Martinez, who has sailed this event for the past five years and won her class in 2001, is the 2003 Hobie 16 Continental Women's Champion and is practicing for the Hobie 16 Worlds to be held in Cancun the first week of May. She is closely watching another woman skipper, Susan Korzeniewski of Liverpool, N.Y., who is also sailing a Hobie 16, named WOW, in preparation for the Worlds. "I was pleased she came to the regatta," said Martinez. "She had been the Women's Hobie 16 Continental Women's Champion the year before me, so I won that title from her and now I feel I did very well against her here today." Korzeniewski, who finished ninth today and sits in ninth overall, is a first-time entrant in the regatta and a veteran of the grueling Worrell 1000 event for catamarans. Enrique Figueroa's Movistar/Suzuki/Red Bull still leads the Beach Cats after today.
Racing concludes today with winds of 8-13 knots predicted.