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1 April 2006, 09:43 am
Light Air But Plenty of Racing
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BVI Spring Regatta 2006
Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Wind was the word on everybody's mind as skippers and crews aboard a record 154 yachts wondered if they would compete on the seas or retreat to a rum punch on this first day of sailing in the 35th annual BVI Spring Regatta.
No ALT tag specifiedAfter a delayed start of less then an hour, the fleet took their mark in the light six to seven knots of breeze that Mother Nature blew across the three courses set in the Sir Francis Drake channel.

In Racing A, Roger STURGEON of Massachusetts, USA, sailed his Transpac 52, Rosebud, to a first (1-3-1, 5), besting Puerto Rico's Tom HILL, Sr., driving his sleek Reichel Pugh 75, Titan XII, (2-1-3, 6). HILL isn't used to being in this position, yet his performance did continue to earn him a class lead in the Caribbean Big Boat Series, a three-race event that kicked off at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and concludes at Rolex Antigua Sailing Week. Daniel MEYERS, Custom 60, Numbers, finished third (3-2-2, 7) in class.

Trinidad's Tim KIMPTON made Caribbean sailing history by bringing the first Melges 32 to the region, a feat he handily let fellow competitors in Racing B know about by breezing by them to a first in class (1-1-2, 4). Former owner of the Henderson 30, Crash Test Dummies, KIMPTON, who changed boats but not boat names, said, 'The hull and rudder are built by Soca Sails in Trinidad. Paul (AMON, owner of Soca Sails) is my good mate. I got to ride on the prototype, which was launched in December of 2004. That's how I got introduced to the boat. It's a new class and we first sailed it at Key West Race Week. We ended up placing third in class. Then, we just took delivery of it a week ago in St. Thomas and this is our first Caribbean regatta. Like the Henderson 30, it's turbo-charged. In light winds it sails really well. In heavy winds, it's a rocket ship.'

Also in Racing B, Wisconsin, USA skipper, Dave WEST, drove his Farr 39.5, Chippewa, to a second (2-2-1, 5), while Martin JACOBSON, from Connecticut, USA, rounded out third aboard his Swan 44, Crescendo (5-5-3, 13).

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© A J Blake
James DOBBS, hailing from Antigua and sailing his Olson 30, Lost Horizon II, reveled in the light breeze and led Racing C (1-1-2, 4). St. Maarten's Frits BUS, driving his Melges 24, Carib.natufit, was hot on Dobbs' heels and in second by one point (2-2-1, 5). The BVI's Guy ELDRIDGE finished third aboard his Melges 24, Mistress Quickly (4-3-4, 11). 'Its tough to beat an Olson in moderate wind conditions. Under 7 knots we're light and can sail away and above 14 knots we can plane. But in that 8 to 14 knot range, an Olson has the advantage. Add to that the fact that Jamie DOBBS is an excellent light wind sailor.'

In Racing D, and fresh from a Rolex win, Puerto Rico's Antonio MARI, led the fleet at the helm of his J/80, Ex Mero Motu, (3-1-3, 7). Inching up on Mari was St. Thomas' John FOSTER, aboard his newly rebuilt Kirby 25, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1-7-1, 9). 'We're getting the boat more finely tuned with each regatta,' FOSTER said. Foster's fellow islander, Chris THOMPSON, rounded out third in class aboard his J/27, J-Walker (2-2-5, 9).

Thirty-five years seems to be a charm for the BVI's Peter HAYCRAFT, who has raced in every Spring Regatta and who led the Racer/Cruiser class aboard his stalwart Sirena 38, Pipedream (1-1-2, 4). 'We had two good starts and a not so good one on the third. Boomerang (Pat NOLAN'S J/33) would have beaten us if they didn't have a mishap in the third race,' said Pipedream crewmember, Christian KAVANAGH.

Kick 'Em Jenny, Ian Hope ROSS'S Beneteau First 36S7, finished second to Pipedream in Racer/Cruiser (6-3-1, 10), while the BVI's Cynthia ROSS ended the day in third aboard her J/30, J. Doe (2-5-5, 12)

In the light air, the boats on the Norman Course were only able to sail one race today. The race committee sent them from mid channel leaving Norman Island and Flannigan to starboard and back to the finish.

Sailing in the Performance Cruising A class, Stay Calm, Stuart ROBINSON'S Swan 70, with Olympic sailor Ben AINSLIE on board, was the big winner. Their time corrected out slightly more than two minutes faster than second place Jeroboam , an Italian Swan 45. Third place Swan 48, Avocation, finished 19 minutes corrected behind Jeroboam. Matt ABBISS, from Disco Inferno, today's fourth place finisher, commented, 'Our boat does not like light winds. Yesterday, sailing downwind from Bitter End, was brilliant. It is why you come to the Caribbean.'

In Performance Cruising B, Christopher LLOYD'S Three Harkoms, a modified Beneteau 445, finished today's race with twelve minutes corrected to spare but due to a starting line incident, the boat was disqualified. First place in class went to Ron NOONAN'S Wildflower followed by Diva, skippered by IJ, Robin TATTERSAL and with Pat BAILEY, another IJ, working as tactician and placing third was Tony SANPERE'S Cayennita.

Unfortunately on the Norman course, Performance A and B were the only classes in which all the competitors finished before the time limit. Even with a shortened course, there were boats that were scored as DNF in the dying breeze. This led to a number of unhappy sailors but it was all put into perspective by Diana AUGSPURGER, from Buffalo, N.Y., who said, 'Yes, we suffered all day in the Caribbean sunshine on the back of this boat in Tortola but we can't expect much sympathy from the rest of the world.' Referring to the recently built facilities located behind the hotel reception, she added, 'As advertised, Nanny Cay has the best marina showers in the world.'

Although over half the class did not finish before the time limit, today's race was won in Bareboat A by Rob SWAIN'S Sailing School. Team 020 was second and Cacafuego finished third. Bareboat B only had two out of ten boats that did not finish before time was called. Chess, sailed by Jan SODERBERG, and who has won more regattas than we can count, won today's race. He was followed by Tom BARTLETT and Neil HARVEY in Southeby's International Realty. Southern Comfort, sailed by HARRIS was third.

In Jib and Main, Swan 56 Clover III, sailed by Neal FINNEGAN, finished the race in just a little over three hours and was scored first in class. They were followed by a CS40 TM, Elixer of Life, in second place and another Swan 56, Mensae, in third place.

The Multihull class has seven entries this year. Piglet won today's race, second went to Mike HIRST sailing his new trimaran called Manta and Richard WOOLDRIDGE placed third with Triple Jack.

In a sad twist of fate, after scoring two bullets, Fraito LUGO on Orion (1-1-17-6) blew his near perfect day with an OCS in the third race. After four races, they are in third place. Chris CURRERI, with Brand New Second Hand (2-3-12-1) is in second and the BVI's own Robbie HIRST holds the top spot. (5-2-1-2, 10). After the day's racing, Robbie commented, 'There are still 10 races left. In this boat, racing is so close that it's still anybody's game.' George Lane, who is crewing for Robbie, commented, 'Orion was smoking today. Being over the line early really cost them….Racing with Robbie is as good as it gets.'

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Laser Action
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There are three classes of Lasers sailing, standards, radials and 4.7's and scores are available by class and by fleet. The top three in fleet are the first three in the standard rig. Thomas BARROWS (1-3-2-1), who won the U.S. Youth Sailing Championships in Lasers last summer, is tied for the top spot with Hugo ROLLER (2-1-1-3). Daniel ALSOP (3-4-3-2) is in third place.

In the radials, the women rule the roost. Sidney JONES (2-1-6-2), from St. Croix is in first place, Mimi ROLLER (3-3-5-1), is second and Emma PAULL (1-5-3-3) is in third. After the day's racing, Emma said, 'It is a very competitive fleet and the kids that are moving from Optis to Laser Radials are really good at starting. The race officer did a good job with what he has been given. Hopefully tomorrow there will be more wind.' The heavier weight of some of the boys in the class worked to their disadvantage in the light winds. 'The tactics are much harder, so is getting the boat speed,' said St. John's Max NICKBARG, who ended the day in fourth place.

There are only two 4.7's and at this point, Alex ANDERSON (1-1-1-1, 4) is leading Morgan BRYAN(2-2-2-2, 8). 'I knew it was going to be light winds, so that's why I choose to sail a Laser. It was a first for me and it was a lot of fun. Normally, I'd sail an Optimist or sailboard', said Alex.

Buoyed by Olympic aspirations, Puerto Rico's Francisco FIGUEROA, led the beach cat class aboard his Hobie 16, Heineken (1-1-3-1, 6). 'I've been sailing since I was four and sailing beach cats since I was thirteen,' Figueroa said. St. Croix's Tom AINGER aboard his Inter 20, Caribbean Auto Mart, placed second (2-2-2-2-, 8), with fellow islander, Doug DERUE, on his Nacra 5.8, Wave Magnet, in third (3-3-1-3, 10).

For the second day of racing in the BVI Spring Regatta, presented by Nanny Cay, weather predictions are for a little more wind. Everyone is hoping that will be the case.

For full details on the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival including daily news, photos and complete results from the 2006 event, visit the official web site: http://www.bvispringregatta.org. Available on line and in the Mount Gay Results Tent, real time results are available through technology and expertise provided by Carib Data. Daily video coverage can be seen by visiting http://www.t2p.tv/ For more information on the British Virgin Islands visit: http://www.bvitourism.com. For more information on Nanny Cay Marina visit: http://www.nannycay.com.

The BVI Spring Regatta is presented by Nanny Cay Marina and is jointly owned by the Royal BVI Yacht Club and the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association. The BVI Tourist Board is a Platinum sponsor; The Moorings, Heineken, Mount Gay Bitter End, First Caribbean International Bank, CCT Global Communications and the Sol Group are Gold sponsors; Highland Spring Natural Mineral Water and Maui Jim Sunglasses are Silver sponsors and Fujifilm is a Bronze sponsor.

Linda PHILLIPS (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Titan XIII in action on day one :© Anthony BLAKE
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