Charlotte Amalie's harbor is one of the most picturesque ports in the Caribbean. For sailors, this beauty comes with a beast.
That is, extremely shifty winds blowing off the surrounding mountains, and knowing how to call the shifts correctly, can spell the difference between winning and losing a race. These were the conditions tested during practice on Thursday by the ten teams, including some of the world's top-ranked match racers and their equally talented crews, competing in the 6th Annual Carlos Aguilar Match Race (CAMR), November 21-24, 2013.
"We heard it was shifty here and practice today met our expectations,"
explains the USA's Jennifer Wilson, winner of the 2013 U.S. Women's Match Race Championships and a founding member of the sponsoring Chicago Match Race Center (CMRC). "Shifty can be frustrating, but it's also fun. It means there is always a chance to come back. It mixes things up."
The event's other woman match racer is the USA's Stephanie Roble. Roble is the top-ranked U.S. female match, is at World #5 and competes on the Global Women's Match Racing Circuit.
Finland's Antti Luhta, who is World #25, is sailing in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the first time. "I like shifty winds. What I don't like so much is snow and ice. That's what we have to sail in back home in Helsinki right now."
Rounding out the elite fleet of match racers are: the USA's Don Wilson, World #24 and the number one ranked U.S. match racer as well as founder of the CMRC; the USA's Chris Poole, World #27; Greece's Stratis Andreadis; the USVI's Olympic silver medalist and America's Cup sailor, Peter Holmberg; the USA's Dave Dellenbaugh, who most recently won the 2013 U.S. Match Racing Championships; the USA's Dave Perry, author of Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing Through 2016; and the British Virgin Islands' Colin Rathbun.
Match racing pits one identical boat against another on a short course oftentimes near to shore. On-the-water umpires make instant calls and enforce the rules. The result is very exciting racing up and down the Charlotte Amalie waterfront. Sailors will compete in IC-24s, a local adaptation of a J/24. The CAMR is an International Sailing Federation (ISAF)-provisional Grade Two event.
The race format will be a double round robin series leading to the semi-finals and finals. Spectators are invited to watch the racing under tented bleacher seating where there will be live narration. Viewers around the world can watch via a live webcast on www.carlosmatchrace.com. Racing starts at 9:00. (GMT - 4 hrs) daily.
A group of Virgin Island's school children will have an opportunity to try-on match racing during the Carlos Aguilar Match Race Youth Regatta, which will take place between 11:30 and 13:30 on Saturday 23 November.
The Virgin Islands Sailing Association (VISA) is the organizing authority for the CAMR, namesake for the late Carlos Aguilar, who was an avid sailor. The CMRC is a major sponsor.
Supporting sponsors of the CAMR are the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism; Heineken Beer and Captain Morgan, distributed in the U.S. Virgin Islands by Bellows International; Budget Marine; Hooters; Patron, distributed by Glazer's Premier Distributors, LLC; Choice Communications; Bolongo Bay Beach Resort; Yacht Haven Grande; Gill and St. Thomas Yacht Club.
Daily race results and copyright-free downloadable images by Virgin Islands-based photographer, Dean Barnes, will be available for editorial use on the official event website (www.carlosmatchrace.com