After Friday's rousing kick-off to the 23rd St Maarten Heineken Regatta - and Friday night's rousing party on Kim Sha, beach - rousing at all was difficult on Saturday morning.
But rouse you must, particularly the Spinnaker classes who always have two races on Saturday. At least the race organisers are kind to the bareboat fleets who have a sensible start time - after 1020 - and only a dinky little course of 19 miles. They made the most of it by staying late at the parties last night and looking decidedly liverish in the morning sunshine; the toughies from the Spinnaker classes 1 to 6 and Multihull 1, by contrast, were every bit the honed athlete.
First class of the day to come to the line in Simpson Bay on the Dutch side for the race to Marigot on the French side of this dual nationality island was Multihull 1. This time the boat formerly known as PlayStation and the rest of the fleet were joined by Paragon, still recognisable, but no longer in her trademark yellow paint.
It's interesting to watch Steve Fossett's starting tactics in the 125ft PlayStation. Today they took a run from about two miles away - somewhere over by the island of Saba it looked like - and arrived at the line just a moment or two late, but far better than Paragon, Orange and Triple Jack. Titchy little An Nou Ay, the Formula 28, got the best start.
Yesterday there was a press conference where Steve Fossett was the star guest and he was asked about the difficulties of starting a boat of PlayStation's size. He admitted that often he would like to be a bit more conservative than the crew, but they always want to go for it. Interestingly Steve steers the starboard hull and Dave Scully the port - you have to wonder if they ever have a disagreement and want one hull to go in one direction and one the other?
After the Multis, Spinnaker 1, the big boats, were next up and for a change, Bill Alcott's white-hulled Equation got the better of Sotto Voce II, coming in from the committee boat end smack on time and with speed - masses of speed. But by the time the fleet made the first mark it was business as usual with Arien van Vemde's dark blue speed machine a couple of lengths in front.
Somebody had forgotten to tell Bill Alcott that he should be playing second fiddle to the new boat, however, and under a massive green and white asymmetric spinnaker sent on the Santa Cruz 70's extra long spinnaker pole, Equation soon closed the gap and then sped by to leeward. After Basse Terre, at the start of the long turn to windward up the Anguilla towards the northern end of St Maarten, Sotto Voce II managed to get past the bigger boat, but Equation was still in touch as they turned downwind. Up went that big white and green kite - but five minutes later it was in the drink and Equation's challenge was nipped in the bud. The Swan 68 Chippewa seemed to enjoy today's weather - the wind has dropped to about 12 to 14 knots - and the long beat, to nick 2nd by five minutes from Equation, Sotto Voce II topped the pile three and a half minutes clear.
Finishing just before the Spinnaker 1 class, the Multihulls were of course led by Mr Fossett's machine - which rocketed across Marigot bay flying a hull and enveloped in spray - but only 20 minutes behind was the flying flea, Claude Thelier and his mates aboard the amazing CDK28 An Nou Ay. The 28 footer, you could probably about 20 of them on PlayStation's deck, deservedly won the race on corrected time by a resounding 28 minutes and 2 seconds from Richard Woooldridge's Triple Jack and Patrick Turner's Tryst, two ageing but competitive, wooden trimarans.
Winning classes in short regattas like this is all about consistency. In Spinnaker 5 the Melges 24 Slam, Cor van Aanholt at the helm, managed to overtake Frits Bus in his sister ship 2 Contact Carib 2, despite the presence of Jesper Radich, the World Match racing number two in Mr Bus's boat, and despite them having a solid windward cover on Slam on the last beat. Shane Attwell's modified Beneteau First Class 10, Ninja won on the water and took 2nd on corrected time, Jamie Dobbs Olson 30 4th by ten seconds only.
Consistency deserted Clay Vaughan's Synergy today, dropping from the top of pile in Spinnaker 3 down to 2nd, the Sun Odyessy 52.2 Igoodia, Milt Baehr using her waterline length to good advantage to win the class in Race 1, though they got back on top in Race 2, with the beautiful Bharlin Blue in 2nd.
Richard Matthews is a heavyweight in the boat building industry, with his highly successful Oyster Yachts, and he has been a stout defender of the Red Duster's success in Caribbean regattas over decades. Here with his new boat Flirt, a John Corby design that has been - how shall we put this? - less than stellar in UK racing, Richard has recruited the services of GBR America's Cup team starting helmsman (deposed), Andy Green to spice up proceedings. Whatever Andy has done, it seems to be working - or was it the two feet sawn off the stern and the mounds of lead chipped from the keel? Whatever, Flirt seems to be enjoying warmer waters and in the first race took a handy win by three and a quarter minutes from the Swan 56 twins, Graham Smith's Vellamo 2 and Andrew Fisher's Vanish 2. In the second race too she took line honours and the corrected time win over Vellamo 2 just as in the morning.
The lucky bareboats only had one race for the day. In Bareboat 1 yesterday's winner Douggie Brookes' slipped to 2nd, with Frank van Kempen in Gamepoint taking the win. One special boat in this fleet, Heart for Kids, Jeroen Myering, isn't performing too well, 17th yesterday, 13th today, but they are raising money for the local Hospital to provide incubators for babies and sports gear for a local school. The sailors giving something back to the community.
In Bareboat 2, Kipling, Walter Freyne, and Brinks Movin' Money, Joop van Werkhoven, swapped places at the top of the fleet today, but in the process ended up in the protest room. The result was a DSQ for Kipling, so no cakes for them this evening.
Daggers drawn in Non-Spinnaker 2, where St Maarten and Antigua are fighting it out in the form of Hugh Bailey and Bernie Evan Wong for Antigua and Bobby Velasquez for St Maarten. Hugh took the class yesterday with Bernie 2nd and Bobby 3rd, and while Hugh made it home in front by just 30 seconds today, Bobby was whuppin' Bernie by close to seven minutes for 2nd. It looks as though the honours might be in Antigua's pocket, however, unless Hugh Bailey mikes a right pigs ear of it tomorrow.