Feb. 17, 2003 – An all-star crew, a finely tuned and familiar boat and ideal wind conditions added up to success for Antigua's Shannon Falcone as he drove his father's Vallicelli 44, Caccia Alla Volpe, to an overall win and eight cases of Cruzan rum at the 10th annual St. Croix International Regatta.
"We knew what we wanted to accomplish, we came and we did it," Falcone said just before stepping on the scales to determine his winnings — his weight in rum, a signature feature of this event.
The event, the first regatta of the 2003 Cape Air Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle series, attracted 35 boats, from a 16-foot Hobie beach cat to a sleek 50-foot monohull, and skippers representing the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Sint Maarten and Antigua.
Roller-coaster swells with white caps and winds gusting to 37 knots in squalls made weather the prime factor all weekend.
After the first day out, Crucian sailor Morgan Dale, aboard Sorceress, summed up the day for the racing classes: "Winds were up to 20 to 22 knots, and gear failure or gear breakage was a big part of who did well today. And those that were able to minimize damage or high-wind errors did well."
Sorceress, Dale said, experienced "blowouts on a couple of our primary sails — but nothing that some rum and duct tape tonight won't fix. It's really great sailing, great competition, and we're looking forward to get back out there."
Day 2 dawned beautifully sunny, but a squall blew through just before the 10 a.m. start, and from the get-go, wave after wave of rain and blustery gusts made the day challenging.
St. Croix sailor Scott McChain, crewing with Tom Ainger on the Inter 20 Caribbean Auto Mart, said at day's end: "There's certainly a lot of carnage in our beach cat class. Broken masts, broken jumpers. Staying upright and trying not to break anything is our game plan. Still, water everywhere, flying around at 25 to 30 knots, it was great, really great."
Caccia Alla Vople, heavy, wooden, 25 years old, yet meticulously maintained, just reveled in the breeze.
Falcone, who spent the last two years in the afterguard of Italy's America's Cup syndicate, Mascalzone Latino, explained: "The first day was perfect race conditions. But that changed a lot the second day. The squalls coming down were hard for the little boats, but for us it was still good. It was a lot more shifty, we made it through, and we wouldn't mind more of the same."
For the third and last day of racing, the winds and waves did decrease somewhat.
The BVI's John Schultheiss, skippering his Tartan 10 Cold Beer, won the Racer/Cruiser. Reflecting afterward, he said: "Normally we don't do well in high winds; so, today was better for us. It was really a great, beautiful day for sailing. At least we didn't do a Chinese jibe with the boom in the water and nearly broach like we did the first day."
Cold Beer had tactician Tucker Thompson, a past America's Cup sailor and sailing instructor from Annapolis, Maryland, aboard helping the crew work as a fine-tuned team, Schultheiss said.
Glad for the break in the winds on Day 3 were the pre-teen and teen-age sailors crewing aboard St. Croix sailor Stan Joines' Wind Flower. "I always have kids out sailing," Joines said. "Even though they aren't as skilled as seasoned sailors, to them everything is new, everything is exciting, and it's great." The payoff was more than that, though. Wind Flower finished first in the Jib and Main class.
The C.O.R.T. series will continue with Puerto Rico's Heineken Regatta on March 14-16 and conclude with the BVI Spring Regatta on April 6-8.
Results (top 3 in each class)
1. Caccia Alla Volpe, Shannon Falcone, Antigua
2. Lost Horizon II, Jamie Dobbs, Antigua
3. Magnificent 7, John Foster, St. Thomas
1. Cold Beer, John Schultheiss, Tortola
2. Pipe Dream, Peter Haycraft, Tortola
3. Wildflower, Ron Noonan, Marion, Massachusetts
Jib and Main
1. Wind Flower, Stan Joines, St. Croix
2. Winds Glory, Paul Davis, St. Thomas
3. Harmony, Andrew Leiter, St. Croix
1. Caribbean Auto Mart, Ton Ainger, St. Croix
2. Wave Magnet, Doug DeRue, St. Croix
3. Love Never Fails, Bruce Andryc, St. Croix
1. Piglet, Joe San Martin, St. Croix
2. Charis, Llewellyn Westerman, St. Croix
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.