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Local Teams Preparing for TAG Heuer Nations Cup

June 4, 2006 – The USVI Open and Women's match-racing teams have been practicing in Charlotte Amalie Harbor for the upcoming TAG Heuer Nations Cup Regional Final, to be held in the harbor from Thursday to Sunday, June 8-11. Seven national open teams and four women's teams will compete for the opportunity to represent the North American region at the grand final in Ireland. The match-racing format means one-on-one competition with almost continuous action on the opening days. Three races will be running at once, so all the teams can face each other in the first two round robins of racing.
Teams will be coming from Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, the Cayman Islands, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the United States.
The two local teams practicing in the harbor in the last few afternoons and weekends has generated considerable interest from drivers and others on the waterfront.
Match racing in the harbor can bring the sailing within yards of the waterfront, and sometimes only feet or inches separate the boats.
The action will heat up Tuesday afternoon as many of the visiting teams will be out on the water. There will be a match-racing seminar June 6 and 7 for all teams. Many of the Caribbean island teams are planning on advancing their match-racing skills with input from some of the world's best racers, judges and umpires.
Only one open and one women's team will be going to the grand final in Ireland, so the final competition will be fierce.
Top women's teams will include Sally Barkow (USA) and Paula Lewin (Bermuda), ranked 3rd and 25th in the world respectively.
The open division pre-race favorite would have to be Brian Angel (USA), ranked 64th; but teams from both the USVI and BVI are expected to be very strong.
The USVI team of Chris Curreri, Cyril Richardson, Kirst Fedderson, and Morgan Avery has members of Peter Holmberg's match-racing team and America's Cup sailors in the mix.
Mike Green of St. Lucia is another force to be reckoned with, due to his extensive match-race experience.
TAG Heuer is not just supporting the organization of the regional final – the winning sailors will receive a TAG Heuer precision watch to help them advance in the grand final in Ireland.
The International Sailing Federation established the Nations Cup in 1990. The event is based on a series of regional finals with the top crews meeting at a grand final. The aim of the event is to broaden the availability of match racing and provide international match-racing competition for national authorities and sailors at reasonable cost, while acting as an incentive for national match-racing programs.
Held three times previously, the Nations Cup triggers a pyramid of events, with nations holding club and then national championships to select teams to attend the regional qualifiers, which in turn lead to the grand final, where nations are pitted against each other, creating a sound, viable and appealing series of events.
Each regional final will have an open and women's division, with entries limited to only one entry from each of the nations within that region eligible to participate, thus promoting a national event and ensuring that all nations have the opportunity to participate.
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