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Plenty of Action on Windy Second Day of Regatta

Near Miss races right off Great St. James island. (Dean Barnes photo)Different courses, same blustery wind added up to plenty of racing action Saturday in the second day of racing at the St. Thomas International Regatta, race organizers reported.

Shorter round-the-buoy and round-the-island races off the island’s east end combined with 20-plus knots of breeze enabled the race committee to fire off five and four races, respectively, in the beach cat and one-design IC-24 classes.

“We retired during the first race today. It was just too rough and windy at the top mark in Pillsbury Sound where the currents met and there were huge faces. The Nacra 17 sails on the surface, the boat almost planes, and that makes it more skittish to sail in heavy conditions,” USVI’s John Holmberg said.

Holmberg ultimately skippered his Flight Risk to the top of the six-boat beach cat class. Holmberg and crew Terri McKenna hope to earn one of the 10 slots up for grabs for the 2016 Summer Olympics in the Nacra 17 class in September at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Spain.

“We got back in and finished the other four races today and we won them all,” he said.

Team Line Honors, helmed by the USVI’s Taylor Canfield, took over the lead in this 15-boat IC24 class from Puerto Rico’s Marco Teixidor aboard Cachondo. Canfield, the top-ranked match racer in the world, and Teixidor, an All-American crew honorable mention at Georgetown University, have raced against each other since the Optimist dinghy days. Only two points separate these top two teams.

Even IC-24 teams that didn’t top the scoreboard had a great day in the highly-competitive class, one captain said.

“It was challenging with strong and shifty winds. Yet, the races were very tight and that is what’s fun,” said the USVI’s JP Montegut, who skippered Boat Drinks. Montegut is also commodore of the STIR host St. Thomas Yacht Club.

The big boats in the CSA Racing 0 class reveled in the big breeze. Near Miss, the TP 52 of Switzerland’s Franck Noel, clearly showed its team’s proficiency on the short courses of today compared to the distance races yesterday by maintaining and stretching their class lead. Yet, Luis Kallis, jib trimmer aboard the Barcelona, Spain-based TP 52, Balearia, which is currently sixth in this six-boat class, preferred the excitement of the races to town.

“We had everything – sun, wind and rain. Today, it was all sun, staple weather and winds a constant 20 to 22 knots," Kallis said. "We made good speed, but it wasn’t as exciting to me. Tomorrow will be different. I like that the courses and race area changes each day.”

The USVI’s Morgan Dale, driving his Melges 24, Boogaloo, continued his reign as leader of the CSA Racing 1 class. Hot on his heels was Puerto Rico’s Jaime Torres at the helm of his Melges 32, Smile and Wave.

Racing ended early in the CSA Non-Spinnaker class for La Davina, an Ontario, Canada-based Delphia 40.3.

“We had just started to sail a race around St. James island when the mast came crashing down,” explains Peter Buczynski, La Davina’s mast man.

Meanwhile, the USVI’s Warren Stryker’s Hunter 54, Botox Barbie, is second only to leader Reba-Team Red Stripe, a C&C 41 skippered by the BVI’s Jon Charlton, in the CSA Non-Spinnaker class.

“We had three equipment failures yesterday and the sailing was a little like work,” Stryker said. “But today it was delightful.”

In other classes, the USA’s Rick Wesslund’s J/122 El Ocaso remains first in the CSA Racing 2 class as does the USA’s Jerzy Poprawski’s chartered Moorings 4300, Kastor Polux, in the unrated time-on-time class. In CSA Racing 3, the USVI’s Robert Armstrong’s J/100 Bad Girl overtook Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Lipuscek’s J/105, Dark Star, for the top spot.

Racing concludes Sunday with racing in Pillsbury south and along the north shore of St. Thomas. Up for grabs is bragging rights and a place on the podium. Music by Full Circle will greet the fleet from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.

The Regatta Awards Ceremony is slated to start at 6:30 p.m. on the St. Thomas Yacht Club beach, followed by the Final Fling party with Ah We Band playing from 7 to 11 p.m.

More information about the STIR and real-time results are available online at www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com, or by following on Facebook, www.facebook.com/rolexregatta; Instagram #IRRSTYC; and Twitter @IRRSTYC

The St. Thomas International Regatta is sponsored by Captain Morgan and Heineken, distributed by Bellows International, Little Switzerland, and the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism.

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