Competitive Start: Gill Commodore’s Cup Report
Friday, March 3, 2017 12:24 PM
With two classes decided by countback and a third won by half a point, intense competitive racing was the order of the day for the Gill Commodore's Cup. Pewter skies and a viscous rain squall preceded the start of racing. 20 knots of solid trade winds, with bullets of pressure firing up the wind speed, it was an exciting day of racing for a record fleet of 89 yachts. The feisty weather soon improved, to provide glorious sunshine and a brisk 15-20 knots.
David Pritchard, President of Gill North America, was racing on Robbie Ferron's J/39 Micron 99 Ossenfeffer in CSA 4, placing second in both of today's races, behind class winner, Sir Bobby Velasquez's L'Esperance.
After racing David was enjoying a cold Heineken in the Sint Maarten Yacht Club. “I really enjoy coming here, I’m especially enjoying the sailing and having been involved for so many years, I have made so many good friends here.” commented David. “I love working with Heineken, John Leone and his team are always pushing to do better. You just have to take a look at the regatta village and the 'eighth wonder of the world' the regatta stage on Kim Sha Beach, you realize the energy and effort that goes into this regatta. From a business perspective, the sailors here are our customers, this is where they hang out, and they are associating Gill with having a good time. We are also spotlighting our new Gill Race Series range, and at the awards tonight winners will get these brand new high performance Gill products.”
In the Maxi Class there were wins apiece for Tony McBride's British Farr 65 Spirit of Juno and Michael Teuteberg's American CnB 76 Sapphire. However, St. Barth's Jean Paul Laval racing his Bordeaux 60 Zampano put in a consistent performance of two podium results to take the class.
Lionel Pean's French Volvo 70 SFS II, took line honors and corrected out to win the first race by a big margin before using the second race for crew training. Lithuanian Volvo 60, Ambersail, skippered by Przemyslaw Tarnacki's won the class with a bullet in the final race, Chris Stanmore Major's Whitbread 60 Challenger was runner up. The Ocean Racing Class enjoyed a full taste of the big conditions with the race course taking the fleet to the windward side of the island. Unfortunately, Volvo 70 Green Dragon did not make it to the big breeze, as the top of their rig failed on the very first beat of the day. The Green Dragon crew are all safe and well and every effort is being made to organize racing positions on other yachts.
In the Offshore Multihull Class, Greg Slyngstad's Bieker 53 Fujin revelled in the big conditions winning both races. As did the flying machine, also known as Morticia. Skippered by Shaun Carroll, the all Australian team were full lit up today, winning both races in Multihull 1. In the three Bareboat classes, top performer was KHS&S Contractors, skippered by Mike Cannon & Neil Harvey, which won both races, including a big come-back from being on course side in the last race.
In CSA 1, Ross Applebey's British Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster scored a perfect three wins to stamp their authority on the class. Bruno Cardile's Italian Soto 50 Fortunata was second in all three races. Vladimir Oleynikov's Partisan Racing was third. In CSA 2, Bernie Evan-Wong's Antiguan RP37 Taz used their upwind speed to great effect, getting into clear air to take the gun for the first two races. Sergio Sagramoso's Puerto Rican Melges 32 Lazy Dog came unstuck in the first race, hooking the top mark but came back in Race 3 to by less than a minute. Taz and Lazy Dog ended up on equal points, with Taz taking the class win on countback.
Commodore of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, Chris Marshall, was racing on Andrea Scarabelli's Melges 24, Gill Race team, which won the seven-strong Melges 24 Class, scoring two bullets. Erwand Le Normand's Caraibes Diesel was second, ahead of Frits Bus with Island Water World.
“We picked the shifts really well today and had nice speed going upwind.” Commented Chris Marshall. “Downwind you had to be aware of the gusts coming off the shore. As a crew, we don't really have one tactician, we all say what we see and talk to each other. We have sailed together a lot in big breeze, so the more it blows, the better for our team.”
CSA 3 proved highly competitive with three teams claiming race wins. Brad Boston's American First 40, Team Boston corrected out in Race 1 by just 14 seconds. Pamala Baldwin's Antigua J/122 Liquid was 53 seconds ahead in Race 2, with Bob Hillier's American J/122 El Ocaso tying for second place with Team Boston. In the last race of the day, El Ocaso corrected out to claim the bullet by 17 seconds. Liquid won the class by just half a point from Team Boston, with El Ocaso third. CSA 5 produced another cracking battle between two equally matched J/105s; Peter Lewis' Bajan Whistler and Jordan Mindich's American Solstice. Tied on points after three races, Whistler won the last race to snatch the class win on countback. Rob Butler's Canadian J/88 Touch2Play Racing was third.
After a spectacular day on the water at the Gill Commodore's Cup, the Prize Giving was held at the Princess Pavilion, Port de Plaisance. With over a thousand competitors taking part in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, and many more joining in the fun at the Green Sensation Party, the venue was soon jumping to the rhythm of four of the island’s top DJs.
Racing continues with the opening day of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, Friday 3 March. All competitors will be taking part in the Round St. Maarten Race. Solid trade winds are forecast to prevail.