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BVI’s Hirst Brothers Win Inaugural Nanny Cay Nations Cup

Close competition set the scene for the inaugural Nanny Cay
Nations Cup, held out of Tortola, British Virgin Islands,
the weekend of November 12-13. “The conditions
were tough. We like it windy, although it did put more emphasis on crew work,
tactics and speed. Consistency was the key as it is with every regatta,"
said Robby Hirst, who with his wife, brother Mark, John Shirley and KATS sailor, Sam Woods, as
crew, won the regatta.

Fourteen teams with 70 sailors
representing seven countries competed in IC24s, which are modified J/24s and
the fastest growing one-design class in the Caribbean with fleets in the US and
British Virgin Islands and now Puerto Rico. The simple entry requirement was
that all crewmembers must carry the same passport. Crews rotated among seven
one-design IC24s owned by Racing in Paradise
in 10 flights giving a total of 18 races for the weekend with each team
competing in nine races.

“It
was a matrix where no one sailed the same boat twice and everyone raced against
all the other teams at least once,” says regatta organizer,
Richard Wooldridge.

The first
day of racing saw a moderate 12-knot breeze and gentle seas in the Sir Francis
Drake Channel. The race committee got 12 races under their belts.

“It
was great sailing right in front of the beach,” said Puerto Rico’s
Efrain “Fraito”
Lugo. “But it was very shifty. In that
kind of setting, you needed to get a good start and hit it on the first shift.
Otherwise, there was no chance to catch up. That’s why we were first in
one race and then fell to sixth the next time.”

The
second day, winds kicked in at 25 knots with five-foot rolling seas for the
remaining eight races. Minor damage to boats resulted in longer turnarounds and
eroded into race time forcing the race committee to shorten the last two
flights to one race each instead of two.

The
two-day event saw some upset with teams headed by IC24 owners – such as Mark Plaxton representing Canada and Andrew Waters for North
England – buried in the pack by less experienced IC24 skippers including Team
Ireland skippered by Christian Kavanagh, Team
Netherlands helmed by the accomplished Melges 24
sailor Frits Bus, and The Blighters skippered by George Lane.

Colin Rathbun, representing the BVI, ultimately scored second,
while Scott Nixon from Annapolis,
USA, ended third, having managed to hold
Puerto Rico’s top sailor, Fraito Lugo, from the third place slot by
a scant one point.

Nixon, a
former J/22 national champion who now manages the Quantum Loft in
Annapolis, enjoyed his
trip to the BVI and first time sailing aboard an IC24. “The venue here is
perfect and the boat is great to sail. You need phenomenal tactics, boat
handing skills and boat speed. The whole essence of the boat gives you more bang for your buck in terms of exhilarating competition that
does bigger boat racing where there are handicaps.”

FINAL RESULTS

Team BVI, Mike and Robby Hirst – 16 points
Team BVI, Colin Rathbun – 21 points
Team Annapolis, USA – 24 points
Orion Sailing Team, PR, Fraito
Lugo – 25 points
Team Netherlands, Frits Bus – 29 points
The Blighters, England, George Lane – 31 points
Team Ireland, Clair Burke – 33 points
Team North England, Andrew Waters – 33 points
Ex-Mero Motu, Puerto Rico –
39 points
Team HIHO USA, Andy Morrell – 40
points
Team Canada, Mark Plaxton – 42 points
Team PUR#1, Puerto Rico, Jose Fullana – 54 points
Team Seattle, USA, Linda Nelson – 55 points
Team Jolly Roger, USA, Thorpe Leeson – 61 points

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