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IC24 Column – Nation’s Cup Qualifier to Showcase IC24 to North America

The IC24 was birthed on St. Thomas, yet the St. Thomas fleet
has slumped into a becalmed lull. Witness this year’s St. Croix International
Regatta. Only one St. Thomas boat raced compared to three from the BVI. What
happened?

“Fleets go in a cycle,” explains Carlos Aguilar, who served
as tactician aboard Chris Curreri’s Brand New Secondhand during the St.
Croix regatta. “The BVI sailors sail twice a week and help each other. We
feel that we’ll get beat. It’s hard to get out of a slump. But, I
think Rolex will bring a spark back to the class and the Nation’s Cup
qualifier in June.”

Last
year, the International Sailing
Federation (ISAF) revived the International Match Racing
challenge called the Nation’s Cup. ISAF selected
the St. Thomas Yacht Club as the host for
the North American qualifying regatta. All Caribbean sailing
nations have the opportunity to compete against the best of the USA,
Canada and Mexico for the right to represent the region
at the Grand Final Nations Cup
Regatta to be sailed in Ireland later this year.

In direct
contrast to the match racing of the America’s Cup, which requires
millions of dollars to field a team,
the Nation’s Cup
offers the best sailors of every nation the opportunity to race
for their country for a modest entry fee and travel expenses. The same rules and on the water umpires are u
sed for both competitions. The
match-racing format will mean a series
of one on one races with the
racing action being almost continuous
over the period of the event.

The
Nation’s Cup event
hosts will supply
a fleet of equal boats free of charge to the competitors. Members of the St.
Thomas Yacht Club have offered use
of their IC-24 one design fleet to the visiting
teams. The IC-24s will be raced with spinnakers and
without lifelines. Organizers expect to see about 16 open teams and a half
dozen women’s teams.

“This is huge recognition value, huge exposure for the
IC-24,” says Aguilar. “These boats are ideal for match
racing.”

He
continued, “There will be a sail off in April to see who represents the
Virgin Islands. The sail off will consist of three men’s teams, two made
up of St. Thomas sailors and one a mixed team from St. Thomas and St. Croix,
and two women’s team, one of St. Thomas sailors and the other mixed.
Practicing for both Rolex and the sail off should bring a lot of excitement
back to the St. Thomas fleet.”

Interestingly, in the early 1990’s, it was St. Thomas’ Peter
Holmberg’s win in the Nation’s Cup regional qualifier in Bermuda
and the Nation’s Cup itself in Spain that launched his international
match racing career.

“We
hope that in three year’s time, that St. Thomas can host the
Nation’s Cup itself,” Aguilar says. “That would offer world
recognition to the IC-24.”

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