Italian Luis Marchegger equaled the success of his country’s football team by winning the 2006 Highland Spring HIHO. Reveling in the consistently windy conditions, he sailed a nearly perfect regatta with no finish worse than a 3rd overall, save for a DSQ which served as his discard. The veteran who has attended the event for the last five years was elated to have finally won. “I’ve been chasing this prize for some time,” he said at the awards.
Though he won convincingly, it was Caribbean racers who dominated the event capturing five of the top ten positions. St. Martin speed merchant Ricardy Maricel pressured Marchegger and roared to consecutive race wins but was unable to sail as consistently as the Italian. The race for third was tighter, though, with another St Martin racer, Jean Marc Peyronnet, edging BVI competitor Rusty Henderson by a mere 1.5 points.
“Rusty looked poised to make his mark at this years event,” noted race director Eli Fuller. “He started strong but made a few mistakes, but then finished well.”
This year’s event was gifted with near perfect conditions. Winds were 15-20 knots for each race allowing the 35 racer strong fleet to get in seven races in five days of competition.
The event’s highlight was lunch on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island resort. The fleet started in the lee of Eustatia Sound with 18-20 knot winds. The course took them upwind, then out through the reef to a buoy off The Invisibles. Next it was a reach back to a buoy outside the barrier reef off Eustatia Sound, followed by a downwind blast around Necker to a buoy off Prickly Pear Island followed by a tight reach to the finish on Necker’s powdery sand beach. It was neck and neck between Maricel and Marchegger the whole way, with the Caribbean racer holding on for his first win. Ashore, racers spread out around the exclusive private island’s pool, then savored lunch served under the thatched beach pavilion.
The unique Highland Spring HIHO format combines daily inter-island windsurfing races with a yacht flotilla. The event’s races are staged between the British Virgin Islands. Races vary in length from five to 25 miles. Each day’s racing is complimented by great meals and entertainment. Event sponsors include Highland Spring Natural Mineral Water, HIHO, The Moorings, Neil Pryde & BIC Sport. More information and results are found at www.go-hiho.com
Report and photographs courtesy of Tropix Media