Home » Sail » New Different Changes All Mark 14th Annual St. Croix Intl Regatta

New Different Changes All Mark 14th Annual St. Croix Intl Regatta

New. Different. Changes. These are the buzzwords that aptly describe this year’s 14th annual St. Croix International Regatta, sailed February 9 to 11, out of the St. Croix Yacht Club, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.

New: proved to be the homeport of the winning skipper. “For the first time,” said regatta director Julie San Martin, “we had a winner from St. Croix.”

Devil 3, a Melges 24 skippered by Chris Stanton, with brother Peter and friends as crew, sailed into first place in the Spinnaker Racing 1 class. For their effort, Chris won his weight in Cruzan rum, a signature feature of this event.

“We had practiced in 20-plus knots of breeze and never sailed against another Melges 24 before,” says Stanton. “But this weekend, the winds were light and shifty and we had Mistress Quickly (The BVI’s Guy Eldridge’s Melges 24) for competition.”

The secret of Devil 3’s success, Stanton says, is “we came out strong and stayed strong. In the first race, we were on our game. We jumped out in front and stayed there.”

Best known for regatta and class wins aboard their J/24, Jersey Devil, Stanton said the biggest learning curve between the J-boat and Melges was working the asymmetrical spinnaker. “We had to learn a whole new way of spinnaker handling,” he says. “For example, Mistress Quickly would pass us downwind in light air. We studied them and found out what we were doing wrong. After we corrected it, we went so much faster.”

New:  also might be a revival in the Melges 24 class, which saw its ranks in the Caribbean grow five or six years ago only to shrink in recent years.

“We’ve always wanted a Melges 24. So, when Fraito (Puerto Rico’s Efrain Lugo) had his for sale, we bought it. Morgan Dale here in St. Croix is thinking about buying one and maybe one other person. Puerto Rico has five and there are two in the BVI, so we could easily see a 10 boat class in the near future.”

Different: was the dates of this year’s regatta. Organizers moved the event up one week from its traditional President’s Day weekend slot.

San Martin says, “By not scheduling the regatta on the same weekend as the Agricultural Fair and Art Auction, we were able to serve our visiting sailors better by making sure that air seats, hotel rooms, rental cars, taxis and other services were readily available. This had been a concern in past years.”

Did sailors like the date change?  Longtime St. Croix sailor, Chris Schreiber, who skippered his Hobie 16, Century 21, to a Beach Cat win, summed up the sentiments of several sailors when he said, “It would be nice to get our regatta’s dates closer to the others.”

Fellow Crucian sailor, Carlos Skov, who called tactics on Rob Armstrong’s Expensive Habit, agreed and added, “It would be nice to get the dates of our event in sync with other regattas. Maybe move from February to Easter now that Rolex doesn’t have that date. Or, even move the regatta into the fall where it wouldn’t have competition from other regattas.”

The reason, says St. Thomas’ Chris Thompson, who won the Spinnaker Racing 2 class aboard his J/27, J-Walker, “is the timing. Now, it’s a whole month before the next major regatta. It’s hard to keep the crew practicing and keep tuned up over that stretch.”

And finally, change:  which came in the form of abbreviated racing. This year’s regatta offered two days of racing instead of three.  Sailors found pros and cons in this change.

“We loved it,” said the BVI Bob Phillips, who raced aboard Three Harkoms. “It’s just like Culebra, two days also. You can come over on Friday, back late Sunday, and not miss any work. This format can only boost future participation.”

Two days of sailing, says St. Thomas Carlos Aguilar, who skippered the IC24, Green Boat, to a class win, “is easier.”

Yet, says St. Croix’s Skov, “It typically takes you half of the first day to get started, then the second day you’re ready to go and the event’s over.”

Puerto Rico’s Jose Sanchez, who skippered his C&C37, Balaju 2, to second in the Racer-Cruiser Class, agreed. “It’s good. But, it leaves you just one day to improve your scores over the first day.”

St. Thomas’ John Foster, who drove his Kirby 25, Good, Bad & Ugly, also agreed. “We felt like we just got going and the regatta was finished. I think we especially felt this way as it’s the first major regatta of the season and a shake down for us. I prefer three days of racing.”

However, Angel Ayala, who helmed his J/105 Sun Bum II all the way over from Puerto Rico, said it was a long way to come for just two days of racing. “Two days are hard to justify when it takes you two days – one day over and one day back – in travel time.”

If numbers are any indication of success, then San Martin has the figures in her favor. “With 40 boats in the big boat fleet, not counting the Optis, we showed a 15 percent increase in participation this year even with all the changes,” she said. “Not bad.”

THE RACER-CRUISER & PERFORMANCE CRUISER DEBATE CONTINUES

The buzz during Friday night registration at the St. Croix International Regatta, actually a little heated yelling and screaming, centered on what boats appropriately fit in the Racer-Cruiser class and which should sail in Performance Cruiser.

Regatta director Juliet San Martin explains the basic theory behind the designations: “Racer-Cruisers are heavier displacement boats without a planing hull. They’re expected to fly a spinnaker. The big difference between them and Spinnaker boats is that they are measured heavy. They don’t have a stripped out hull. On the other hand, boats can go into the Performance Cruising class from either Racer Cruiser or Spinnaker. The issue is whether they are measured light or heavy. They can fly a spinnaker or not, and are scored accordingly, but they have to declare their intentions at the onset of the regatta. What the Performance Cruiser designation allows is for a Spinnaker boat that is light on crew or with crew inexperienced in handling a Spinnaker to still be able to race in a class competitively.”

The problem, though, is that there are no written guidelines in the CSA handicap rule in black and white to take controversy out of these classifications.  All At Sea put this quandary to CSA Chief Measurer Jeffrey Chen, who offered his insight:

“The manifestation of this issue in St. Croix is somewhat unique for two main reasons. First is that this is a reasonably small regatta and, as such, just does not have the ability to field the number of classes required for all the groupings that apply to the fleet. This means that several groups may be lumped into a single class or individuals that may be put into classes that they would not ordinarily belong. Second, and probably the bigger influence on this, is the fact this is the first regatta of the C.O.R.T. Series.  The classes that are developed in St Croix then stand for the rest of the series, hence there is further pressure on the
Allocation Committee.”

To re-cap the CSA handicap rule and what it does, Chen adds, “The Caribbean Sailing Association Rating Rule is a rating rule that attempts to quantitatively estimate the speed potential of racing yachts. A direct derivative of this is that we can usually separate the various racing yachts into groups that have some commonality in terms of expected performance in specific courses and conditions. One of the functions of the CSA Regatta Measurer is to advise the Race Committee of these groupings relative to the courses and conditions. Not all the regattas avail themselves of this service and many Allocation Committees choose to ignore the advice given, sometimes justifiably-so, based on certain criteria.”

For example, Chen continues, “In an ideal regatta, we would be able to separate the fleet into these classes where like race with like.  Unfortunately, there are not many ideal regattas and difficult decisions are made by the Race Committee and sometimes by a Class Allocation Committee or sometimes by an individual appointed by the Race Committee. 

“These decisions must take into consideration much more than just the speed potential of the boats. For instance, consideration must be given to safety (are the yachts suited to the conditions expected on the race course?), maneuverability (can you put a low rated 50-foot yacht to race with a bunch of 30-foot yachts with similar ratings?), exclusivity (you may have a bunch of class boats and one outsider with a similar rating), abnormality (you may have one or two boats that just do not belong in any of the obvious groupings/classes), and finally, yacht club/event/regatta politics (always those competitors who are pot hunting or looking for the weakest competition in order to win prizes).”

He adds, “Given that a Class Allocation Committee/Person has to deal with a generous helping of all of the above, no wonder it is always difficult and invariably one or sometimes a few of the competitors feel a bit resentful (usually claiming never to return – but showing up the next year hoping that things may be more favorable). The bottom line is that the Race Committees have to deal with all the yachts that register to race, and that not everyone will be satisfied with where they are placed.”

Chen says he is prepared to put in writing class guidelines from a CSA rating standpoint. “But,” he says, “I am fully aware that no Regatta that uses the CSA Rule will be bound to these guidelines. I am also going to be speaking with the St Croix Yacht Club about some suggestions that may improve the present situation with their Regatta. Class Allocation can only be made more consistent through dialogue and co-operation of the region’s stakeholders in yacht racing. The CSA sponsored Regatta Organizer’s Conference is the ideal forum for this.”

14th ANNUAL ST. CROIX INTERNATIONAL REGATTA RESULTS

SPINNAKER RACING 1
1. Devil 3, Chris Stanton, St. Croix, USVI (8)
2. Storm, Peter Peake, Trinidad (24)
3. Ex Mero Motu, Antonio Mari, Puerto Rico (24)
4. Expensive Habit, Rob Armstrong, St. Croix, USVI (25)
5. Mistress Quickly, Guy Eldridge, Tortola, BVI (26)
6. Sun Bum II, Angel Ayala, Puerto Rico (40

SPINNAKER RACING 2
1. J-Walker, J/27, Chris Thompson, St. Thomas, USVI (8)
2. El Shaddai II, J/24, Jae Tonachel, St. Croix, USVI (19)
3. Good Bad & Ugly, Kirby 25, John Foster, St. Thomas, USVI (21.5)
4. Cruzan Confusion, J/24, George Lusink, St. Croix, USVI (23.5)
5. Ghost, Etchell 24, Dave Flaherty, St. Thomas, USVI (36)
6. Magnificent 7, J/27, Paul Davis, St. Thomas, USVI (44)
7. Ambivalence, S2 79, James Kloss, (46)
8. Glory Daze, J/24, McKenzie/Pessler, St. Thomas, USVI (55)
9. Atlantic Raider, J/27, Jerry Clifford, St. Thomas, USVI (61)

IC24
1. Green Boat, Carlos Aguilar, St. Thomas, USVI (29)
2. Bmobile, Fred Ruebeck, Tortola, BVI (34)
3. INTAC, Mark Plaxton, Tortola, BVI (43)
4. Black Pearl, Mike Masters, Tortola, BVI (50)
5. Roundabout, Bruce Merced, St. Thomas, USVI (69)

RACER/CRUISER
1. Pipedream, Sirena 38, Peter Haycraft, Tortola, BVI (20)
2. Balaju 2, C&C 37, Jose Sanchez, Puerto Rico (21)
3. Umakua, J/105, Papote Reguero, Puerto Rico (21)
4. Shamrock V, J/120, Tom Mullen, New Hampshire, USV (25)
5. Boomerang, J/33, Pat Nolan, Tortola, BVI (26)
6. Abracadabra, J/105, Carlos Camancho, Puerto Rico (34)

PERFORMANCE CRUISER
1. Three Harkoms, Modified 445, Chris Lloyd, Tortola, BVI (12)
2. Cayennita, Soveral 27, Tony Sanpere, St. Croix, USVI (15)
3. El Presidente, Thomas 35, St. Croix, USVI (19)
4. Sorceress, Tartan 10, James Carney, St. Croix, USVI (24)

JIB & MAIN
1. Windflower, Alberg 35, Stan Joines, St. Croix, USVI (9)
2. Marie-Ellen, Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 54, Howard Silverman, St. Croix, USVI (13)

MULTIHULL
1. Triple Jack, Kelsel 47, Richard Wooldridge, Tortola, BVI (7)
2. Piglet, Newick 23, Joe San Martin, St. Croix, USVI (14)
3. Chaos, Tremelino, Dr. Parry, St. Croix, USVI (21)

BEACH CAT
1. Century 21, Hobie 16, Chris Schreiber, St. Croix, USVI (16)
2. MaxiCat, Peter Voyershark, St. Croix, USVI (18)
3. Wave Magnet, Nacra 5.8, Doug DeRue, St. Croix, USVI (19)
4. Love Never Fails, Inter 17, Bruce Andryc, St. Croix, USVI (27)
5. Caribbean Auto Mart, Inter 20, Tom Ainger, St. Croix, USVI (42)

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