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Opinion – Who Should Sail in Performance Cruising

Rumblings of both discontent and content abounded from the
Performance Cruising class participants at the St. Croix International Regatta.

Long-time
Crucian sailor, Stan Joines,
who helmed his 1965-built Alberg 35, Windflower, felt this way: “This
marks a low water mark for yacht racing and a heyday for poor sailors who want
trophies. Ten years ago, everyone sailed for the competition. To race in a
cruising class, you had to have a bed, a head and a sink. No one with
self-respect would have imagined an S27 flying a spinnaker in cruising class.
It would be in performance racing, of course. And a J/120 flying a spinnaker is
a cruiser/racer, of course. At this regatta, these boats are in a class with
three thirty-year-plus old boats flying just a jib and a main. Arrogance wins.
Dignity loses.”

However,
Tom Mullen, who hails from New Hampshire, but is no stranger to the Caribbean
racing scene aboard his J/120, Shamrock V,
had this to say. “We were all given the choice to fly a spinnaker or not
before the regatta started and doing so or not influenced what handicap
was used in scoring. For us, we opted to use a spinnaker. I
think this option provides a nice opportunity for older guys
like me with heavy boats to still enjoy some comfort, but still be able to turn
it on when the opportunity presents itself. My prediction is that as the baby
boomer generation ages, this class will catch on and grow.”

How boats
are assigned to their classes, says Juliet San Martin, director of the St.
Croix International Regatta, “is a combination of the class the
participant wants to be in and who else signed up. Racer Cruisers sail with
spinnakers and Performance Cruisers can choose to sail with a spinnaker or not.
We had three boats enter as Racer Cruiser, the other
six were put in Performance Cruiser. Running a Jib & Main class of two
boats didn’t work. If sailors want a Jib & Main Class, the
participants need to help get the boats out.”

From a
broader perspective, St. Croix International PRO and chairman of the BVI Spring
Regatta Committee, Bob Phillips, had this to share: “The Performance
Cruiser class was started for racing boats that wanted to sail with reduced
crews or with full crews but on what are typically tour courses and only two or
one race a day, boats that didn’t belong in the Jib & Main class because
they are racing boats. Like St. Croix, the BVI Spring Regatta offers the
choice of using a spinnaker or not, so there is also an element of chance as to
which configuration best fits the wind and course conditions. This makes for a
very mixed class and lots of fun. Our event has seen that
class grow to become one of the largest classes in the
regatta.”

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