Colin Rathbun and his Team BMobile showed the rest of the field a clean pair of heels on the water the weekend of October 3 as the Royal BVI Yacht Club staged the BVI Match Racing Championships, held annually for the Pete Sheals Memorial Trophy.
Sailed in evenly matched IC24 boats, the event format involves a series of short races with just two boats in each race, in the same manner as the America’s Cup. A round robin where each competitor sails against the other entrants is followed by a semi-final best two of three races and a final best three of five.
This differs from the usual fleet racing where all boats compete at the same time and encourages much more aggression in hunting and controlling an opponent, requiring a detailed understanding of the rules and special tactics of this form of the sport.
Five teams turned out for the races set off the entrance to Road Harbour. At the conclusion of the round robin stage a team hastily assembled on the day by Yacht Club instructor Will Ashley paid the price of inexperience and were eliminated. Team BMobile, skippered by Colin Rathbun, convincingly won all their round robin matches and selected Emma Paull as their opponent for the first semifinal. Team BMobile were able to win two races in a row convincingly to advance to the final round.
In the other semifinal, Kevin Wrigley’s Quantum Racing team had much closer racing against the Wee Petes, a youth squad assembled by young Laser star Alec Anderson. Anderson was able to get controlling positions before the starts but couldn’t quite make it stick, and showed flashes of speed on the course that weren’t quite enough, letting Quantum Racing through to the Final.
Although the final scoreline was three-zero to BMobile, the races were close with several lead changes and the umpires kept busy judging penalty calls.
Prizegiving was followed by a special dinner where Alec Anderson as the guest of honour regaled members with a slide show of his experiences last summer attending the Olympic youth camp in Beijing and various youth and adult sailing events in places as far flung as Denmark and San Francisco as he pursues the dream of competing for the BVI in the Olympics in 2012.
Report and photos submitted by Race Officer Guy Eldridge