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The Bitter End’s Pro Am Regatta Turns 20

The year of the first Pro Am, Platoon was the top movie, Ronald Reagan and George Bush senior were defending themselves against the Iran Contra Scandal, the St. Louis Cardinals LOST the World Series, and America WON back the America’s Cup behind Stars and Stripes.

This year, in celebration of the 20th milestone, the Bitter End pulled out all the stops from October 28 to November 4, starting with a local regatta for the best sailors in the BVI: the 1st Annual Drake’s IC 24 Challenge. In ideal North Sound conditions, 11 top teams sailed Saturday and Sunday on windward-leeward, two lap courses (nine races in all). The boats were provided by Racing in Paradise. Typically all boats finished within 45-50 seconds of each other, and skippers were allowed to discard their worst finish. Chris Haycraft and his crew of Bob Phillips, Richard Wooldridge, and Linda Phillips topped the fleet aboard Latitude 19, sailing consistently, and never finishing out of the top three.

Next was the Defiance Day Regatta, a series of two races–to the Baths and back–aboard bigger cruising boats (Freedom 30s, charter cats, and spinnaker boats). This year, there were 10 boats registered for the two individual races: The Spring Bay Sprint (11 miles to the Baths), and North Sound Shuffle (9 miles back) combined for an overall score. When the scores were combined, Rod Johnstone’s team aboard Freedom 1 took the overall prize, while Keith Musto’s intrepid crew aboard Freedom 5 took second. Third went to Tattersall’s Diva. Mount Gay sponsored the post-race awards party, say no more…

True Pro Am racing got underway Tuesday with fleet racing: nine IC 24s in the morning and 10 competitors in the afternoon session, with seven windward-leeward two lap races in all. Guests, three per boat, were allocated to each boat by crew coordinator/event director Erik Stacy. Paul Cayard dominated the fleet racing, never finishing lower than 2nd. However, Russell Coutts gave him a few very exciting battles, particularly in races 1, 4, 5, and 6 where they finished 1-2, and usually within a few feet of each other. Ken Read finished strong, to take 3rd overall. The top master was Butch Ulmer, followed by Keith Musto and Rod Johnstone.

After a fantastic layday, Pro Am racing resumed in earnest on Thursday, with the return, after seven years, of match racing. Seedings had already been established by the fleet racing.

In the morning session, Paul Cayard schooled "the schooler," Dave Perry, sweeping him 2-nil. Ken Read, showing that he knows the IC 24/J-24 better than anyone (5 world championships help), had a fierce battle with Russell Coutts (considered the top match racer on the planet), but Read prevailed on boatspeed. This set up a Cayard–Read finals, taken by Ken Read, securing for himself the top spot among the juniors.

Meanwhile, Butch Ulmer was sweeping Bruce Kirby, and Keith Musto edged Rod Johnstone (the man who originally designed the IC/J-24). Match racing provided lots of thrills, spills, and near misses for the guest crews. The pre-start maneuvering was, in the words of one guest "like an intricate ballet dance." Quito Rymer and the Edge (one of the Caribbean’s best bands) rocked the house on Thursday evening.

On Friday, with the juniors winner already decided, it was time for the masters to take to the water, with Keith Musto slated to race Butch Ulmer for the top spot, while Bruce Kirby, Rod Johnstone, and Lowell North duked it out for 3rd thru 5th. Keith gave Butch, as they say in Keith’s home country "a good go of it," but Butch proved too strong. Rod Johnstone dominated the masters match race consolation round robin, securing third place. But by virtue of Keith’s runner-up placing, the Junior–Master team of Paul Cayard and Keith Musto secured the overall team win.

The afternoon featured the finals of the Scuttlebutt Sailing Club Championships, where last year’s winner Chris Fretz battled hard with newcomer Jim Durden, and multi-repeat Nadine Franczyk. But in the end, it was Fretz’s superior understanding of the subtle nuances of sailing on North Sound that won out.

At the prize-giving, additional awards and gifts were given to recognize participants who epitomized the event’s camaraderie.  A raffle raised funds to send a worthy Virgin Gorda student to the Lavity Stoutt College to study the marine sciences.  Check out complete coverage of the Pro Am on T2P.tv or at BEYC.com.
Report submitted by Regatta Chairman John Glynn, Bitter End Yacht Club

Race Results
Keith Musto and Paul Cayard — overall team winners
Ken Read — Junior Match Race Winner
Paul Cayard — Junior Fleet Race Winner
Butch Ulmer — Master Match and Fleet Race Winner

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