Calvin Reed’s Elandra, a production Beneteau First 40.7, has won the Gill Commodore’s Cup.
Reed and team, sailing in the highly competitive Racing B class at this opening event of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, managed to hold off not only similar designs such as a J/120 and a couple of A40s, but also five other First 40.7s. At a special prizegiving ceremony at Port De Plaisance, Nick Gill – company chairman – presented the delighted team with a selection of Gill products including a Gill Regatta Master starting watch and kit bag.
Now in its sixth year, and held as a run up to the three-day Heineken Regatta which starts tomorrow, the Gill-sponsored event attracted a bumper entry with a total of 47 boats on the startline. According to Robbie Ferron – event chairman – the boat of the day is calculated by the deltas. “When we’ve measured the deltas, in other words the differences in corrected time, the boat that wins the most decisively in the most competitive class is the overall boat of the day. There are some subjective factors here but it allows us to have different courses for the faster and slower boats.”
The two windward/leeward, two-mile courses were set in Simpson Bay, and the fleets was treated to a day of light to moderate, tactical, patchy conditions on a relatively large rolling sea which made for an interesting warm-up to the regatta.
The glamorous head-turners such as Irvine Laidlaw’s Wally 82 Highland Fling, Tom and Dotty Hill’s custom Reichel/Pugh 75 – Titan 15, and Bill Alcott’s Andrews 68 – Equation, were also out in force today giving a fair indication of what’s in store for the rest of the week. With America’s Cup super-stars – Peter Holmberg on the helm of Highland Fling, and Peter Isler driving Titan – it wasn’t particularly surprising to see these two neck and neck throughout the day. Titan suffered a torn spinnaker in race two but her impressive speed against the powerful, Wally 82 Highland Fling which has a 35m rig, was still enough to secure two first places. Highland Fling took second, while the 10-year-old, stunning looking Equation took a well-deserved third in class.
Holmberg commenting on the day’s racing said it was a day where pressure was clearly the dominating factor: “Pretty light airs for the Caribbean. It was a top day to spot the pressure but it was an excellent warm up and we really felt we improved as the day progressed on the short windward/leeward course. Really looking forward to the start of the regatta tomorrow and I think we’ll have some good racing with the likes of Titan and Rambler.”
Titan 15, Highland Fling and Rambler are highly comparable new boats incorporating the latest trends in high technology, and also have some smart people among their crew which will make it all the more interesting.
Further down the fleet, in Racing C, local sailor Ian Hope-Ross aboard his Beneteau First 36.7 Kick ‘Em Jenny hoped to better his runner up class position from last year but was unable hold off the Beneteau First 10R, Luxury Girl, and once again had to settle for second overall in class.
In Racing D, Peter Peake’s smart looking Reichel Pugh 44 Peake Yacht Services Storm, gave Dave West’s Melges 32 Jurakan a good run for her money but was unable to break her impressive 1,1 scoreline and had to settle for second in fleet. Paul Solomon and his team from Trinidad making their racing debut at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta on a Henderson 35 – Blackberry Enzyme – also had a good day, finishing just behind third-placed Melges 24 – Budget Marine. Solomon says he hopes to notch up a good result with at least a third place overall at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.
After the welcoming party and Gill Commodore’s Cup prizegiving, competitors and visitors to the island were treated to a special performance of ‘Voices of Classic Rock’ – the first of many legendary acts planned for this special 30th anniversary event.
The first race of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta kicks off tomorrow (Friday 5, March) with the 32nm Round the Island Race scheduled for most classes. However, light winds are forecast once again, which could affect the outcome of the course.