The in-form Melges 24 Budget Marine Gill received the accolade of Most Worthy Boat at the 8th Annual Captain Oliver’s Regatta, presented by Coors Light and held May 18th-20th, after dominating Racing Monohull Class on Saturday and Sunday.
No wonder Chris Marshall wore a grin as broad as a Cheshire cat’s. The local Budget Marine general manager was at the helm of the Melges, trading places with usual skipper Andrea Scarabelli. And winning class tasted that much sweeter with Budget’s name engraved on the Captain Oliver’s Memorial Trophy for the first time.
The late Captain’s (Olivier Lange) wish for a regatta brimming with ‘joie de vivre’, great sailing, and great parties, lived up to the hype as usual. Blessed with a weekend of brisk 15-20 knot south easterly to easterly winds and steep swells, 22 boats in five categories contested two days of challenging racing beginning with the counterclockwise around-the-island race on Saturday.
Sunday saw two courses set in the St. Barths channel with boats rounding Pelican Rock, Molly Beday, Table Rock, and Tintamarre Island. Racing classes followed the longer course and Cruising classes the shorter one.
The expected duel between the two Melges, Budget Marine Gill and Frits Bus’s Team Coors Light, failed to ignite after the latter suffered broken rudder bolts 20 minutes into Saturday’s race and had to be towed back to port by sea rescue services.
Coors Light returned to the fray on Sunday to finish third and fifth overall in Racing Monohulls but the mishap put them out of contention. Bobby Velasquez’s L’Esperance, last year’s Most Worthy Boat, brushed aside a mistake in Saturday’s race to take second overall in class followed by Raphael Magras’s X34 Maelia.
Elsewhere, close rivalry focused on Garth Steyn’s Catalina 36 Moondance and Colin Percy’s Nonsuch 33 Antares in Cruising Class Monohulls, ultimately won on a tiebreaker by Percy after both scored a win apiece. Gordon Robb’s Charger 33 Caribella did well to take third place overall with an inexperienced crew.
Three high school students crewing on Little Poe, who are following the SBO Maritime Assistant Training program, received special recognition and prizes for showing great enthusiasm for sailing and an impressive attitude.
“These young guys have a tough attitude and they really went for it this weekend. I’m really proud of them,” remarked their skipper and course instructor Rien Korteknie.
Racing Multihulls was won by Petro Jonker’s Du Toit 51 Quality Time with Pat Turner’s plywood Newick designed Tryst finishing second overall. The 40ft trimaran Dauphin Telecom retired on Sunday with sail problems.
Turner was nursing two broken heel bones after falling off a ladder but admitted that fortunately he didn’t have to move sitting at the helm. “Tryst, the oldest wooden racing trimaran in the world, was doing 17 knots and catching the fleet. I’m surprised the 44-year-old girl can still get on to a plane like that. We had such a good sail,” he enthused.
Luc Scheulen’s Norman Cross 34 Green Flash took overall honors in Cruising Multihulls, March Sillem’s Dean 44
Two Pigeons was second, and Robbie Ferron’s Lagoon 410 Katzenellenbogen, finished third.
The 1-Design Class (formerly Corporate Class) was won by Appie Stoutenbeek on the Sun Odyssey 36 Team Lagoon Marina.
As an addition to the program, six young Optimist sailors competed against each other in six races held in the Oyster Pond Lagoon on Saturday afternoon. The youngsters displayed great skills for an enthusiastic audience. First place went to Leonardo Knol with Nathan Smith in second place and Luke Bacon third. Volvic Water, Island Water World and Budget Marine sponsored the event.
The regatta was organized by Technical Director Stuart Knaggs, Coordinator Rikke Speetjens, and Mary Wrigley, with the support of numerous sponsors. Peter Mazereeuw was Race Officer. The delectable Coors Light Girls assisted at the awards ceremony.
Robert Luckock is a British journalist and freelance writer residing in St. Maarten. He is currently The Daily Herald’s correspondent for French St. Martin and was one of All At Sea’s very first contributors.