Gusts blustering to 30 knots and blinding rainsqualls didn’t diminish the razor sharp competition at the 2nd annual North Sails IC24 Invitational Regatta, held November 13 and 14, out of the St. Thomas Yacht Club. At the conclusion of what was two sets of round robin eliminations, BVI Olympic sailor, Robbie Hirst, narrowly edged out defending champion, Puerto Rico’s Efrain “Fraito” Lugo, for the overall win.
“We took the lead in the first two races today. We were comfortable with our lead after that and just tried to sail conservatively,” said Hirst, recapping the road to his team’s win. Hirst sailed with long time crew and wife, Sandra, brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Sayula, and Chris Simpson.
Twenty-five teams of sailors from St. Thomas, St. Croix, Puerto Rico, Tortola, St. Maarten and St. Lucia competed on the first day, with results scoring the teams into the top half of the finishers – Gold Fleet, or bottom half of the finishers – Silver Fleet.
Hirst’s Team HIHO topped the Gold Fleet, winning a set of the latest design of class legal sails from sponsor, North Sails.
In the Silver Fleet, St. Thomas’ Chris Rosenberg took tops with a series of first place bullets on the second day. “We would have loved to have made the Gold Fleet, but we had a terrible first day. Bad starts. Poor boat speed. Bad crew work. Impossible tactics. You name it. Today, the crew came together after learning from our mistakes.”
Tortola’s Chris Haycraft, who finished an admirable second in Silver Fleet, won the Island Marine Outfitters Perpetual Trophy for his persistence to compete in spite of adversity. On the trip to St. Thomas from Tortola, Haycraft’s three-month-old IC-24 snapped its towline in 10 to 12 foot surf off St. John’s Caneel Bay, crashed on the rocks and sunk.
The 2nd annual North Sails IC-24 Invitational Regatta proved a platform for advancing IC-24 competition in the Caribbean.
Rosenberg, who with St. Thomas boat builder Morgan Avery innovated the IC-24 design, said sailors in St. Lucia and Puerto Rico are looking at building 6 and 10 IC-24s, respectively, over the next year. “Together, that will make about 30 ICs in the Caribbean,” Rosenberg said.
RESULTS – GOLD FLEET
1. Robbie Hirst, Tortola (13)
2. Efrain “Fraito” Lugo, Puerto Rico (15)
3. Matt Allen, St. Thomas (20)
4. John Holmberg, St. Thomas (20)
5. Chris Curreri, St. Thomas (23)
6. Mark Plaxton, Tortola (28)
7. Frits Bus, St. Maarten (29)
8. Phillip Shannon, St. Thomas (31)
9. Tim Pitts, St. Croix (32)
10. Mike Williams, St. Thomas (34)
11. Mike Green, St. Lucia (37)
12. Frank Barnes, St. Thomas (40)
13. Andrew Walters, Tortola (42)
RESULTS – SILVER FLEET
1. Chris Rosenberg, St. Thomas (4)
2. Chris Haycraft, Tortola (14)
3. Guy Eldridge, Tortola (15)
4. Mike Master, Tortola (22)
5. Geoff Miles, St. Thomas (23)
6. George Lane, Tortola (26)
7. Beecher Higby, St. Croix (29)
8. Richard Wooldridge, Tortola (32)
9. Sandra Dillon, St. Thomas (36)
10. Emily Newbold, St. Thomas (36)
11. Tito Casellas, Puerto Rico (36)
12. Jackson Roberts, St. Thomas (40)