The story of how Andrew Cameron won the 8th Annual Commodore’s Cup, sailed June 23 out of Coral Bay, St. John, tells just like the fable of the tortoise and the hare.
“We raced in the Pursuit Class,” says Cameron, whose crew aboard the Albin Vega 27, African Queen, included his 19-year-old son, Zan, a capable sailor and graduate of the KATS (Kids and the Sea) program of St. John. “The weather was nice. Sunny. Moderate winds. It was great for racing.”
Sailors like to grumble about any type of handicap racing, and pursuit style – where boats are given individual start times based on their handicap – doesn’t escape this criticism.
Yet, says Cameron, “no one dominated the lead. In fact, we were in the front a few times, and we lost the lead other times. It all seemed pretty competitive and pretty fair to me.”
One of African Queen’s biggest rivals was Zephyr, sailed by Jimmie Kujawa. Cameron says, “We do regular Wednesday night racing here in Coral Bay and Jimmie and I have a long-standing friendly rivalry going.”
The biggest thrill of the regatta for the African Queen crew came right at the end. “We had just gone around Flanagan for the second time and Robbie Hoyt on Equinox almost caught us. They’re a really fast boat. There’s no way we could have beaten them if they put up a pole, but they didn’t. I don’t think they expected us to beat them.”
Outfitted with only a small jib aboard African Queen, Cameron and crew rigged a water sail to speed them on their downwind run. “We took an old mainsail and tacked it on to the end of the boom, and it hung below the boom,” he describes.
The maneuver worked. “We managed to beat them and were really ecstatic about it. It was like the tortoise and the hare. We were they tortoise. They were the hare. They were asleep at the helm and the tortoise won,” Cameron says.
This win didn’t give Cameron the Commodore’s Cup. The fun finale and final prize awarding in this event comes when winners in each of the regatta’s three classes compete in a Laser sail-off in Coral Bay. That meant Spinnaker Class winner, Lawrence Aqui, aboard Top Gun; Non Spinnaker Class winner, Stephan Scholz, aboard Windshift; and Cameron, the Pursuit Class winner, jumped aboard dinghies and raced.
“I’ve never sailed a laser before,” Cameron says. “I used to teach KATS, but as the Sunfish instructor.” He laughed and added, “Let’s just say the joke was that Stephan had 35 more beers than I did.”
Eighteen boats competed in this year’s event, jointly hosted by the Coral Bay Yacht Club, St. John Yacht Club and Nauti Yacht Club.
“This use to be a two day event and we’d have twice to three times the boats,” says organizer, Scott Barnett. “I think the problem this year was it was too late in the year. We’re going to move it back to May next year and hopefully get participation back up.”
As part of the prize-giving party at Skinny Legs Bar & Restaurant, organizers raffled off a donated 12-foot Carib with 15-horsepower Yamaha from Offshore Marine. The raffle raised over $10,000 to benefit KATS. Cruzan Rum and Budget Marine sponsored the regatta.
Top Gun, Lawrence Aqui
J Walker, Chris Thompson
Non Spinnaker Class
Windshift, Stephan Scholz
Terra Nova, Mike Kole
Southbound, Larry Boxerman/Robin Swank
Ruffian, Marty Havfern
Tally Ho, Stephanie Labonville
African Queen, Andrew Cameron
Equinox, Robbie Hoyt
Zephyr, Jimmie Kujawa
Rainbow Maker, Vincent Barnett