They say the IC 24 was conceived as a boat that could be comfortably sailed by families. The crew of Sea Hawk proved that June 13 and 14, sweeping to a 12 point margin of victory after 10 races in the Quantum Sails International Regatta organised by the Royal BVI Yacht Club. Of course it helps if the family name is Hirst, skipper Michael joining wife Sayula and brother Robbie making up three of the crew, together with Becky Paull-Rowlette and Mark Stephenson. Lest they get too comfortable, they did not have it all their own way – others won five of the ten heats, but at the end of the day consistency came through as Sea Hawk finished lower than second only once.
The regatta featured a fleet of eight boats. As local Quantum Sails manager Kevin Wrigley explained, while boats from other islands were unable to come this year, the competitors were nonetheless international in nature, including BVIslanders, Scots, Irish, Brits, Kiwis and Americans. Saturday morning brought light breezes and sunshine for three races. Chris Haycraft’s Latitude 19, also sporting a family crew of Bob & Kara Phillips, served notice to the Hirsts that they were in a dogfight by winning the first race. The Hirsts were able to take the next two before breaking for lunch. Saturday afternoon brought a stronger breeze, and a slip down to fifth place in one race made Sea Hawk seem suddenly vulnerable. Latitude 19 stayed in the hunt posting finishes of three, three and two to end the day just four points back. Individual race wins were also posted by George Lane aboard Grey Ghost and young Olympic aspirant Alec Anderson on Lime.
Sunday brought fresher breezes and new faces at the front, as Anderson’s team Lime mounted a charge. Beginning the day seven points behind Latitude 19, they reeled off a string of two wins and a second to set up a final race battle for second overall. Further back, youth sailor Donte Hodge, captain of the BVI team in the upcoming Premier’s Cup, had struggled the first day aboard Intac but showed a definite improvement the second, beating several older and supposedly wiser heads.
For the final race, Committee Chairman Guy Eldridge and his team called for a longer three lap course. While Sea Hawk’s victory was secure, Latitude 19 had slipped to one point behind Lime, meaning Haycraft had to win and put one boat between himself and Anderson to hold on to the second place that had seemed assured at the start of the day. On the first lap this seemed to be happening as Latitude charged off to a narrow lead over Sea Hawk while Lime appeared well down the fleet. However on the second upwind leg the Hirsts were able to escape Haycraft’s cover and take the lead while Anderson’s team steadily made up ground. At the end Haycraft could only watch as Lime slipped past Andrew Waters’ Concherer, the last intervening boat, to tie Haycraft on points and take second place by virtue of having won three races to Latitude’s one.
Race Committee Chairman Guy Eldridge, after reminding all competitors to clear their bar bills, thanked Quantum Sails for their sponsorship and his team of Sue-Ellyn Eldridge, Diane Lewis, Liz Maclean and Brigitte Gerster as well as the Yacht Club staff for all their hard work putting the event on. "It was a fantastic weekend of close racing" …what better epitaph could there be?
Report by Guy Eldridge courtesy of the Royal BVI Yacht Club