ISAF Grade 1 ranking draws top women competitors
Bill Canfield and the Virgin Islands Sailing Association announced in October that the Carlos Aguilar Match Race, sponsored by Ulysee Nardin Watches, has been awarded a Grade 1 ranking from ISAF for the Women’s division. Racing will take place in the waters off Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands during the event scheduled for December 2 to 6, 2009.
“We believe this will be the only Grade 1 event for women sailed in the western hemisphere this year,” said Canfield. “We are extremely pleased that two French sailors, Claire Leroy ranked 1 in the world, and Julie Bossard currently ranked 6, will not only be sailing in the event but will arrive 10 days early to practice and train in our wonderful Virgin Islands conditions.”
Canfield reports that the ranking competitors will be joined by a trio of the top 20 US Sailors including Liz Baylis, Sandy Hayes and last year’s winner, Genny Tulloch. “Local Virgin Islands sailor Kelly O’Brien, sailing with an all VI crew, Marie Rameris (Portugal) and Renata Decnop (Brazil) will round out this strong international field of skippers competing for the 1st prize in this highly competitive match race."
On the open side, the regatta will remain a Grade 3 event, but “with a wonderful Caribbean flare,” Canfield says. “The overall competition will be much improved this year and also include some very well known sailors. VI helmsman, Peter Holmberg, formerly ranked number 1 in the world and part of three Americas Cup programs, has come out of match racing retirement for the CAMR this year. He has resurrected some of his old crew including Maurice Kurg, Morgan Avery and Ben Beer to sail against another old veteran, Dave Perry from the US, and Jes Gram Hansen, well known Danish match racer, who will both be making their way to St. Thomas for the event. Dave will be the highest ranked open sailor currently placed 35th in the world rankings and has been sailing quite actively on the circuit of late.”
Last year’s winner, Taylor Canfield, currently ranked 61st in the world, “will certainly be gunning for these big name sailors in what is expected to be a very hotly contested championship,” says Canfield. “Taylor, the youngest sailor in the world’s top 100, will be bringing back his same crew from last year including John Holmberg, Max Nickbarg and Tyler Rice, and welcomes the chance to compete against the veterans. The field will be rounded out from active Caribbean sailors Frits Bus (AHO), Fraito Lugo (PUR), Colin Rathbone (BVI) and Maurico Gallardo from El Salvador.”
As with all match racing, a team of eight international umpires led by Peter Shrubb from Bermuda, who will serve as chief, and Henry Menin, from the VI, are slated to judge the matches right on the water. Bill Canfield will serve as the PRO and assist the umpires in ensuring great racing on the wharf in downtown Charlotte Amalie.
“Make it a point to spend time in the downtown area under the tents watching some of the world’s best sailor’s perform just a few feet off shore,” invites Canfield. “Also stop by Yacht Haven Grande in the evening to meet the sailors and their crews. This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the great sport of sailing with out having to get wet.”
Preview and photos submitted by the Virgin Islands Sailing Association