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Wind Was the Word at Jolly Harbour Valentine Regatta

Skipper John Wills drives Ocean Harmony through blue Antiguan seas. Photo: Henry Trembecki
Skipper John Wills drives Ocean Harmony through blue Antiguan seas. Photo: Henry Trembecki

Those who love wind and lots of it got their wish at the Jolly Harbour Yacht Club’s Valentine Regatta (JHVR), held February 9 to 11, out of Jolly Harbour, Antigua. In fact, it called for a combination of savvy sailing tactics and survival of the fittest to win the day. This was especially true when gusts of 35 plus knots canceled the second day of racing and both trophies and bragging rights depended on just one day of competition.

“The JHVR makes a really nice tune-up race for teams doing the RORC 600, getting ready for the Caribbean racing season or just wanting to compete in an intimate local regatta,” explains Bob Hillier, owner of Racing Class winner, El Ocaso, who moved the J/122 from the British Virgin Islands to Antigua in June, launched it a couple of days prior to the JHVR and wanted to check out the boat’s systems and new sails. “For Saturday’s racing, we boned up the #3 and #4 headsails and loaded our smaller kites due to the forecast. Four races were planned, and we did all four, which were a nice mix of basic windward-leewards and a modified Olympic course. We had some really nice racing with Team Liquid, but other boats had to drop out due to damages from the heavy breeze.”

Huey Too chases eventual class winners Caribbean Alliance Blue Peter. Photo: Henry Trembecki
Huey Too chases eventual class winners Caribbean Alliance Blue Peter. Photo: Henry Trembecki

Team Liquid, Antigua-based Pamala Baldwin’s J/122, were able to stay in the game and finish second. “Our success was mostly due to the decision to race conservatively with white sails only and no flying sails, particularly because we were prepping for the RORC Caribbean 600,” says mainsail crew, Matt Kasprzycki.

Since Antigua’s Bernie Evan-Wong was also prepping his Reichel-Pugh 37, Taz, for the RORC Caribbean 600 he opted to race the JHVDR in his Cal 40, Huey Too. This put Evan-Wong and his team in the Racer/Cruiser class, of which they finished second behind winners Caribbean Alliance Blue Peter.

Sir Rodney Williams, KGN, GCMG presents first prize to Caribbean Alliance Blue Peter, Cruiser/Racer Class
Sir Rodney Williams, KGN, GCMG presents first prize to Caribbean Alliance Blue Peter, Cruiser/Racer Class

“I rated with a spinnaker and had fun trying to fly it two times in the event but gave up as trying to dodge oncoming competitors as you hoisted the kite as the next class started upwind was just too dangerous. I did enjoy the event and would do it again,” Evan-Wong said.

Regatta director and JHYC commodore Grahame Williams also finished runner up in the Cruising Class aboard his Bavaria 42, Full Monty, behind Colin Vinall and his team aboard the 1987-built O’Day 35, Seal. Vinall, who has taken part in several JHVRs but always as crew on someone else’s boat, realized his dream of skippering his own boat. He purchased Seal, with friend Peter Lansdale, after last year’s Antigua Sailing Week and this was his first race after carrying out improvements and as a complete crew.

“Peter and I took turns to helm, not only for fairness but also to let us get our breath back from winching. In the first race, Peter made a fantastic start and we led. Fifty yards later, all went wrong when the reefed genoa decided to completely unravel. Then, five minutes later the reef was back and we were last until we fought our way back up. The second race was again with a good start but this time we held on with no mishaps and managed a win. This was repeated in races three and four, although Full Monty stayed close on our heels. Day two of the regatta was even windier. Racing was declared abandoned. No complaints by those on Seal, as it meant we had won our class. Two dreams realized; win the regatta, and on our own boat. Only problem we have is how do we improve on that next year?!”

For full results, visit: www.jhycantigua.com/regattas.html

 

Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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