CORT series finale

Alaistair Abrehart looks back at the three race series Caribbean championship

Thursday April 10th 2003, Author: Alaistair Abrehart, Location: Caribbean
Having arrived in the BVI with an 11 point lead and displayed the same consistency that has won him many prizes in his Caribbean sailing career, Jamie Dobbs' Lost Horizon seemed assured of winning the series. By the end of the first day of racing at the BVI Spring Regatta, last leg of Cape Air CORT (Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle), it looked as though Lost Horizon's crown would be wrestled from its grip by Magnificent 7; a port-starboard collision with St Thomas boat Uncle Sam had left Lost Horizon with a one foot hole on its port side. But a night out of the water in the yard had it back in the running and on the water the next day.

Having worked throughout the night and received redress from the race committee, Lost Horizon was on the start line at 10.00 little knowing that an eventual fifth place in the first race was closer to losing its top slot than the T-boning. However, by the end of the day Lost Horizon retained the top spot in the Racing division with a margin of eight points over second placer Magnificent 7. " Lost Horizon II got ahead of us in the St. Croix regatta," skipper John Foster said. "We narrowed the gap in Puerto Rico and closed it even farther here. We're looking forward to next year and a chance to compete with them again."

Kevin Rowlette placed third with Willy T, trailing Foster and crew by 19 points. This year's Racing class results look very similar to last year's outcome. Results in the Melges 24 remained consistent throughout the series with 2 Contact Carib easily placing first while Mistress Quickly was plagued with equipment failure.

After a gallant fight, last year's top Racer/Cruiser division finishing positions were reversed; the top place went to Cold Beer II followed by Pipe Dream. Dehlerious placed third in that division but demonstrated improving boat speed and sail handling throughout the series leading many to believe she could be a very strong contender next year.

The weather was less than cooperative for this last leg of Cape Air CORT. The BVI Spring Regatta started off with near perfect conditions on Friday with 18 to 20 knots blowing out of the east-southeast. The race committee, led by Louis Vuitton Cup veteran, Peter "Luigi" Reggio was able to run four races for each of the classes.

On Saturday sailors spent nearly all day racing in the pouring rain with a brilliant lightning storm electrifying the course. With winds between 7-25 knots, Luigi's team ran three races before sending the sailors to shore very wet, cold and tired.

On Sunday the forecast, early morning breeze, and spotters on the top of Tortola, said it looked good but the reality was different. A decision to send both the fleets round the islands ended in cancellations for most of the classes including all of the boats competing in the Cape Air CORT series.

This year's Cape Air CORT consisted of 25 races and no throw outs. Winning meant sailing consistently in conditions that were anything but consistent. The series started off with winds approaching 30 knots and ended with a drifter. In between racers saw perfect sunny Caribbean days with delightful trade winds of 18-20 knots, rain and storms with 50-knot gusts.

The three series regattas - St. Croix, Puerto Rico and the BVI - each offered a unique venue in which sailors and their support teams were welcomed to enjoy the on- and off-water activities.

In addition to their regularly scheduled service between San Juan and Ponce, Puerto Rico to St Thomas and St Croix in the United States Virgin Islands, and to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, Cape Air supplied charter flights between islands enabling sailors to effortlessly travel based on the regattas schedule of events.

In addition to the bragging rights, class winners received roundtrip tickets on Cape Air's Caribbean route and a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses. Second placers also received a roundtrip Cape Air ticket while all top three placers received bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

The drawing for the grand prize of 4-day/3-night stay at Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda's world-renowned water sports resort, worth $1800, was won by the delirious owners of Dehlerious, Diana and Bungie Flynn.

Final Results

Lost Horizon II, Jamie Dobbs - 46 points
Magnificent 7, John Foster - 54 points
Willy T, Kevin Rowlette - 73 points
Melges 24
2 Contact Carib, Frits Bus - 29 points
Mistress Quickly, Guy Eldridge - 65 points
Cold Beer, John Schultheiss - 35.5 points
Pipe Dream, Peter Haycraft - 47 points
Dehlerious, Bungy Flynn - 75.5 points

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