Tom Hill’s Puerto Rican entrant, Titan 12, turned in an awesome performance in Spinnaker Racing Class 1, reserved for the fleet’s five largest boats. The 75-foot Reichel/Pugh design posted three victories in as many races, showing that boat handling was the name of the game in today’s 12-knot winds.
"We nailed the starts in all three races and led from the get-go," said Titan’s navigator Peter Isler. "It was really incredible when the race committee shortened the weather legs to one mile. It took us only 6 1/2 minutes to go downwind and less than ten minutes to go back up, so it put a lot of pressure on the crew to deal with the spinnaker. On a 75-foot sled that’s pretty hard to do, but the crew was up to the task."
The Titan team got some aid from a snowstorm in the Midwest, which stranded four of Bill Alcott’s crew in an airport. Alcott’s Andrews 68 Equation is traditionally Titan’s toughest competition at this regatta, but today the team trailed the fleet in scoring. "We patched together a crew with some locals and they did a great job," said Alcott, who has a home in St. Claire Shores, Mich. and St. Thomas and calls this his favorite regatta. "All I cared about is everyone keeping their fingers and toes."
James Muldoon’s Donnybrook is currently in second, six points behind Titan. With three distance races left—two tomorrow and one on Sunday—anything can happen, but Isler and the other tacticians are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to go head-to-head. "It’s exciting to do windward/leewards, the pure day racing format, but St. Thomas is such a unique place, with a coastline that is dramatically beautiful. The tactics will be interesting, and local knowledge will play a big part."
The IC-24 and J/24 one-design classes, sailing on a different race circle from the other seven classes, completed four races each. "The race committee shifted the course three times, so it was shifty enough to make tactics important," said Race Officer Dave Brennan.
With 15 teams in the fleet, the IC-24 competition proved to be some of the hottest. Sea Hawk, with Michael Hirst of Tortola skippering, leads, with BamBoushay, skippered by Chris Rosenberg of St. Thomas, following in second.
"Hirst is flying," said Rosenberg, who also says he’s keeping a close eye on third-place skipper John Holmberg aboard Stinger. Last year’s winner, Chris Curreri sits in fifth with Brand New Second Hand but hopes local knowledge will help him make the coming distance races count. "Just because I won last year doesn’t make me favored this year," said the St. Thomas sailor. "It’s tough, tough, tough. You let your guard down and the other guys are all of a sudden ten boat lengths ahead."
In Beach Cats, perennial winner Enrique Figueroa of San Juan, Puerto Rico, seems to again be unstoppable. Sailing his Hobie Cat 16 Suzuki/Red Bull, he posted three victories today. Another Figueroa, first name Francisco and no relation, poses the biggest threat. "We almost had him on the last race but he got us on the last leg," said Franciso Figueroa, also from Puerto Rico. "He is hard to beat. Today, maybe his closest competition was me, but we’ll see about tomorrow." Figueroa says the distance races will favor the bigger cats like the Prindle 19s, because they are faster than the 16-footers and the length of the distance races will give them "more time to get away from us."
Tomorrow’s race will take the fleet from the island’s east end to the main harbor of Charlotte Amalie six miles away, and then reverse the course for a second race back to where the fleet started.
Spinnaker Racing 1 (5 boats)
1. Titan 12, Tom Hill, San Juan, PR, USA, R/P 75, 1-1-1, 3
2. Donnybrook, James P. Muldoon, Washington, DC, USA, Custom 73, 2-3-4, 9
3. Sequoyah, James Moore, Santa Barbara, CA, USA J-145, 4-4-2, 10
Spinnaker Racing 2 (5 boats)
1. Temptress, Richard Shulman, Riverside, RI, USA, IMX45, 1-1-2, 4
2. Caccia Alla Volpe, Carlo Falcone, Antigua, ANT, Vallicelli 44, 2-2-1, 5
2. Cosmic War Lord, Michael Shlens, Los Angeles, CA, USA, Express 37, 3-3-3, 9
Spinnaker Racing 3 (6 boats)
1. Don Q Limon, Enrique Torruella, Guaynabo, PR, Melges 24, 1-3-2, 6
2. Contact Carib 2, Frits Bus, Philipsburg, St. Martin, NA, Melges 24, 2-1-4, 7
3. Mistress Quickly, Guy Eldridge, Roadtown, Tortola, BVI, Melges 24, 4-2-1, 7
Spinnaker Racing 4 (11 boats)
1. Lost Horizon II, James Dobbs, ANT, Olson 30, 1-2-1, 4
2. Magnificent Seven, John Foster, St. Thomas, USVI, J/27, 2-1-2, 5
3. Broken Drum, Jack Bishop, St. Croix, VI, USA, 7-5-3, 15
Spinnaker Racer/Cruiser (7 boats)
1. Anticipation, Peter Newlands, Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK, Beneteau 40.7, 2-1-2, 5
2. Lazy Dog, Sergio Sagramoso, San Juan, PR, FIRST 40.7, 1-3-1, 5
3. Abracadabra, Carlos A Camacho, Guaynabo, PR, USA, J-105, 4-2-4, 10
Beach Cats (12 boats)
1. Suzuki/Red Bull, Enrique Figueroa, San Juan, PR, USA, Hobie Cat 16, 1-1-1, 3
2. Flywind, Francisco Figueroa, San Juan, PR, USA, Hobie Cat 16, 2-2-2, 6
3. Blame It On Rhea, Mark Chong, St. Thomas, USVI, Prindle 19, 3-3-3, 9
Class: Non Spinnaker Racing (11 boats)
1. Affinity, Jack Desmond, Canton, MA, USA, Swan 48, 1, 1
2. Cayennita, Antonio/Ellen Sanpere, Christiansted, USVI, Soverel 27, 2, 2
3. TNT 76, Rudy Thompson, St. Thomas, USVI, Sonar 23, 3, 3
Class: J-24 (7 boats)
1. Orion, Fraito Lugo, Ponce, PR, USA, DNS-1-1-1, 11
2. El Shaddai II, Jeff Fangmann, Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI, 1-4-7-3, 15
3. Urayo, Gilberto Rivera, Guayanabo, PR, USA, DNS-2-2-5, 17
Class: IC-24 (16 boats)
1. Sea Hawk, Robert/Michael Hirst, Tortola, BVI, 2-1-2-3, 8
2. BamBoushay, Chris Rosenberg, St. Thomas, USVI, 3-4-3-2, 12