Overall honours to Velsheda
Overall victory for Velsheda in the J Class at the 21st Saint Barths Bucket regatta belongs as much to the team's night shift workers as it does the sailing team which today held off the challenge from rival Ranger to win the J Class series on countback.
"We are a team that just does not know when to lie down," said Velsheda's relieved and happy tactician Tom Dodson after winning their second race from the four starts on the beautiful waters off Saint Barths, adding to their race victory Friday. Ranger finish second overall after securing the King's Hundred Guinea Cup Thursday and winning yesterday.
"We had the engineers of the race boat and from Bystander (Velsheda's mother ship) and some of the sailing crew working until after 4am this morning replacing the mountings for the port primary winch, so it is down to them we got racing today. And yesterday when we had our problems we probably should not have gone on, but like I say, we are a team which does not know when to lie down."
With Ranger second in the head to head showdown, both protagonists count two wins and two second places apiece but Velsheda take the verdict on the last race win. It was the breeziest race of the regatta with gusts up to 21 knots at times ensuring that once more the teams finished exhausted.
Newcomers Topaz had the early lead on the six miles downwind leg after the start, but erred too far offshore at the bottom of the island. Velsheda had cleverly used Topaz as a wedge at the start, separating them away from Ranger which had been on the hunt for a scrap since before the prep flag was hoisted.
Velsheda had the lead by the first turn, Topaz coming in late and fast in third. Thereafter it remained close between the two leaders. Velsheda made small additional gains when they could hold the closer line at the rocky islands, forcing Ranger to sail wider, sailing more distance. At the finish line after the 24 mile course around the island the winners were over two minutes up on Ranger.
"All our trimmers and our Owner-helm did a good job today," continued Dodson, "Some of us have been sailing together 15 years and so that helps, but the boat is also going well. I don't think we ever feel fast, but we are not slow."
That makes two big wins in succession for Velsheda, after they won the RYS Bicentenary Regatta last season in Cowes. But Dodson suggests their team are not looking too far ahead, trying to peak for the America's Cup J Class Regatta in Bermuda next year: "We just keep doing what we do. I guess we are maybe thinking ahead in that if we can hang on to sails a bit longer this season we might have some new for next year, but really we just keep taking it race by race."
The Topaz crew finished its first J Class regatta content with how it performed but ready to make the steady improvement needed to consistently stay with Velsheda and Ranger.
"Overall we are in the learning process. It will take time for us to get up to the level of the experts like Velsheda and Ranger, but once again today we got around the course in good shape we did not break anyone or anything and are getting a bit better with each race we do," said Topaz' helmsman Jorge Heinritz.