Monday, April 7, 2014

EL OCASO & BAD GIRL Sail To St Thomas Gold!

J/122 El Ocaso sailing St Thomas Regatta (Cowpet Bay, St Thomas, USVI)- “Veni, vidi, vici”.  It’s the famous Latin phrase delivered by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. to his Roman Senate after a swift, conclusive victory over the city of Zela.  At that point, Caesar had control of the known Roman World.

Perhaps this should be the operative phrase for the enormously talented crew sailing with Rick Wesslund on their impressive new steed, the J/122 EL OCASO.  While St Thomas is not Zela, it is part of the Caribbean empire of awesome sailing regattas everyone should include on their bucket list.

Rick’s team are well on their way to another terrific season of sailing in the Caribbean, they were crowned CSA Racing 2 Champions after posting three 1sts and four 2nds for a total of 11 pts, 9 pts clear of second place.  This also reminds one of a famous comment made to the Queen of England when she asked who won the first America’s Cup Race (the 100 Guinea Cup off Cowes), the reply- “Your Highness, there was no second.”  On a fleet performance basis, they easily earned the “Most Worthy Overall Performance” for the St Thomas Regatta as well, having won the largest class by the largest margin.

J/100 Bad Girl sailing St Thomas RegattaHaving an equally impressive performance in CSA Racing 3 was Robert Armstrong’s BAD GIRL, compiling five 1sts a 2nd and 3rd for 10 pts to narrowly beat out a pair of uber-competitive J/105s.  Taking second was Jonathan Lipuscek’s J/105 DARK STAR with 12 pts and in third was Jordan Mindich’s J/105 SOLSTICE with 25 pts.  One might say the CSA 3 Racing division was a “J” class with 7 of 9 boats seeking a podium finish.  Francisco Figueroa’s J/24 COLIBRI from Puerto Rico took fifth in class.

J/95 Shamrock VII sailing St Thomas RegattaFor many who’ve observed the CSA Non-spinnaker class over the past five years, they’re often struck by the performance of a pretty J/95 called SHAMROCK VII sailing with a bunch of friends from the USA (some from New Hampshire).  As the Chief Ringleader of the gang, owner Tom Mullen first and foremost ensures his friends are having a great time “down island”. It’s not a coincidence that their fun-loving approach to sailing on a shoal-draft, lifting centerboard “day-sailor” (meant for the shoals of Florida, Chesapeake and the Bahamas) has seen success over the years.  Like some US Navy friends always seem to say, Team SHAMROCK “works hard & plays harder”.  Works for them!  They again secured a podium finish this year, taking a third in CSA Non-Spin class.  Not far off their pace was Stanford Joines sailing the beautifully re-furbished J/36 PALADIN, rounding out the top five in 5th place just two points back from SHAMROCK!

Cowpet Bay in St Thomas US Virgin IslandsThe St Thomas YC is again to be commended for hosting another fun event with great racing.  Indeed, it lived up to its billing as the "Crown Jewel of the Caribbean”.  How did it all go down for the StTYC RC team and the sailors?  Here’s a brief recap for each day below:

Day 1- A big breeze welcomed the sailors on the first day.  “Boom or bust” was the big story for the 69-boat fleet, confronted with gusts up to 30 kts at times, testing the mettle of equipment and crews as the fleet sailed along the island’s south shore into scenic Charlotte Amalie harbor and back again amidst a mix of sun and squalls.

The team aboard EL OCASO reveled in the conditions, enjoying the brisk breeze as well as finishing at the top of the 10-boat CSA Racing 2 Class. “It went well. We had a good day,” explains Kyle Jones, primary trimmer. “The course was fun and the squalls make it extra difficult. All and all it was good, especially since this was only the third time we sailed the boat in competition. The first was Key West Race Week and the second the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.” Meanwhile, Puerto Rican sailor, Francisco Figueroa, aboard his J/24 COLIBRI, led the CSA Racing 3 Class, as did Lipuscek’s J/105 DARk STAR in CSA Racing 3.

Day 2- This was another “fast & furious” day for the sailors. While the courses changed, the winds remained very blustery. Shorter round-the-buoy and round-the-island races off the island’s east end combined with 20-plus knots of breeze enabled the StTYC RC to fire off as many as five races in some classes.

St Thomas YC Race CommitteeAs some sailors described the conditions, “It was just rough and windy at the top mark in Pillsbury Sound where the currents met and there were huge faces on the waves.” JP Montegut, Commodore of host St. Thomas Yacht Club.Others explained, “It was challenging with strong and shifty winds. Yet, the races were very tight and that is what’s fun.”

Wesslund’s J/122 EL OCASO remained first in CSA Racing 2 class and in CSA Racing 3, Armstrong’s J/100 BAD GIRL overtook Lipuscek’s J/105 DARK STAR for the top spot.

Day 3- the third and final day of sailing brought beautiful sailing conditions to the fleet.  Wesslund’s EL OCASO team soundly defended his last year’s class win by once again winning CSA Racing 2 Class. Last J/105 Solstice sailing St Thomas Regattayear it was on their J/120 by the same name, this year the J/122. “We didn’t know how big a shift in gears it would be to sail the new boat, but we did it somehow and we are most grateful, terrific sailing against our friends in this class,” Wesslund explains.

BAD GIRL, Armstrong’s J/100, had a good day sailing against Lipuscek’s J/105 DARK STAR. “We knocked heads with them all weekend, we fought them tooth and nail and ultimately beat them,” explains Carlos Skov, BAD GIRL’s trimmer. He then explained, “I have to say, the DARK STAR team is a class act. Great sailing, that’s what it’s all about!”  For more St Thomas Regatta sailing information.  Or, Facebook St Thomas Regatta Page.