BVI International Match Racing Championship Day 1 - Tricky conditions

Frits Bus (St Martin, Netherlands Antilles) and crew including Roel Ten Hoopen, compete in the second Gill BVI Match Racing Championship, part of the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival
The BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival 41st anniversary edition, presented by Nanny Cay Marina, is being held from 26th March until 1st April 2012.

Crews from seven teams raced in tricky conditions on day one of the Gill BVI Match Racing Championship, an ISAF Grade 3 listed event taking place during the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival. Thanks to the support of title sponsor, Gill North America and supporting sponsor, New England Ropes, top teams have been attracted to race the fleet of identical IC-24's.

The match racing, coordinated by the Chicago Match Racing Center, an important sailing institution founded two years ago with the aim of producing top-notch match racing sailors, is taking place for the second year at the Regatta. With back-to-back races close to shore, the teams include internationally respected skippers as well as up-and-coming young match racers, such as US Virgin Islands' 18 year old Nicole Barnes who is skippering for the first time. The match racing duels were played out on the waters just off the beach at Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI and with the breeze back online, spectators were able to watch the match racing and listen to expert race commentary throughout the day from Denise Holmberg:

'It was a very tricky day out on the water for the teams, with lots of wind shifts and pressure changes, so it was very testing for the competitors and there were a lot of penalties,' said Holmberg. We completed a full round robin one and almost half of round robin two by the end of play today. The top of the leader board belongs to Colin Rathburn from Tortola, BVI with 7 Points, followed by Guy Mossman (USA) on 6 points and Frits Bus (St Martin, Netherlands Antilles) 5 points. A tie situation with 4 points for both Juan Mauri (Peru) and Nicole Barnes (US Virgin Islands), David Storrs (Connecticut, USA) 3 points and Leo Vasiliev (Rus/USA), 1 point.'

David Pritchard, President of Gill North America is pleased to support match racing: 'We are title sponsor for the second year running and are happy to be back. Match racing is an extremely expensive sport to organise as there are large numbers involved in the set up, organisation and management of the races. Match racing needs sponsorship and Gill North America are happy to do this along with our other sailing sponsorships through US Sailing.'

The boats themselves are in tip-top condition thanks to the hard work and dedication of Todd Patterson and Steve Roose who have made them ready for the teams to race equally.

Match racing is exciting to participate in and to watch, there is no better way to raise your game than a one-on-one fight to the finish. The Chicago Match Racing Center best describes why this type of racing is so popular: 'Match racing requires the fundamentals of a fleet racer, the tactics of a chess master and the teamwork of a Nascar pit crew! In a short race teams will have completed a boxing match-like pre-start, two spinnaker sets and douses, and enough tacks and gybes to tire a marathon runner. Participating in match racing will improve all aspects of your sailing.'

Sue Reilly Race Coordinator, along with Bill Canfield as Principal Race Officer and Henry Menin, Chief Umpire, ensured first class racing and umpiring for the teams with skippers from as far afield as Peru (Juan Mauri); USA (David Storrs/Connecticut); Leo Vasilov (New York/RUS); Guy Mossman (South Carolina) and closer to home: Frits Bus (St Martin, Netherlands Antilles), Nicole Barnes (US Virgin Islands) and from Tortola, BVI, Colin Rathbun. The 4-crew teams consist of Skipper and 3 crew on main, jib and bowman and the draw for the round robin pairings was held before racing to establish the play off for the day.

Chief Umpire Henry was under the watchful eye of the legendary 94-year old Chief Judge for the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival, International Judge, Arthur 'Tuna' Wullschleger who is once again presiding over racing at the 41st BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival.

Team Skipper, David Storrs from Connecticut, USA has never raced in the British Virgin Islands before: 'I was in St Martin three weekends ago and have been travelling to lots of races this year, but never in the BVI until now. We came in second to local sailor Colin Rathburn in a very close series recently and that got me pumped to come here. I checked out the forecast and it's 14-15 knots every single day for the next seven days, which I think is hard wired into the forecast. This is fantastic, I love this place and Gill has been wonderful in the way they support the match racing and all the sponsors, this is like heaven, I'd like to come back here every year, forever!'

Young match racing hopeful, Nicole Barnes from St Thomas, US Virgin Islands raced in the Gill Match Racing Championship last year but is skippering her own boat: 'I was crewing for Sandy Hayes in 2011 at the regatta as she was my coach and I thought I might as well skipper this year. I have my coach Kim Murtha and my buddy Margie Coxe on board as crew. We all sailed in the International Rolex Regatta last week. Peter Stanton, one of my older coaches and my boyfriend Nick Heileman are also part of the team.'

Roel ten Hoopen from The Hague, Holland is racing with a team skippered by Frits Bus from St Martin: 'Our Team, Coors Light raced in the Gill Match Racing event last year but did not do so well, but we didn't have Jo (Joseph Walters) on board, so maybe this year!' On jib, Chuck Pessler from St Thomas has match raced with Team Skipper, Frits Bus many times before and the whole crew will race in the BVI Spring Regatta after taking third place in the recent International Rolex Regatta.'

The post-race debrief allowed crews to analysis their performance before heading into the second and final day of the championships tomorrow.

Points after Day one:
Colin Rathbun ~ 7 points
Guy Mossman ~ 6 points
Frits Buss ~ 5 points
Nicole Barnes ~ 4 points
Juan Mauri ~ 4 points
David Storrs ~ 3 points
Leo Vasiliev ~ 1 point

Full Results

Flight Winners:
Flight 1: Bus (St. Martin, Netherlands Antilles); Mauri (Peru); Storrs (Connecticut, USA)
Flight 2: Bus (St. Martin, Netherlands Antilles); Rathbun (BVI); Mossman (South Carolina, USA)
Flight 3: Rathbun (BVI); Mossman (South Carolina, USA); Mauri, (Peru)
Flight 4: Barnes, (USVI); Storrs, (Connecticut, USA); and Mauri, (Peru)
Flight 5: Rathbun (BVI); Barnes, (USVI); Bus (St. Martin, Netherlands Antilles)
Flight 6: Barnes, (USVI); Mossman (South Carolina, USA); Rathbun (BVI)
Flight 7: Mauri, (Peru), Bus (St. Martin, Netherlands Antilles); Rathbun (BVI)

Gill BVI Match Racing Championship, part of the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival 2012

Gill BVI Match Racing Championship, part of the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival 2012

Gill BVI Match Racing Championship, part of the BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival 2012

BVI Spring Regatta website