Charlotte Amalie’s harbor is one of the most picturesque ports in the Caribbean. For sailors, this beauty comes with a beast. That is, extremely shifty winds blowing off the surrounding mountains, and knowing how to call the shifts correctly, can spell the difference between winning and losing a race. These were the conditions tested during practice on Thursday by the ten teams, including some of the world’s top-ranked match racers and their equally talented crews, competing in the sixth Annual Carlos Aguilar Match Race (CAMR), November 21-24, 2013.
The USA’s Stephanie Roble (far left, standing) and crew dock after practicing in Charlotte Amalie harbor.
'We heard it was shifty here and practice today met our expectations,' explains the USA’s Jennifer Wilson, winner of the 2013 U.S. Women’s Match Race Championships and a founding member of the sponsoring CAMR. 'Shifty can be frustrating, but it’s also fun. It means there is always a chance to come back. It mixes things up.'
The event’s other woman match racer is the USA’s Stephanie Roble. Roble is the top-ranked U.S. female match, fifth ranked woman match racer in the world and competes on the Global Women’s Match Racing Circuit.
Finland’s Antti Luhta, who is ranked 25th in the world, is sailing in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the first time. 'I like shifty winds. What I don’t like so much is snow and ice. That’s what we have to sail in back home in Helsinki right now.'
CAMR, L to R: USA’s Dave Perry, Greece’s Stratis Andreadis, USVI’s Peter Holmberg, USA’s Dave Dellenbaugh, USA’s Jennifer Wilson, USA’s Chris Poole, BVI’s Colin Rathbun, Finland’s Antti Luhta, and the USA’s Stephanie Roble. Missing: the USA's Don Wilson. Credit: Dean Barnes.
Rounding out the elite fleet of match racers are: the USA’s Don Wilson, ranked 24th in the world and the number one ranked U.S. match racer as well as founder of the CMRC; the USA’s Chris Poole, ranked 27th; Greece’s Stratis Andreadis; the USVI’s Olympic silver medalist and America’s Cup sailor, Peter Holmberg; the USA’s Dave Dellenbaugh, who most recently won the 2013 U.S. Match Racing Championships; the USA’s Dave Perry, author of Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing Through 2016; and the British Virgin Islands’ Colin Rathbun.
Match racing pits one identical boat against another on a short course oftentimes near to shore. On-the-water umpires make instant calls and enforce the rules. The result is very exciting racing up and down the Charlotte Amalie waterfront. Sailors will compete in IC-24s, a local adaptation of a J/24. The CAMR is an International Sailing Federation (ISAF)-provisional Grade Two event.
The race format will be a double round robin series leading to the semi-finals and finals. Spectators are invited to watch the racing under tented bleacher seating where there will be live narration. Viewers around the world can watch via a live webcast here. Racing starts at 9 a.m. (GMT – 4 hrs) daily.
A group of Virgin Island’s school children will have an opportunity to try-on match racing during the Carlos Aguilar Match Race Youth Regatta, which will take place between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday November 23.
The Virgin Islands Sailing Association (VISA) is the organizing authority for the CAMR, namesake for the late Carlos Aguilar, who was an avid sailor. The CMRC is a major sponsor.