©2015 Dean Barnes©2015 Dean Barnes

Melges 32 Fleet At St. Thomas International Regatta Starts With A Bang!

30 March 2015

Article courtesy Jaime Torres - Smile and Wave; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands - Twenty knots and 6 foot rolling swells gave a challenging welcome to over 60 raceboats at the 2015 St. Thomas International Regatta presented by Tag Heuer.

Four Melges 32 teams are class racing and duking it out for a beautiful Tag Heuer timepiece. This regatta has traditionally opened with downwind start headed to beautiful Charlotte Amalie harbor. Smile and Wave led fleet by nailing the start and the first east bound gybe. SOCA was in hot pursuit with Big Trouble having their own share of big trouble behind. Lazy Dog was MIA as a breakdown just before the start has them a DNS for the screaming downwind course tailor-made for Melges 32s.

S&W had a nice lead over SOCA at the leeward mark and built it into a solid 500 meter cushion in the short upwind before the final dash to the finish. S&W thought they had this thing in bag, but SOCA came low and fast from behind riding the best pressure of the day. On our first gybe we barely crossed their bow but Luis’s superior downwind driving kept SOCA rumbling while we wallowed in the lighter stuff.

They gybed right in front of us at the last channel marker heading to the finish ¾ of mile away inside the harbor. We stayed high and fast above them and for a moment there we though we could salvage this bullet.

As we entered the harbor on the lee of the high and mighty Frenchman’s Reef Hotel all hell broke loose. With us to windward we were the first to be caught in wind eddy that had our spinnaker collapse in the confused air. Meanwhile, just 20 meters downwind, SOCA continued to sail powered right past us in their own divinely provided breeze. As their first bullet was assured, in a stroke of incredible bad luck, their spinnaker halyard blew out of the stopper. Our normally quiet crew erupted in calls to come down on them and cover. This once-in-lifetime opportunity to get back in the game was simply a twisted joke on us. We could not bring our boat down to cover simply because we sat in the most perversely turbulent bit of air in all of the Virgin Islands. We watched as they recovered their chute, powered up and simply sailed away to a race 1 victory.

All four Melges 32s made the second race port tack start out of the harbor. This was to be a very long upwind race back to the yacht club with and two w/l in the middle to keep it interesting. Lazy Dog led Big Trouble down at the RC while SOCA and Smile and Wave raced for the pin end. LD started in clean air, going fast and never looked back as they led the Melges 32s into the windy Caribbean. We tried everything but their superior upwind speed and good boat handling in the too-tight reachy downwind courses had them slowly build their lead right to the finish.

Big Trouble found a nice groove and held close third place at the beginning of the race while SOCA struggled in the chop in fourth. Unfortunately for BT, SOCA got their groove back and finished 3rd in race 2. They lead the event on countback with Smile and Wave in 2nd.

TOP RESULTS (After Two Races)
1.) Luis Jarbe, SOCA; 1, 3 = 4
2.) Jaime Torres, Smile and Wave; 2, 2 = 4
3.) Sergio Sagramoso, Lazy Dog;DNS, 1 = 6
4.) Tom Elsen, Big Trouble; 3, 4 = 7

View Full Results online at Yachtscoring

Day two promises to deliver more great sailing action in classic Caribbean conditions.

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