A record entry of 81 yachts entered the Gill Commodore’s Cup, the prelude to the St.Maarten Heineken Regatta. 30 knots of wind with breaking waves, provided testing conditions for the fleet.
The starting area on the south side of St.Maarten provided some relief from the ocean swell but the big breeze from the east cascaded over the hill tops forming bullets of pressure causing several boats to spin-out. Best performers were the teams that kept their yachts under control in difficult conditions.
Eight Melges 24s braved the lumpy seas, often disappearing in the troughs of waves, the carbon fibre rockets were an awesome sight. Racing on a two-mile windward-leeward course, the bone-jarring wet ride upwind was rewarded by high-octane surfing on the downwind with spray everywhere.
Budget Marine/Gill with Andrea Scarabelli on the helm, made a magnificent comeback in the first race to win the stamina sapping two-hour race by just over two minutes from Nicolas Gillet’s GFA Caraibes. In the final race of the day, GFA Caraibes was a weapon downwind, which secured the class win for the team from Martinique, by a single point from Budget Marine/Gill. Team Island Water World, skippered by Frits Bus, finished in third place for the class.
In CSA 2, Greg Slyngstad American J/125, Hamachi revelled in the big conditions scoring a perfect two straight bullets on the windward-leeward race track, beating some top competition. Sergio Sagramoso’s Puerto Rican J/122 was second with Peter Peake’s Trinidad team racing Dingo taking third.
In Bareboat 4, two teams from the Russian Sailing Federation enjoyed a fantastic battle. For three hours, Yury Kharazyan’s Red Star and Igor Omelchenko’s Perm Yacht Center raced side-by-side in the tough conditions. Red Star took the line by just 30 seconds, winning the class from Perm Yacht Center.
Mike Cannon & Neil Harvey’s KHS&S Contractors was the winner in Bareboat 3, just over seven minutes ahead of Kiev Racing Yacht Club, skippered by former 49er World Champion, Rodian Luka.
Class winners of The Gill Commodore’s Cup were awarded clothing and accessories from title sponsor Gill North America. These prizes will be well received as the feisty conditions are set to continue for the St.Maarten Heineken Regatta, with racing scheduled to start Friday at 09:55 local time (-4 GMT)
by sailweb / Louay Habib