Local sports — St. Thomas
Lindberg and Perry Lead After First Day of Carlos Aguilar Match Race
Two skippers finished undefeated after the first day’s round-robin racing in the 4th Carlos Aguilar Match Race (CAMR), presented by Ulysse Nardin/Trident Jewels & Time. Finland’s Stefan Lindberg, who is currently ranked 15th in the world, sailed to six wins in Group A, while the USA’s Dave Perry, world-ranked 36th, topped the Group B with five wins.
The USA’s Sally Barkow, the 4th-ranked woman match racer who has sailed this regatta twice as crew and now twice on the helm, lost her only match of the day to Lindberg.
“It was a fun day, a shifty day,” said Barkow, speaking about the many times the 8 to 10 knots of breeze changed direction. “Even though we lost one to Stefan in the end, I think the team sailed well. We continuously worked on our communication and boat handling.”
Barkow’s Team seven is one of four that hopes to qualify to represent the USA in Women’s Match Racing in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. While this is the first time Women’s Match Racing will be an Olympic event, Barkow is not new to Olympic level competition. She skippered the three-person Yngling in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and missed a bronze medal by only one place.
“We’ll be training in Miami after this regatta and then sailing in the Olympic Class Regatta in January,” said Barkow. “After that, there’s only four months left to the final qualifier in Weymouth in May where we’ll see who will go on to the Olympics.”
One of the teams new to match racing is from El Salvador. In fact, this is the second match race Mauricio Gallardo has skippered, the first being the 2011 Nation’s Cup North American Qualifier in Texas this summer where he finished third.
“We don’t have any match racing in El Salvador, but we do fleet race J/24s,” said Gallardo. “So to prepare for this event we used two J/24s and match raced. Still, we learned a lot out there today. In fact we learned something new in every race and look forward to racing again tomorrow.”
The USVI’s Peter Holmberg, America’s Cup-winning helmsman for Alinghi and 2009 CAMR winner, spent the afternoon on the waterfront providing a running commentary of the racing for spectators. Asked how he would characterize the level of talent in the 13 team fleet, Holmberg said, “It’s a diverse field. There’s everything from the beginning rookies to the hardened world champions. It’s the biggest spread of talent and experience we’ve seen to date in this event. But I think it’s good for an event to not just have all rock stars. It provides openings and opportunities.”
This four-day regatta, sailed in Inter-Club (IC)-24s, will continue Friday with the completion of the round robin. Semi-Finals will take place Saturday and the Finals on Sunday. The Finals will be broadcast live locally on WVWI (AM 1000) between noon and 2 p.m.
Up for grabs is a distinctive Ulysse Nardin precision timepiece for the winner. In addition, the winner also receives an invitation to the prestigious Stena Match Cup Sweden, in Marstrand, Sweden, in the summer of 2012. The CAMR is an Official World Tour Qualifier (WTQ) for the 2012 World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) (www.worldmatchracingtour.com).
A group of Virgin Island’s youth 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.
Match racing pits one identical boat against another on a short courseoftentimes 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. 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 on www.carlosmatchrace.com. Racing starts at 9 a.m. (GMT – 4 hrs) daily.
The St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC) and the Virgin Islands Sailing Association (VISA) are organizing authorities for the CAMR, namesake for the late Carlos Aguilar, who was an avid sailor and match racer.
Supporting sponsors of the CAMR are the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism; Heineken Beer, distributed in the U.S. Virgin Islands by Bellows International Ltd.; Budget Marine; Hooters; Patron, distributed by Premier Wines & Spirits; Choice Communications; Bolongo Bay Beach Resort; Yacht Haven Grande; and St. Thomas Yacht Club.