June 10, 2006 – Canada, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and the USA will sail the last semifinal races Sunday morning to place in the Open division final at the TAG Heuer Nations Cup. The best of five semifinals were stopped with USA leading Canada, 2-1, and Trinidad leading St. Lucia, 2-1, as well.
The day started with the women's semifinals with Sally Barkow, USA, and Paula Lewin, Bermuda, decisively cementing their positions in the Women's finals.
The teams from the USVI and Cayman Islands sailed a one-race sail-off to score the USVI as third in the event and Cayman Islands as fourth.
Pam McDonough of the Cayman Islands team was enthusiastic about their experience.
"With this sort of experience, sailing against great teams, and especially the after racing debrief with the umpires and other sailors, we really had a learning opportunity not available any other way," McDonough said.
After the four flights of the women's division were finished, the Open division semifinals and fifth and sixth place sail-off began.
The sail-off was between Chris Curreri of the USVI and Robbie Hirst and the BVI team. The USVI team got off to two good starts and BVI was unable to find a way past.
The BVI team stayed close enough to harass and worry the Curreri and USVI on the downwind legs, but there was no repeat of the sail handling error that let the BVI past on the first day.
Both the USVI and BVI teams mentioned feeling a letdown at not being in the semifinal. The closeness of the racing meant that a single win in either of the previous two days of racing would have made the difference between sailing for fifth and sixth and sailing for the top spot.
The competition in the semifinal was intense from the opening horn. Trinidad and St. Lucia played a lot of the pre-start game right along the concrete waterfront bulkhead, giving the spectators an eyeful and maybe even a splash or two.
In the first race St. Lucia got out ahead, but the racing was so close, a distinct leader was almost impossible to call until the finish line was crossed. St. Lucia 1, Trinidad 0.
Erik Koppernaes of Canada was able to put get two penalties on Brian Angel of the USA in the first race pre-start. Angel was then required to do one of his penalties as soon as crossing the starting line, giving Canada a controlling advantage for the remainder of the race. Canada 1, USA 0.
The second semifinal flight, Justin Castagne of Trinidad got a slight advantage at the start, and again the race seesawed back and forth through the two laps up and down the course. Approaching the finish, the race was too close to call from the waterfront, the winning flag went up on the committee boat, then a last second penalty was called.
St. Lucia had touched the committee boat when finishing and still owed a penalty turn. Match two to Trinidad. St. Lucia 1, Trinidad 1.
The second USA and Canada battle started with very close pre-start action and numerous calls for penalties, all denied by the umpires. USA starts with a three boat-length lead; Canada threatens but cannot find a way past. Canada 1, USA 1.
Third flight of the semis, USA again gets the start on Canada, not through any lack of action on the part of Koppernaes and Canada. Again Canada makes moves on USA, but the experience of the U.S. team shows in their lack of mistakes under pressure. Canada 1, USA 2.
The young Trinidad team and the silver fox Mike Green of St. Lucia tear up their pre-start. Trinidad gets a penalty on St. Lucia half way into the pre-start, but Green wins the start by five boat-lengths and stretched out his lead on the first beat.
It looks like Green has a safe lead and he does his turn, but when the teams and umpire boat come closer to the waterfront to round the leeward mark, the penalty flag is still flying on the umpire boat. Green was too close to the weather mark when he did his turns and they did not un-do the penalty.
The final run to the finish, Trinidad is six lengths behind, St. Lucia needs to do the turns before the finish line. Trinidad closes to three to four boat-lengths, St. Lucia approaches the finish and drops their TAG Heuer spinnaker to execute the turn. St. Lucia spins at the finish line, and concentrating on their maneuver, accidentally blocks Trinidad, foul on St. Lucia, match to Justin Castagne and Trinidad.
The entire Trinidad crew goes wild, some jumping up and down in the boat after the finish. Trinidad then salutes Green and his team for a great race. St. Lucia 1, Trinidad 2.
At this point the racing is over for the day. The best of five semifinal is to be decided on Sunday morning starting at 9 a.m. Losers will sail in a best of three petite final to determine third and fourth. The Open final and the Women's final will be best of five series. It is expected that the event will conclude shortly after lunch.
Bermuda, Paula Lewin, to final
USA, Sally Barkow, to final
USVI, Jennifer Firestone, third
Cayman Islands, Jane Moon, fourth
USA, Brian Angel, semi-final
Canada, Erik Koppernaes, semi-final
St. Lucia, Mike Green, semi-final
Trinidad, Justin Castagne, semi-final
USVI, Chris Curreri, fifth
BVI, Robbie Hirst, sixth
Cayman Islands, Peter Cunningham, seventh