A brisk breeze provided ideal conditions for the eight international women’s teams and an equal number of open men’s teams that took to the waterways of Charlotte Amalie Harbor Wednesday, Dec. 1, for an official practice race. The Carlos Aguilar Match Race (CAMR) will begin on Thursday (CAMR), presented by Ulysse Nardin/Trident Jewels & Time.
“We liked the wind; it’s what we’re accustomed to at home in the summer,” says Portugal’s Alvaro Marinho of the Seth Sailing Team, one of the Open Division teams competing. “But, it’s those shifts that are going to be tricky.”
The USA’s Sandy Hayes also reveled in the conditions, yet confessed that she was most excited about match racing again after being away from the sport for the last year and a half. “It’s the intensity and the full-on action that I love about match racing,” says Hayes. “It’s my favorite type of sailing and I’m excited to be here.”
This four-day regatta, sailed in Inter-Club (IC)-24s, will kick-off with the first round robins for men in the morning and for the women in the afternoon on Thursday. Bill Canfield, principal race officer, says, “We hope to get in 11 to 12 flights each day so we can start the Semi-Finals on Saturday.”
Spectators are invited to watch the racing under tented bleacher seating where there will be live narration provided by America’s Cup-sailor-turned commentator, Geordie Shaver. Armchair viewers around the world can watch via a live webcast on carlosmatchrace.com. Racing starts at 9 a.m. (GMT – 4 hrs) daily.
Competition in the Women’s Division will offer a sneak preview of the first-ever Women’s Olympic Match Racing in 2012. Skippers to watch, many of whom have already launched Olympic campaigns, are Great Britain’s Lucy MacGregor, 2010 Women’s Match Racing World Champion and currently ranked 2 in the ISAF women’s match race standings; the United States’ (USA) Sally Barkow, two-time Women’s Match Race World Champion and ninth ranked women match racer; and the USA’s Genny Tulloch, and 2008 Women’s Division winner of the CAMR and ranked 12th. Other ranked sailors include Brazil’s Julianna Senfft (19th), the Netherland’s Klaartje Zuiderbaan (41st), Brazil’s Renata Decnop (42nd), the USA’s Sandy Hayes (109th), and St. Thomas’ Kelly O’Brien. Each skipper will sail with three crew members.
Headlining the Open (Men’s) Division and defending his 2009 CAMR title is St. Thomas-born Peter Holmberg, America’s Cup-winning helmsman for Alinghi. The match-up between Holmberg and fellow St. Thomas sailor and Boston College senior, Taylor Canfield, should be exciting. Canfield, now ranked 27th in the world, narrowly lost to Holmberg last year, but comes back with a year of experience under his belt including a 1st at the 2010 Collegiate Match Racing National Championships last month and a 2nd at the 2010 US Match Racing Championship earlier this year. Also sailing in the Open Division are Portugal’s Alvaro Marinho/Seth Sailing Team (14th), the USA’s Dave Perry (28th), New Zealand’s Laurie Jury (39th), Greece’s Stratis Andreadis (116th), the USA’s Chris Van Tol and the British Virgin Islands’ Colin Rathbun.
Up for grabs is a Ulysse Nardin Lady Diver and Ulysse Nardin Maxi Marine Diver precision timepiece for the top Women’s and Open skippers, respectively. In addition, the Open winner receives an invitation to the prestigious Stena Match Cup Sweden, in Marstrand, July 4-10, 2011. The CAMR is an Official World Tour Qualifier (WTQ) for the 2011 World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) (worldmatchracingtour.com.
The St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC) and the V.I. Sailing Association (VISA) are the organizing authority for the Grade 2 CAMR, namesake for the late Carlos Aguilar, who was an avid sailor and match racer. The U.S. Virgin Islands is no stranger to hosting world-class match racing events, having hosted six major regattas of this type in the last 12 years.
Match racing pits one identical boat against another on a short course, oftentimes near to shore. The most recognized example of match racing is the America’s Cup. On-the-water umpires make instant calls and enforce the rules. The result is very exciting racing up and down the Charlotte Amalie waterfront.
A Youth Regatta will take place on Saturday between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. (GMT – 4 hrs).