Some of the world’s top-ranked match racers will again set sail in Charlotte Amalie harbor starting Tuesday in the 4th Annual Carlos Aguilar Match Race (CAMR), presented by Ulysse Nardin/Trident Jewels & Time.
Races all week will culminate in the finals on Sunday. The new Open Division format follows the international sailing world’s trend of featuring mixed teams of men and women and pitting both skippers of both sexes against each other.
"I think it is great to be a part of CAMR as an Open event," said the USA’s Sally Barkow, currently the 4th-ranked woman match racer in the world and two-time Women’s Match Race World Champion. "We really look forward to good, tough competition for the whole event!"
In addition to Barkow, other top-seeded skippers include Finland’s Staffan Lindberg (15th ranked Open), the USVI’s Taylor Canfield (28th ranked Open), the USA’s Stephanie Roble (30th ranked Women), Greece’s Stratis Andreadis (31st ranked Open), and the USA’s Dave Perry (35th ranked Open).
Canfield, who won the inaugural event in 2008 as a Boston College sophomore and finished second in 2009, is the local favorite. A win could catapult this native Virgin Islander and sailing director at the Chicago Match Race Center onto the global match racing stage. The CAMR champion receives an invitation to the prestigious Stena Match Cup, to be held in Marstrand, Sweden, in the summer of 2012. The CAMR is an Official World Tour Qualifier (WTQ) for the 2012 World Match Racing Tour.
The winner also receives a distinctive Ulysse Nardin precision timepiece.
The 2012 CAMR will debut two teenage Virgin Islands sailors skippering in the regatta for the first time.
One is Boston College sophomore Tyler Rice, who most recently finished second in the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association’s Pine Trophy Match Race in September at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and who spent the summer working and sailing at the Chicago Match Race Center.
The second is Antilles School senior Nikole "Nikki" Barnes, who finished fifth in her first match race as a skipper at the BVI’s Pete Sheals Memorial Match Race in November. Barnes and crew Agustina Barbuto of St. John have excelled in dinghy fleet racing by winning the U.S. Virgin Islands’ first medal (bronze) at the 2011 ISAF Youth World Championships in Zadar, Croatia.
A strong contingent of Caribbean skippers includes the BVI’s Colin Rathbun, currently ranked 74th in the world and four-time entrant in this regatta; Puerto Rico’s Jorge Santiago, who won a silver medal fleet racing J/24s in the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games; and St. Maarten’s Frits Bus, who has sailed to numerous fleet racing victories in dinghies and keelboats.
Rounding out the roster of impressive skippers is the USA’s Sandy Hayes, three-time Rolex Women’s Match Race champion; the USA’s Team New Orleans, Louise Bienvenu; and El Salvador’s Mauricio Gallardo.
Match racing pits one identical boat against another on a short course, often near to shore. On-the-water umpires make instant calls and enforce the rules. Expect some very exciting racing up and down the Charlotte Amalie waterfront. Sailors will compete in IC-24s, a local adaptation of a J/24.
The race format will be a double round robin in which the top three teams move forward. The remaining teams enter a repechage event in which the top two teams advance.
This offers everybody two tries to make it into the finals, which will take place on Sunday and be broadcast live locally on WVWI (AM 1000) between noon and 2 p.m. 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 at www.carlosmatchrace.com. Racing starts at 9 a.m. Atlantic Standard Time (GMT – 4 hours) daily.
A group of Virgin Islands youngsters will have a go at 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.
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, Choice Communications, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort, Yacht Haven Grande and St. Thomas Yacht Club.