After a semi-leisurely day of racing from the Bitter End downwind to the Baths and back on Monday, a cadre of celebrity sailors went head to head in eight races during the first day of formal competition at the SailNet Pro-Am Regatta at The Bitter End Yacht Club yesterday. Sailing aboard Freedom 30s on Virgin Gorda’s North Sound in the British Virgin Islands, the competitors made the most of the 10 to 13 knot winds that blew in from the northeast.
The morning’s action saw the Masters compete, in which yacht designer Rod Johnstone took the early lead in the event with two victories. Currently tied for second are Tom Leweck and Lowell North with one win apiece, and Keith Musto trails with no wins so far. (Defending Masters Champion Butch Ulmer had to bow out Monday due to a family emergency back in the US.)
Competitors in the so-called Junior Division raced during the afternoon, with recent Women’s 470 silver medalist JJ Isler (with her husband Peter in the cockpit) winning the day by accumulating two wins. Former champion Peter Holmberg ended the day tied with Russell Coutts in second (each with one win), while Paul Cayard occupied last-place honors with no victories. Each competitor has now sailed three races.
Rod Johnstone and Peter Holmberg are currently atop the leaderboard in the Team Trophy competition with their combined total of three wins. Witnesses say the key element to success for these two is the fact that Holmberg sailed with Johnstone in the morning races and that neither Coutts nor Cayard showed up to assist their respective teammates. The team of Tom Leweck and Russell Coutts have two combined points to put them in a tie with JJ Isler and Keith Musto, while the team of Lowell North and Paul Cayard has just one victory.
The competition is being staged under a Triple Racing format, with just three boats on the racecourse at one time and only one point available per race. Two sailors active on the match-race circuit—Coutts and Holmberg both commented today that they think the triple racing format is fantastic. Each sailor said he felt the format was as good as any match racing that he’s done.
Today (Wednesday), the competitors have a lay day, and they’ll enjoy themselves by taking an excursion to Anegada, an island 16 miles to the north. Also on hand for the SailNet Pro-Am Regatta at The Bitter End are umpires Tom Farquahr and Brad Dellenbaugh, and special guest Ben Ainslie, the Laser Class gold medalist at the recent Sydney Olympic Games. Ainslie crewed for Lowell North in the morning yesterday and for Cayard in the afternoon. In all, roughly 80 Bitter End Yacht Club guests competed in the races on Tuesday, each attired in T-shirts provided by Musto. Standby for more updates.