Fun in the Sun at The Bitter End Yacht Club - SailNet Community
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Fun in the Sun at The Bitter End Yacht Club

Peter Holmberg and his crew chase Paul Cayard through the leeward gate.
The intensity on the water at the SailNet Pro-Am Regatta at The Bitter End Yacht Club is rivaled only by the activities at night. During the day, the nine celebrity sailors are pitting their considerable skills against one another under a Triple Racing format (see
Pro-Am Overview) aboard the resort’s fleet of Freedom 30s while amateur crews assist. At night, it’s the usual dining and cocktails on shore, but Wednesday evening featured a special "State of the Sport" roundtable moderated by Peter Isler. With Briton Ben Ainslie, Paul Cayard, and Russell Coutts serving as the featured presenters, and the likes of Lowell North, Tom Leweck, and Keith Musto in the audience, it was a lively session with topics ranging from Olympic sailing to developments on the America’s Cup front.

In Thursday’s racing action, conducted in moderate, eight to 10-knot breezes, Rod Johnstone preserved his lead in the Master’s Division by taking two bullets to log a total score of four. He now stands one point ahead of North in second, followed by Leweck in third with one point, and Musto in fourth with none. Musto allowed that he’s a little disappointed about his poor showing thus far, but said he’s nonetheless having fun. It was his son and business partner Nigel who had the most reason to complain. It appears the young Musto came ill-equipped to the event and has had to wear duct tape on his fingers in lieu of sailing gloves. Does anyone in the family know where some sailing gear might be had?

Among the so-called Junior Divison, the leaderboard is becoming a little tighter as two-time Olympic medalist JJ Isler maintains a slim, one-point margin. On Thursday, each of the four competitors scored a bullet. Peter Holmberg and Russell Coutts share second place with two wins apiece, and Paul Cayard sits in last place with one win. According to onlookers, Isler, with her husband Peter doing the honors in the cockpit, is sailing aggressively and very well.

Leading the competition for the Team Trophy, the Johnstone-Holmberg duo has rolled up a substantial lead with six combined victories. According to event organizer John Glynn of The Bitter End Yacht Club, "These two have been the most active as a team, sailing with each other in every contest. The other competitors have been a little more spotty. I guess you could say that Rod and Peter have bonded, because they decided early on that each would do everything he could to help the other, and it’s paying off."

Regarding the competition, Glynn said that the lighter conditions made for close races that averaged 20 to 26 minutes in duration. It got so close in fact, that at one point during a rabbit start in the Master’s Division, Keith Musto and Tom Leweck’s boats touched rigs. "They had some non-sailors among the guests on board, and that must have been really exciting for them." According to Glynn, close competition doesn’t mean that the on-the-water umpires are throwing their flags all the time. "Actually, the umpires haven’t had to make many calls, and they haven’t had too many of their calls challenged, which is interesting. I think that’s because Triple Racing limits the boat-for-boat confrontations. You just can’t concentrate on one other guy because then the third player gets away. It’s just what Russell and Paul were saying at cocktails last night. They said this is the most fun type of racing they’ve done in a long time."

Glynn expects the intensity to increase on Friday. He thinks that the competitors will take it up a notch because "everything begins to matter more at the end of the event."

Competition clearly isn’t the only focus at the SailNet Pro-Am Regatta at The Bitter End Yacht Club. The organizers decided to rearrange the schedule at the last minute on Thursday so that Paul Cayard could take his son fishing for lobster. And apparently one of the things that has kept Russell Coutts from joining his teammate Tom Leweck on the water during the Master’s races is having fun with his family on shore. Stand by for a final update on Monday here at SailNet.


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