Nearly 200 boats in 16 separate classes set sail on Sunday in two race circles off Marigot, on the French side of St. Maarten. On the A circle, race officers designated a pair of courses that included a long weather leg to the northern end of the island before a downwind stretch before the steady easterly tradewinds to the distinctive landmark off the island of Anguilla called Blowing Rock.
Coincidentally, the race committee on the B circle also designated a course that would take most of its fleet across the Anguilla Channel to, yes, Blowing Rock. As it happened, at midday Sunday the entire fleet—the B boats reaching up from the south, and the A divisions running downwind under spinnaker from the east—rendezvoused at the low-lying outcropping known as Blowing Rock. And, man, it was blowing at Blowing Rock.
The wild scene at the windswept rock, with spray flying and boats converging from divergent directions, was the signature moment of this latest edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. The top boats—including the Volvo 70, Gran Jotiti; the Class 40 entrant, Icarus; the Grand Soleil 46, Antilope; and the Melges 24, Budget Marine/Gill, all surfing to the mark before 4-6 foot seas and registering double-digit boat speeds, along with dozens of other competitors—handled the conditions with confident ease and skillful aplomb.
Not every crew could say the same, and there were countless close calls as competitors closed on Blowing Rock, jibed, and set a new course for the finish line off Simpson Bay. Through a happy combination of luck and skill, however, everyone made it around cleanly. And when the racers crossed the finish for the third and final race of the 2012 running, a new roster of St. Maarten Heineken Regatta champions was crowned.
In CSA 1, on the strength of their second straight victory in today’s racing, that honor belonged to skipper Ernesto Cortina, who assembled an all-star crew of Spanish America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veterans aboard Gran Jotiti, a Farr-designed Volvo 70 formerly known as Telefonica Negro. John Wilson’s Reichel-Pugh 78-footer, Idea, took second place in class.
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