Professional racer Steph Roble checks in with her final report from what was by all accounts a barnstorming St. Thomas International Regatta, and we advise you to watch this one; Roble has a keen mind, serious competitiveness, and a great attitude in a hell of a package, and we urge you to go and like her Epic Racing Facebook page to follow her pro sailing and Women’s Match Racing exploits this summer. Congrats also to Jaime Torres and his Melges 32 Smile and Wave for following in his father’s footsteps to win the Rolex…ironically, the year they no longer give out the watch. Follow SnW’s Facebook Page to watch the Caribbean M32 fleet grow. Photos from Dean Barnes, and you can see all the galleries from the STIR here. Dean Barnes photos.
What a day! Team Line Honors started the final day of STIR with a 2 point lead over Puerto Rico’s Cachondo, and we knew it wouldn’t be easy to beat them. All week, it had been tight between us and today would be no different.
We sailed out to Jersey Bay this morning feeling good with our waterproof speakers blasting. The race course was much more open than yesterday’s tight courses, and we knew this would be more boatspeed and shift, and less boat-on-boat tactics. We won the first two races by winning the very favored boat end of the line and staying on starboard, getting out to the left where a nice geographical shift helps. The RC had 6 races scheduled – we knew we had to pace ourselves, but after two bullets, we were feeling pretty darn fine.
In the start of race 3 we played with the Cachondo boys for a bit, but at a minute to go, he went off for the crowded boat end while we went mid-line. The boat was so favored that Marco took the lead at the gun and basically sat on us the entire rest of the way; we grabbed a third place in this one.
For the final buoy race, we wanted to put some more point separation between our boats, and as befits the Match Race World Champion at our tiller, we went after Marco and his boys on Cachondo. And we misjudged our time and distance to the line…starting behind Cachondo…and then we missed a right shift on the last run, and lost 4 boats. We were extremely annoyed, and now, instead of a nice lead, we had a 3-point deficit going into the distance race that would end the regatta.
The race started in Jersey Bay, went up and around Great St James Island, through the awesome Current Cut, and to the finish line directly in front of the St. Thomas Yacht Club. “How the f%^$ are we going to make up that point gap??” we all thought to ourselves. Naturally, we all thought the same thing: “Let’s match race him,” and somehow, magically, put 3 boats between Cachondo and us before the finish. Sure…no problem.
Taylor went on to manhandle Marco in the pre-start, and on the beat, we pushed him hard to the right side of the course while the rest of the fleet went hard left. Our only hope was to keep sending him back, hoping we could somehow squeeze boats behind us. But with such a gap and so much leverage on the fleet, we didn’t know if we would be first, last or somewhere in between. We tacked about 12 times up the beat while Marco tried to break loose; finally we got to the layline to the cut of the island and left him to extend. We caught up to the fleet but left enough distance between us that exactly 3 boats were between us; we were all wound so tight as it unfolded! We hoisted the kite and snuck in front of a couple of boats, which we managed to pass on the reach, and coming into the final run to the club with spectators stacking the beach, we had 5 boats between us and Marco.
No one said anything; we all knew what was happening, but we had to keep our cool until such an unlikely scenario actually came true. Taylor’s dad and regatta organizer Bill Canfield was on the finish line boat for our final race, and what an experience – live music blasting from the stage, hundreds of competitors already partying it up, Bill on the RC boat with a big smile, champagne sailing conditions, and just enough boats behind us to take a hard-earned win.
We could have easily given up and handed the regatta to Marco, or fight hard against the odds and send it. We sent it, and it goes to show that hard work pays off, and aggression is competition, and to never ever give up no matter the circumstances. We are proud to represent Line Honors Yacht Racing Outfitters as the champions of the St Thomas international Regatta. One final shout out to the team: Mike Rehe, Taylor Canfield, Matt Clark and Taylor Ladd. And a big thank you to Sailing Anarchy for giving us a lot of love. Now it’s time to fill the glass with rum and celebrate!