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Chippewa Wins St. Croix Intl Regatta

Sailing isn’t about going fast, says Dave West, the Bayfield, Wisconsin, skipper who helmed his Farr 395, Chippewa, to an overall win at the St. Croix International Regatta and earned his weight in Cruzan Rum, “It’s about not going slow.”

Puzzling out conditions and keeping ahead of the local boats was West’s aim from the start. “We trucked the boat down to Florida in November, then put it on Dockwise transport to St. Thomas in January. We got it here to St. Croix the day before the regatta. Our first practice races were really just to be sure the gear was working and for the crew to gel together.”

West decided to make the leap from Great Lakes sailing to the Caribbean when he realized that he had over 20 friends who sailed with him regularly and would be willing to take turns flying in and out, from one Caribbean regatta to another, to fill the nine-crew complement the boat needed for maximum performance. They chose the St. Croix event to kick-off their Caribbean season.

“We had a great crew for this regatta. There were six former national champions and four of them are regulars who sail with me,” says West.

Local knowledge proved to be the element Chippewa was lacking the first day. “We were fully powered up a quarter of the time. The rest of the time, we were looking for power by staying out of the current and going to the lifts off the islands.”

The strategy worked as West and his crew pulled Chippewa onto the top of the scoreboard by a slim point spread. Even though they never relinquished their lead during the three days of racing, the competition was ever-present.

“We buckled down the second day, but still had some difficulties at the starts. The other boats were showing off their expertise. Even to the last race, they weren’t about to lay down and play dead for us. It was exciting all the way,” West recalls.

Chippewa was one of 32 boats competing in this regatta, and event that marks the start of the Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle (C.O.R.T.) Series. Conditions were idyllic and competition stiff in all classes.

It was the battle of the BVI boats that played out in the Racer Cruiser class. Pat Nolan and her crew aboard the J/33 Boomerang, ultimately pulled out a two-point lead over Peter Haycraft’s Sirena 38, Pipedream.

Nolan explains, “The first day our crew work was off. We had to work out a lot of issues. The second day we came back dialed in and we stayed focus right to the end, right through a lot of dueling.”

Shamrock V, a J/120 helmed by New Hampshire’s Tom Mullen, won the Performance Cruising Class. “We saw some great racing this weekend. I think this class, and the option to use a spinnaker or now, provides a nice opportunity for older guys like me with heavy boats to still enjoy some comfort, but still be able to turn it on when the opportunity presents itself.”

St. Croix’s Llewellyn Westerman prevailed in the Large Multihull Class aboard his Mongoose 37, Charis. “We sailed with a reefed main the first day, that’s how we lost to Joe (San Martin, aboard Piglet). We fixed it after that and stayed out in front.”

In the Beach Cat Class, St. Croix’s Doug DeReu and crew Jae Tonachel, scored a flawless series of bullets throughout the three days of racing. “We fixed a hole in the hull and got the boat tuned right before the regatta. Once we started sailing, everything clicked.”

The IC24 Class saw some of the closest competition. “The racing was so close that we all thought we were in third place after the first day,” says St. Thomas’ Chris Curreri, who won aboard Brand New Second Hand with Carlos Aguilar calling tactics. “If you try to beat your closest competitor, you end up with all the other boats going past you. You need to play the whole game, play with the whole deck of cards to win.”

Eighteen boats are participating in the CORT Series. The Series continues with the Heineken Culebra International Regatta, March 17-19 and concludes with the BVI Spring Regatta March 31-April 2.




1. Chippewa, Farr 395, Dave West, Wisconsin, USA (23)

2. Mistress Quickly, Melges 24, Guy Eldridge, Tortola, BVI (32)

3. Sorceress, J/29, Morgan Dale, St. Croix, USVI (36.5)



1. Boomerang, J/33, Pat Nolan, Tortola, BVI (11)

2. Pipe Dream, Sirena 38, Tortola, BVI (13)

3. Tempest, Beneteau 38, John Haracivet, St. Thomas, USVI (24)



1. Shamrock V, J/120, Tom Mullen, New Hampshire, USA (8)

2. Ambivalence, S279, James Kloss, St. Croix, USVI (13)

3. Cayennita, S27, Tony Sanpere, St. Croix, USVI (15)



1. Charis+, Mongoose 37, Llewellyn Westerman, St. Croix, USVI (14)

2. Piglet, Teegull 23, Joe San Martin, St. Croix, USVI (17)

3. Chaos, Tremolino 23, Inglore Westerman, St. Croix, USVI (32)



1. Wave Magnet, Nacra 5.8, Doug DeReu, St. Croix, USVI (9)

2. Caribbean Auto Mart, Nacra 5.8, Tom Ainger, St. Croix, USVI (19)

3. Love Never Fails, Inter 17, Bruce Andryc, St. Croix, USVI (31)



1. Brand New Second Hand, Chris Curreri, St. Thomas, USVI

2. Fiona, Colin Rathbun, Tortola, BVI

3. Conch-querer, Andrew Waters, Tortola, BVI

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