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Flying Circus Wins Mount Gay Rum Commodore's Cup

Lady Luck and Mother Nature teamed up to compete in the 6th annual Mount Gay Rum Commodore’s Cup Regatta, held May 14 to 15 out of the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John. It was on well-known local skipper Neil Newhard’s Columbia 50, Flying Circus, where these ladies worked their winning wiles. As a result, Newhard and a friend will soon enjoy an all-expense paid trip to Barbados, compliments of Mount Gay Rum. “We had a really lucky weekend,” Newhard said.

23 yachts in three classes – Spinnaker, Non Spinnaker and Pursuit – launched off on the first day’s course, which took the fleet from Two Brothers rocks near Cruz Bay to Coral Bay.

“The winds were fairly light, about 7 to 10 knots,” Newhard said. “We got a third that day. I’m not sure we would have done this well if another boat hadn’t dropped out.”

Winds were even lighter for the second day’s race, in which the fleet sailed out of Coral Bay harbor on a windward-leeward run that rounded Flanagan and LeDuck islands. “We led the whole way until Mad Anna, the biggest boat in the regatta, overtook us. But we still won the day on handicap,” Newhard said.

After combining the two days’ scores, Newhard’s Flying Circus won the Non-Spinnaker class. St. John’s Robbie Hoyt, aboard his Custom 52, Snap, topped the Pursuit Class, and St. Thomas’ David Flaherty earned the top slot in Spinnaker Racing at the helm of his Etchell 24, Ghost.

But, the racing didn’t end at this point.

Each winning skipper then jumped aboard a Laser for a short windward-leeward race. “We came up with this idea as a fun way to determine the overall winner,” says Scott Barnett, regatta director.

“I got a puff of wind near the end of the race and came from last place to finish first,” Newhard explained. Newhard’s victory earned him the coveted trip to Barbados.

“I’ve never been to Barbados, but I’m looking forward to it,” Newhard said.

The Mount Gay Commodore’s Cup Regatta benefits the nonprofit Kids and the Sea (KATS) Program.


(Top 3 in each Class)


1. Flying Circus, Columbia 50, Neal Newhard, St. John

2. Mad Anna, Morgan 60, Nicholas Battles, St. John

3. Saoirse, Beneteau 38, Seamus Salmon, Ireland


1. Ghost, Etchell 24, David Flaherty, St. Thomas

2. Red Headed Stepchild, C&C 34, Dana Carini, St. John

3. Tempest, Beneteau 38, John Haracivet, St. Thomas


1. Snap, Custom 52, Robbie Hoyt, St. John

2. Tiger Maru, 37' Laurent Giles, Julian Davis, St. John

3. O’Dege, Camper Nicholson 32, Sara O’Neill, St. John

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