It was the crew of Hawkeye making a major impact as the 2016 Suzuki Marine Barbados J/24 National Championship sailed off on Sunday with the first regatta of the season – the Taylors Cycle Centre J/24 Regatta in Carlisle Bay.
Hawkeye ended the day in first position after two wins from three starts, with Bunga Bunga second, Esperanza third and College Fund$ fourth. These were followed by Impulse, Glory Daze, FLY RACING and The Phoenix.
Eight boats sailed out to the race-course on a day that comprised of three races in a windward/leeward format. Conditions were relatively clear and light with winds from the East to South Easterly direction averaging around 10-14 knots.
The race committee from the Barbados Yacht Club set a great course which made for a good day of sailing. In the first race it was Banks Esperanza that jumped out to an early lead by the first mark after a nice start at the pin end of the start line.
They were followed by Bunga Bunga, FLY Racing Team and Republic Bank’s Impulse. Current national champions Williams Industries’ Hawkeye got off to a slow start and were not able to surge back to the leaders finishing in fifth place. The top runners maintained their lead and finished in that order with Ian Mayers and his crew on Banks Esperanza claiming the victory, while the rest of the fleet were left to battle for the lower positions.
Race two started with a bit more intensity with the race committee having to re-start the race after more than half the fleet were over the start line before the start horn sounded; almost like a false start in track and field. This happens from time to time when the sailors get a bit anxious and are jostling to put their boats in position to get the best start.
The race got going the second time around, this time with Williams Industries’ Hawkeye taking an early advantage and getting into clear air by some good tactical manoeuvres by their skipper Robert Povey heading way into the north end of Carlisle Bay to get a favorable wind shift to be able to cross the entire fleet on Port tack to be first at mark 1. College Fund$ skippered by Jason Tindale were second to the mark followed by Bunga Bunga skippered by Charlie Gloumeau. On leg four of the course,Bunga Bunga and Esperanza managed to squeak by College Fund$ by taking advantage of stronger winds to the right side of the course but these positions changed once more going on to the final leg withCollege Fund$ taking the second place over Bunga Bunga and Esperanza. Williams Industries Hawkeye sailed on to a nice victory after separating from the rest of the pack and being able to basically protect their lead.
The course for Race No. 3 was set for a downwind start which is always a bit tricky for the sailors as it is not the traditional way of starting. However, it always adds to the excitement and intrigue because it keeps the boats close together for that first leg of the course and it gives teams the option to start on that leg with the spinnaker. Each team devises what they think will be the best and safest strategy and then tries to execute their plan.
The race got off to a relatively clean start and it was Glory Daze skippered by Dr. Gus Reader which took a conservative approach to start without a spinnaker that came out among the front-runners after the first mark. Hawkeye took the lead once again with some nifty moves to start followed closely by Glory Daze. These two then sailed tremendously well to get away from the pack and consolidate their advantage over the eight legs of the course to finish first and second.
The battle for third place was on between Banks Esperanza, Bunga Bunga, Republic Bank’s Impulse, and College Fund$ which were in last position at the first mark. By the second lap College Fund$ were still in fifth place but took a chance to sail further south than the other boats in search of better wind and were able to capitalise on a wind shift that catapulted them up to third place.
They were able to defend that position to the finish line with Bunga Bunga holding on for the fourth place. The regatta was a great start to the 2016 season and both the sailors and sponsors are already looking forward to the next regatta for more keen competition and excitement.