Today marked the final day of racing in the Gill BVI Match Racing Championship and the overnight leader, local favourite Colin Rathbun, had a real fight on his hands, losing the first two races to set up a fascinating finale with Guy Mossman (South Carolina, USA). The breeze blowing down the channel was gusting up to 18knots producing foaming and at times confused seas. It was a day where boat handling was key and Rathbun held his nerve to take an unassailable two-race margin in the final to win the Gill BVI Match Racing Championship.
Denise Holmberg provided riveting commentary throughout the championship: “Today the wind was just as shifty as the first day, but with big breeze it was a lot more exciting for the spectators at Nanny Cay,” commented Denise. “It was a long day today and the racing was extremely close. The level of all the teams was pretty even and we didn’t know who was going to come in the top five let alone win. I have to say that I have been really impressed with Nikki Barnes because she came from behind several times to win races and it takes a lot to catch a boat on these tight courses. She had good boat speed and the confidence to do something different to win.”
Nikki Barnes placed third but at just 18 years of age, she is one of St Thomas’ hottest prospects: “My coach is Peter Holmberg, I love my parents, but he is like a second father to me and he is so inspirational. Colin Rathbun is a very skilled match racer and I have never been able to beat him, even though I have managed to beat top rated sailors at least once, Colin seems unbeatable! We don’t get to race so much in the Virgin Islands, so for me this is a really special event.”
Colin Rathbun’s team had a real fight on their hands to win the championship with Guy Mossman, especially as Guy won the first Round Robin of the day undefeated, so Mossman went into the final round very confident and in good shape and riding high but Rathbun had not been having such a good day. However, the Tortolan managed to regroup and win the final with two wins in a row and the prizegiving party on Nanny Cay Beach erupted with cheers as Colin and his team went up to take a bow:
“We had two very different days, the first day was light and shifty, but we had to change the gears a lot today with a stiff breeze coming down the channel out of the east,” commented Colin.
“Things started hard for us and we lost a little ground and today was all about winning the start, because there were no big shifts, the start determined the race. This is definitely a team game and the crew today were just great; Henry Leonnig, Jason Putley, Nick Cunha are my friends and I love to go racing with them and we all live here, so it was a pretty emotional win really. Today the tough stuff was the crew work and we were up against some really good sailors, even though we had a few hairy moments we managed to recover and all credit to the guys, their boat handling won us this regatta.”
Chris Haycraft officiated at the Prizegiving and thanked Bill Canfield and the race team, as well as all of the team who put on the event. David Pritchard, President of Gill North American spoke before the prizes were awarded: “Gill are delighted with the organization of the event and would like to thank all the competitors as well, especially those that have travelled so far to get here for the event. It was hard work out there especially today and congratulations to all of you on such a great event, which Gill have been very proud to sponsor.”