The Grand Prix Ecole Navale is one of the most famous French sailing events, organised annually by the French Naval Academy. Sailing is spread across three sites centred around Crozon, catering for over 1500 sailors in a variety of classes. Ovington Boats and the French distributor Carre Distrabution decided the GPEN was the perfect platform to hold the inaugural VX One Euro Cup. The French Navy organised everything from the racing to the accommodation and evening entertainment. All the sailors have to do is turn and enjoy themselves; everything else is done for them. The VX One fleet hosted sailors from the UK, Belgium, France and USA. Racing started on the Thursday, and with a marginal forecast the committee did their best to get things moving. Despite three starts, the wind either dropped off or switched through 180 degrees making a finish impossible. After several hours on the water, it was finally decided to abandon and return to the bar. Friday was scheduled for an early start, however again due to light winds sailing was postponed until mid-day. The fleet launched at 1pm with good breeze all the way out to the race course. Eventually though, the wind gods decided it wasn’t to be, meaning another early retirement to the bar. With a solid forecast for the Saturday, the final day of racing, it was all to play for! An early start by all saw the first race getting under way by 10am. Nathan Batchelor and Andy Weatherspoon set the pace winning the first three races. The rest of the positions swapped and changed, the most consistent results coming from the USA boat of Brian and Hayden Bennett, and Gerard Daugey and Christian Chapelin in FRA192. In theory, going into the final race the second two steps of the podium were going to be fought out between these two boats. However, under the radar, three young French sailors normally making their mark in the European laser fleets were lurking ready to pounce. The stage was set then for the final race. A shift and strengthening in the breeze meant a change of course, this time covering 7 nautical miles. First out the blocks were the USA boat closely followed by two GBR boats. This is how the positions stayed for the first lap, but a split in the fleet (half going left whilst the other half chose to go right) would cause a re-shuffle of the pack. The GBR boat of Anne Noble, Lester Noble and John McAfee would see themselves slip from second to fifth, with Gerard and Christian (FRA192) passing Nathan and Andy (GB179) for second, and the three young Laser upstarts moving into fourth. Just as all looked to be done, Gerhard sailed the wrong side of the finish mark, handing second back to Nathan and Andy with the French youngsters finishing third. USA 208 led from start to finish taking the win. The prize-giving was held in the spectacular Navale Academy. All sailors from the event were in attendance, treated to a sit-down evening meal before a podium ceremony for each fleet. The atmosphere was electric with stories and anecdotes from each race being shared through the course of the evening. Final results saw Nathan Batchelor and Andy Weatherspoon take the win, second place went to Brian and Hayden Bennett, with the young French boat coming a solid third. The event was an outstanding success, great racing, great hospitality and new friends that no doubt we will see again.
Eighteen classes with 243 boats competed amid breezy conditions at Charleston Race Week 2016, held April 15-17 in Charleston, SC, including eight VX Ones. Kevin Gillman’s GiddyUp notched all firsts and seconds for 7 net points in six races. Both John Potter and Greg Fisher’s Chuck Wagon kept all of their scores in the top three, but it was Potter who edged out Fisher for second place (10 points to 11). For complete results, click here.
The third and final day of the 45th BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival delivered the fleet with a light easterly of 8-12 knots throughout the morning, becoming a little lighter towards the end of racing. New to the Spring Regatta this year was the VX One fleet. Tim Pitts (USA), fleet chairman, who took third overall in class racing on Cruzan Rhode, said, “It was absolutely perfect, we enjoyed everything from the weather, to the conditions, the hospitality here was just great. We had 11 boats sailing all weekend in premium conditions. Jeff Eiber on This Side Down (USA) sailed extremely well and deserves every bit of his win. The courses were perfect, the race committee listened to all our input and it’s probably the best-managed racing we’ve had and we’ll be back next year.” This Side Down, VX One fleet overall winner and recipient of the first VX One Caribbean Cup, was the family team, Keven and Jeff Eiber with their 22-year old son Emery. “Certainly sailing together as a family this week has been the highlight. It is such a challenge every time (LOL!), but the highlight is that we did it!” For complete event details, visit http://www.bvispringregatta.org/.
The real story of the 43rd St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) was wind. Lots of it. Gusts blustered over 30 knots all three days with 6 to 8 foot seas. Yet combine these conditions with 80-degree weather, bright sun and bathwater warm turquoise seas and it’s a recipe that racers on the 67 entered boats relished. It was a test of the Class Rules in the VX One Class. Class Rules for regattas call for no starts when the median wind speed exceeds 22 knots. Class vice-president and St. Croix native Tim Pitts called for an increase in that limit to 27 knots. As a result, the Class raced all three days. “We’re maturing as a Class, and although anything over 25 knots is challenging, the skill level is there to handle it,” said Pitts, who now lives in Newport, RI, and is responsible bringing the VX One fleet to the Virgin Islands. “On the other hand, it’s kind of ironic to invite your friends down and beat them in my own backyard. Still, although I’ve been on several STIR winning boats, this is the first time it was my boat that won.” For full information about the Round the Rounds and St. Thomas International Regatta, including results, photos, social schedule and more, please visit www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com.
An island tour on fast forward is the best way to describe the courses and conditions for most classes on the second day of racing in the 43rd St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR). The one-design VX One class sailed round-the-buoys, as winds remained in full force with continual gusts over 30 knots making for some wet and wild rides. The VX One fleet pow-wowed in the morning to discuss wind conditions and seven brave teams decided to venture out. It paid off as the teams who did race had a blast and suffered much fewer capsizes than the first day. One of those racing was 15-year-old St. Thomas junior sailor, Christopher Sharpless. “It was so windy that one of the teams wanted to add a third crew member for extra weight,” says Sharpless, who sailed with St. Croix’s Charles ‘Toro’ Goodrich’s Matadora and trimmed the mainsheet. “The boat is fast, scary fast. Going downwind is so much fun. I’d like to see a class of VX Ones here all the time to sail.” For full information about the Round the Rounds and St. Thomas International Regatta, including results, photos, social schedule and more, please visit www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com.
For the first time, a VX One fleet of 11 boats will be mixing it up with its larger brethren out on the turquoise waters of the British Virgin Islands in the 45th edition of the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival. Sailors from around the globe, including Australia, Canada, St. Croix and the USA, have teamed up to form the first VX One fleet to race the Caribbean Cup March 25-27 at St. Thomas and April 1-3 in the BVI Spring Regatta; an exciting new addition to both events which brings new competitors into the mix. Toro Goodrich and his crewmember, Manuel Gutierrez, grew up together in St. Croix and are looking forward to returning to the Caribbean to race Spring Regatta for the first time: “Doing the STIR and Spring Regatta is a (sailing) bucket list. Being able to charter a VX One with my best friend made the decision to join both events this year that much easier,” Goodrich said. He thinks the VX One is a great one design boat for the Caribbean, with its modern design and fairly simple controls, small crew requirements, and ease to dry sail. “The asymmetrical spinnaker helps create fun downwind tactics, it’s a fun, simple, fast and exciting boat to sail,” Goodrich added. Michael James, from Brisbane, Australia, is also heading into his first Spring Regatta. He’s owned a VX One for almost two years and was inspired to travel to the BVI to meet up with other VX One owners and to race with the VX One fleet in its inaugural Caribbean cup during the BVI Spring Regatta. “There are very good sailors in the VX One fleet. I think it will be a tough regatta to place in,” James said. He added, “It’s a great Caribbean race-boat because it’s fast, simple and fun. Did I mention FAST?” Tim Pitts, organizer for the Class and Class VP, said: “To date we have 11 boats signed up, and I think the competition will be stiff, with the Aussies being the boats to beat.” Pitts has been racing his VX One for four years and loves the fact that the boat is inexpensive to move around and can be sailed with just 2-3 people. “We can send six boats from the US to the Caribbean for the cost of going to Florida from Newport!” This will be Pitts’ ninth Spring Regatta, and he’s looking forward this time to being on board the VX One: “It’s a great boat to show off and an amazing boat for the Caribbean. I’m looking forward to sailing hard and owning my rum and coke every day!” The inclusion of the VX One sport boat fleet was facilitated when BVI Spring Regatta combined efforts with St. Thomas and the STIR Regatta, providing a unique racing opportunity for sailors to race two International regattas over 10 days. Judy Petz, Regatta Director, said: “It’s exciting that 11 of these boats will be shipped from Miami to the Caribbean for these two events which lead off in just a week. We hope this will become an annual event and a fantastic opportunity for other One Design classes to join in the competition. Registration for this year’s event kicks off at noon on March 28, with the Opening Party at 6pm. March 29 brings on the Nanny Cay Challenge, a 31-nautical mile jaunt around Tortola for the Nanny Cay Cup and challenge for the fastest mono and catamaran record around the island, with the Scrub Island Invitational the following day setting the stage for a competitive and challenging week of racing in the spectacular waters of the BVI. For more information, visit www.bvispringregatta.org.
That’s a wrap for BACARDI Miami Sailing Week (March 10-12), with five events enjoying Bacardi hospitality and mostly strong winds. On the VX One course, one team managed to run away with the championship title despite the dynamic conditions on the race course. Winner Marcus Eagan took the lead on day one of racing and continued to dominate the fleet throughout the weekend. Crew member Andrew Eagen (USA 177) said “the biggest challenge we thought we would face this week was sailing three up. This was the first time we have ever sailed with three people in the boat, but because it was so windy it definitely worked to our advantage. Having an extra set of eyes that could tell us what was going on out on the race course was a huge help.”
VX One Results (Top 5 of 21; 8 races, 1 discard)
1. USA 177 Marcus Eagan, Andrew Eagan, Jen Wulff – 10 pts
2. USA 187 John Potter, David Guggenheim, Tara Berkinsky – 13 pts
3. USA 185 Phillip Norris, Christina Norris, Bruma Perez – 37 pts
4. USA 175 Ched Proctor, Michael Norris, David Lutian – 43 pts
5. USA 110 Rod Favela, Daniel Ponton, Ryan Vittmberga – 44 pts
For complete event information, visit www.miamisailingweek.com.
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The final stop of the VX One Winter Series took place on February 13-14 at Sarasota Sailing Squadron with near perfect conditions for the seven races. Marcus Eagan’s Cajun Underwriting continued to dominate the 21-boat fleet with a scoreline of 1,1,1,(3),1,1,3 for 8 net points. Sam Padnos’ TWD followed in second place with 17 points and Brian Bennett in third with 28. Full results are available by (clicking here). Eagan also earned the 32-boat Winter Series victory which encompassed events at SSS and Pass Christian Yacht Club. John Potter took second in the series, with Dustin Brennan’s Marks-O-Lot Hero in third, Emily Billing’s Jailbird in fourth and Kevin Gillman’s Giddy Up in fifth.
The VX One Class will be a vital part of the St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) set for March 25-27 hosted out of the St. Thomas Yacht Club. The 12 VX Ones are among a fleet of 80-plus yachts registered to race. The VX One Class holds its first international event, the VX One Caribbean Cup, a two-leg series that starts with STIR and concludes at the BVI Spring Regatta. This exciting and fast-growing Class is now sailed in nine countries worldwide. One of the dozen 19-foot VX One’s competing in this one-design Class is Australia’s Andrew York aboard his Australia Two. “I look forward to sailing against my U.S. VX One friends in good breeze and open water,” says York, whose sailing credits include representing Australia in 12 World Championships in four different classes, competing in two America’s Cups and coaching at a national and Olympic level. York’s crew are fellow Aussies, the father and daughter team of Rob and Nicole Douglass. Together, the Douglass’s have won multiple Australia Tasar titles and two World Championships. Separately, Rob is a Spiral National Champ and Nicole has competed on Australia’s Women’s World Match Racing Team. One of the U.S. teams York will be testing his skills against is George Gamble aboard My Sharona. “Beautiful clear warm water, great competition and a stiff breeze is what we’re looking forward to,” says Gamble, who won the J/111 World Championship and finished third at the VX One North American Championship last year. It’s a family affair for another U.S.-based VX One team on Commando. Helmsman Andy Walford, will be joined by crew of wife, Beth, and eldest son, Richard. “As club level sailors, we are looking forward to some warm water sailing in the brisk breezes of the Caribbean and a competitive regatta,” says Walford, who grew up dinghy sailing in the UK before moving to the U.S. in the late 1980s where he sailed in the 505 Worlds in 2004 and Melges 24 Worlds in 2011. “The VX One is well suited to the conditions to provide a really exhilarating ride. Along with the shore activities, it’s going to be a great vacation.” Check out STIR on Facebook (www.facebook.com/stirvi), Twitter @stycvi and Instagram #STIRSTT.