The 37th edition is going to be a fleet that is particularly strong in some areas and weakish in others . Here is a quick review:
The Big Boat class has big boats with a nice (relatively low) rating band . We see a "new" Swan 68 entered by Kip Curren. What a pity "Spirit" is not year, the remasted 68 that did so well in many previous regattas. Two Swan 100's could have a good race . Most in this class are sailing with asymetricals or jib alone.
The Ocean Racing Class is a great success. Three Volvo 70's and two very experienced Volvo 60's and this class has to be interesting. Some top line skippers as well makes this a tough class to win in spite of the small number of boats.
CSA One has 11 boats with some old and successfull hands. Scarlet Oyster with Ross Applebey is the most successfull skipper with his well tested boat Oyster 48. Some older Swans like Affinity and Stormy Weather and Azurra will mix with some newer boats like some More 55's and an XP 50.
CSA Two has last weeks class winner of the Caribbean 600 Bernie Wong with a well prepared boat rating at exactly 1.0 ratomg. Sir Richard Matthews Oystercatcher has a much lower rating and is a very new boat. Two Pogo 12.50's might like the heavy wind but look for Lazy Dog from Puerto Rico to be very competitive as he has been at this event for many many years.
CSA Three This is definitely one of the hottest classes int he regatta. Besides the large number (16 boats) there are many very competitive boats with podium expectations. Ben Jelic's J-aguar has not been tested much but claims a new keel and lower rating. There are well tested boats like Quokka, Sunset, Team Boston that can easily squeeze onto the podium. The French A 40 Sonadio has shown to be fast on occasion. The two J122's are boats that have been on the podium many times and in particular El Ocaso whose consistency is quite stunning in this region. But there is also a J111 (Sam Talbot on Spike) and an X41 from Austria. Two First 40's and two 40.7's make up the rest of this strong class.
CSA Four are the older boats, mainly not flying Spinnaker. Bobby Velasquez has dominated this class in the past and even taken an overall. He will be chased like last year by Micron 99 and Avanti but a Swan 44 called Freebird and an old NY40 called Defiant may make it even more interesting.
CSA Five is one of the better classes with well matched boats. Three J105's wil match iwith a J88. two J109's a Beneteau 10R an X 34, A Dufour 34 and the Didi 26 from Kidz at Sea. Many regular Caribbean sailors will be on this race course including three from St Barths (Sophie Olivaud, Raymond Magras and Raphael Magras) Peter Lewis from Barbados and Remco van Dortmondt from Curacao. Future SXM sailors will be with Garth Steyn on the Purple Heart, the Kidz at Sea Programme we are so proud of.
CSA Six is are the lower rated boats around 800 and below. Two Antiguan trophy collectors in the class are Rick Gormley and Tanner Jones, the well practiced sailors from Jolly Harbour. The old Antiguan Scotsman Sandy Mair on Cricket will like the heavier breeze. Expect to see Antiguans on this podium.
The Melges 24 class has seven boats and they will enjoy racing that is different to every other class.The local leaders are aware of the skills of the Martinique team (entered by "Poix") Expect thrilling sailing here and don't ask me for a prediction.
The Offshore Multihull Class involves three Gunboats , a Bieker 53 and an Outremer. These six boats should be well matched and I would expect that the three Gunboats will enjoy the competition of other boat types, somethign that was previously limited by the Gunboat organization.
Multihull One is an exceptional class. There are only four boats but the organizers have correctly put them in a seperate class. They are a Sea Cart, an Oceanic 40 trimaran, a Dragonfly 28 and a 16 m catamaran that was a dedicated racer.
For multihull two and three the organizers have tried to put the great turnout of cruising multihulls into two classes .In some cases this is easy and resulted in the big Catana catamarans (Selika, Agalina with entrants from Germany and Bulgaria) in the faster class. It put the smaller 38 an and 41 foot Lagoons in the lower class. Best entry of this segment in the Caribbean by far.
Bareboat one is the Jeanneau 509 boats (Sunsail 504). Bareboat two is the Jeanneau 463's and Oceanis 48 . Bareboat Three is a mix from 40 to 46 feet. Amongst the entries there is the famous Jan Soderberg, the American Swede who sails Bareboats so well as well as the team "KHS and S Contractors" entered by Mike Cannon and Neil Harvey who already have a collection of bareboat trophies.
The lottery class entry is good news for the event. We know that one of the least covered segments is the casual racer. New events are focussing on superyachts and professional racers and nobody is covering this segment of racing. Bravo to the drivers of this 10 boat entry where a wide mix of boats will get on the water without the hassles in rating preparation that they are not interested in.
Wishing all great sailing!