Conditions during the week were near perfect with steady 15-18-knots each day until the final day when they went variable. Racing commences in the sheltered waters off Virgin Gorda's North Sound.
Day two sees the thrilling Anegada race where competitors reach 13-miles from Virgin Gorda to Pomato Point on Anegada's West end. Anegada differs from the rest of the British Virgin Islands in that it is flat affording no visual references until the racers approach the islands shore.
It was in this race that the Schurmann was threatened by a charging Jean-Marc Peyronnet from St Martin. In fact, Peyronnet reached the beach just ahead of Schurmann but the Brazilian ground him down on the run ot the finish flag.
Schurmann trounced the fleet in the next days race from Leverick Bay to The Baths on Virgin Gorda. "Top racers always do well in this race," confirmed race organizer Andy Morrell. "It's the most technical of the races we offer during the week."
Long downwind races dominate the middle portion of the event as the fleet makes it's way down the South side of Tortola, the main island in the British Virgin Islands. The Sir Francis Drake channel offers strong winds, occasional wild sea conditions and many islands. Schurmann predictably dominated Thursday's 22-mile race from Scrub to Peter Island. Local racer Sam Talbot held a commanding position until his harness lines broke allowing Peyronnet to claim second and UK racer Rupert Rhodes in for 3rd.
The penultimate day of the event again saw lead changes as the racers in the front sailed well low of mark #2 off St John. Talbot saw the error first and hardened up to round ahead of Schurmann & Peyronnet. Back in third on the way to mark #3 the Brazilian sailed hard to pull back into the lead in one leg.
For the final day of racing the fleet of Moorings yachts anchored off the lee of Sandy Spit off Little Jost Van Dyke. Racers rigged for the first of two planned races. The first race was underway with a start in light winds but an advancing squall saw them build to over 20-knots. The course was simply to sail around neigboring Sandy Cay and as the racers made their way back in the stiffer breeze it was again Schurmann in the lead with Peyronnet in second. Third was Rupert Rhodes while South African racer Julian Field secured his best finish of the week with a 4th while Junior racer Stuart Jennings rounded out the top five.
The surprise finish of the final race was local Virgin Gorda competitor Gabriel "Gumshion" Creque repeating his 7th place finish from the day before.
While a 2nd race was planned, the wind did not fill back in following the squall and organizers cancelled further compeition meaning the event was left with 7 races in six days. This mean't Schurmann took 1st overall with a win in every race, Jean-Mark Peyronnet was second overall with a consistent 2nd place finish in each race. Talbot tied with Rupert Rhodes but won the tie based on his winning more races than the UK racer. Alain Montazour rounded out the top five.
Interestingly, all top ten finishers were from a different country. The top ten racers were from Brazil, St Martin, the BVI, the UK, France, the Cayman Islands, Thailand, Australia, the USA and South Africa.
Organizers were very pleased. "We had great wind all week which means we were able to run very good races," explained Andy Morrell of Ocean Promotions. "Good racing along with fun parties are the essence of this event." Plans are already underway for the 2009 edition which is the events 25th anniversary. "Next year will be big," conceded Morrell.
The annual Highland Spring HIHO event is sponsored by Highland Spring Water, The Moorings, Neil Pryde and HIHO.
Source: Neil Pryde