Sussman, Aqui and Searano Sail Ahead of Pack in Blustery Around St. John Race

The Around St. John Race 2008 fleet battled steady winds and seas in an exciting circumnavigation.

Skippers enjoyed a steady 20-plus knots of wind in the St. John Yacht Club’s revitalized Around St. John Race 2008 on Saturday, January 19, but at the end of the day it was Donald Sussman who took the top time.

“At the beginning of the race, it was blowing a steady 20 knots,” said race committee chairman and SJYC vice-commodore Jim Swan. “An hour later it was blowing 28 knots and we had a few squalls pass through too. It was a beautiful and exciting race.”

While the conditions made for exhilarating sailing, only nine of the 12 vessels which started the race crossed the finish line, Swan explained.

“It was pretty windy and rough,” he said. “We had a few break downs. But most  of the boats were pretty big and the captains handled the sailing very well.”

Sussman came in way ahead of the pack,  circumnavigating Love City aboard his 60-foot Gunship catamaran Spirit in just two hours and 49 minutes.

Paul and Vickie Searano took top honors in the non-spinnaker class aboard their Battie 55DP Outlaw, and Lawrence Aqui’s C&C 37 Top Gun, came in first in the spinnaker class.

After not hosting the race last year due to scheduling conflicts, SJYC was pleased with the turnout for the Around St. John Race 2008.

“It was a great turnout and a really nice party at Banana Deck afterwards,” said Swan. “Everyone was smiling. It was definitely a success.”

The strong fleet was partially due to the yacht club  hosting the race in January — at the beginning of the winter race season — instead of the traditional April date. Since the early season date worked so well this year, SJYC won’t change a thing in 2009, explained Swan.

“We did have a conflict with a laser regatta in St. Thomas and the Julius E. Sprauve School fund raiser, but that was originally scheduled for a different night,” he said. “Also it was so windy, some people might not have come over from St. Thomas who normally would. But we’re going to have the race the same time next year because it was so successful.”

The Nauti Yacht Club, SJYC and Coral Bay Yacht Club sponsored Commodore’s Cup is the next Love City regatta of the season, scheduled for early spring.