St. Croix Team Paddles to Painkiller Cup Repeat Victory

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By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway 

Six times participants and defending champions Team NSP of St. Croix, paddled their way to a successful title defense and the  accompanying $2,500 prize, during Saturday’s 14-miles InterCaribbean 6thPainkiller Cup standup paddleboard race from Trellis Bay to White Bay on Jost Van Dyke.

Sailing under perfect conditions on the turquoise waters on the back side of Tortola, teams were comprised of three persons—one of whom had to be a woman—and they changed personnel every 25 minutes. Team NSP was comprised of Bill Kraft, Isabel Picard and Jeremy Vaine.

“The wind was finally lined up this year for the first time and so it was a really fast course today,” Kraft whose team also won three round trip tickets to any destination on InterCaribbean, reflected after the race. “It was just really good for down winding from Trellis Bay to White Bay.”

When asked about the strategy for the event that saw them breaking away from their opponents early in the race, Kraft said the best strategy to win the race is to have a good woman on your crew and you need a strong woman to do well.

Vaine said of the four cups he has competed in, this was the best one hands down. 

“It was so fast and the bumps were so good,” he noted. “The way the wind lined up move perfectly, we had a little bit of swells in there, so we were surfing the whole way. Pretty much when we got through the cut, the wind lined up, bumps lined up the waves and it was super fun surfing.”  

Team High Country from Atlanta, Georgia, comprised of Kim Hillhouse, Kim Barnes and Josh Sloan, placed second and grabbed the $1,250 prize, while Team Fault Torrent of New York with Libby Alexander, her son Colin Alexander and Josh Morell, placed third and won $600.

In his first time racing in the BVI, Harold Cornier, 16, of Puerto Rico who learned about the race on social media, won the 3-miles Mini-Painkiller Cup from Sandy Cay to White Bay, for solo paddleboarders, easily beating the other 24 competitors.  Brian Duff of the BVI was second followed by Cornier’s 13 year old brother Gerald. They all won round trip tickets to any destination of their choice on InterCaribbean. 

“It was really fun because we had a lot of bumps in our favor and I had huge slides,” Cornier who competes in eight races a year, hit the water first and led from the start told Island Sun Sports. “It was really good. The strategy was to get as many bumps as I could and stay in the lead.”

Cornier was enthralled with the BVI’s beauty. He said while races in Puerto Rico are bigger, the views are beautiful and the beaches are pretty much the same. Races in Puerto Rico are longer. 

Event organizer Andy Morrell said it was great fun, perfect weather conditions, said he couldn’t have asked for better as the races were conducted under blue skies and a nice breeze.

“There were a lot of people from the USVI, the winning team came from St. Croix, the second team from Georgia and a team from New York in third and racers from the BVI,” he noted. “In the Mini Painkiller Cup, first and third were from Puerto Rico, so it’s great to see people traveling to the BVI to race.”

When asked what makes the race challenging, Morell said as an open water race, it calls for tactics and strategy.

“It’s a 14-miles long distance race and there are lots of factors,” he noted. “It’s no surprise that the team that’s won it, had competed in this race every time we’ve run it, so they know the waters and they’re familiar with the course.”  

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