By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Might as well organizers advise teams competing in the annual InterCaribbean Pain Killer Cup, that they should fight for second place. For the last seven years that the event has been held, St. Croix’s Bill Craft and his Space Kraft team of Isabel Pacard and Jeremey Vaine, have finished no less than second place.
Saturday on a more challenging course with bigger waves and stronger north winds than they had faced in previous race editions that arrived ahead Sunday’s ‘bomb cyclone’ the trio—who interchanged every 25 minutes—used their tactical skills, knowledge and experience to easily bury the field for a 3-peat victory.
Unlike previous editions of the 14-miles paddle board race from Trellis Bay on Beef Island to White Bay, Jost Van Dyke when they meandered directly downwind after leaving Beef Island and relying on their speed in the open water, they used Guana Island as shield to block the high wind and waves and utilize less energy, then went southwest to Jost Van Dyke.
“The direction of the wind was still challenging,” said Kraft whose team collected the $2,500 top prize. “Being out of the north, we really had to fight the winds to get to White Bay for 14 miles, so it was a good battle all the way to the end.”
Kraft said because of the north winds they went to Guana Island so that they could make it to Sandy Split—south east of Jost Van Dyke—to come around the corner into White Bay.
“You had to do that or you would have gone into Josiah’s Bay or somewhere else, because of the northeast wind,” said Kraft, whose team has finished second four times. “The north wind made it much tougher than last year. But we train together all the time. We train hard in rough water.”
Picard said the north wind wasn’t pushing them in the direction they were going.
“We had to fight big waves that were coming from our side instead of from behind,” she noted. “We’ve done it so many times, but this was the hardest one.”
Vaine said while there was some fun to be had, the conditions were super challenging.
“The ocean was in charge today,” Vaine said. “There were some big north winds, some sneaky north swells, we had a little bit of everything going on out there, but the team that we have and the fun makes it all worthwhile.”
St. Thomas’ Crossfit, comprised of Gilly Ann Smith Tristan Herman and Christopher Alsop, were second and won $1250, while Josh Morrell, Libby Alexander and Tom Blackwell of New York, earned $800 for third place. St. Thomas Jake Owens, Deirdre Roy and Eric Hartfield were third.
Hartfield described his event debut as an adventure.
“Depending on who was doing what leg, everything was different,” he pointed out. “You had some smooth water, some chop, downwind—everything was different and we had to tailor our approach—depending on what was thrown at us.”
Brian Duff led a BVI residents sweep of the three miles race from Sandy Cay to White Bay. He was followed by Lee Donovan and Saski Lans. Johnathan Eden of Cleveland, Ohio, was fourth.
Egan said he wanted to do something cool after his divorce and love open water paddling and had a blast.
“The open channel were huge cross chops that wanted to throw you off your board, knock you into the ocean and send you adrift,” he said. “I held through, started out in second but didn’t hold on a well and lost a couple spots.”
Event organizer Andy Morrell, said this year’s race was very challenging.
“It was very difficult for the racers, but a real test of battling and athletic ability,” he said. “It was really good. Probably the most exciting race we ever ran.”