5,000 spectators turn out for Carnival Boat Races

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ST. THOMAS — When they weren’t eating delicious food or listening to local music, an overflow crowd of people who packed the waterfront in downtown Charlotte Amalie on Sunday afternoon watched some of the fastest boats in the region compete in the Virgin Islands Carnival Water Sports.

Steve Hunte, the V.I. Carnival Water Sports subcommittee chair, estimated that more than 5,000 people attended the all-day event. They watched as speedsters competed in 11 races and won a combined $16,650 in cash prizes.

“Cash prizes always make things interesting,” said Hunte, who took over as the event chair this year when Glenville Ross Sr. stepped down after seven years of service. “I think we had a great turnout and even though we got a little bit of a late start, we did every race we intended to do.”

The races included everything from Jet Ski events to offshore vessels. Participants from St. Thomas, St. Croix and Puerto Rico rounded buoys at top speeds and captivated the crowd with even more speed on the straightaways.

More than 50 tents were set up along the apron with family and friends sitting in lawn chairs, vendors selling food and ice-cold drinks and different music blaring from oversized speakers.

“The racers look forward to this event all year and so do the fans,” Hunte said. “There’s not a lot of these events around. These guys won’t get a chance to race like this until the July 4th race on St. John, so I think they were really going for it today.”

Roger Francis Sr. was the top earner for the day — he won $2,800 — after racing to first-place finishes in the Unlimited and Offshore races. Both races featured the biggest and fastest boats of the day and the course for each race consisted of two loops that stretched all the way around Hassel Island.

The Jet Skis, medium-sized boats and V Hulls blazed around a circular course in plain view of spectators and after most winners were announced they gave a quick victory lap.

Aside from the cash prizes, each first-place finisher also received a three-foot trophy.

“We want to entice these guys to come back each year,” Hunte said. “Most of them do and we love having them.”

Hunte also praised the U.S. Coast Guard, the St. Thomas Rescue Squad, the Police Department and the countless volunteers who made this year’s event a success.

Water Sports went on a hiatus at Carnival from 1989 to 1994 and Hunte said it’s been the hard work from these groups that have made the event a mainstay again.

“There are so many different people I have to thank because this is a huge team effort,” he said. “Everything ran very smoothly today and we couldn’t be more happy.”

The always-popular greased pole event drew plenty of intrigue from fans. The fun event involved a long pole pointing off the waterfront and slightly slanted toward the water. It was greased up and contestants tried to slip their way down and retrieve a flag at the end of the pole for a cash prize.

A Mack Construction Enterprises truck held the pole in place and the truck’s bed provided onlookers a perfect vantage point for the falling contestants. According to a Water Sports Committee member, Loyda Alejlavio took home top honors and a $100 prize in the event.

— Contact reporter Aaron Gray at 774-8772 est. 352 or e-mail agray@dailynews.vi.


Water Sports Activities Prize Winners

Jet Ski 700-800 Horsepower
1. Alfonso Holmes — $175
2. Christian Greaux — $125
3. Glenville Ross Jr. — $50

Jet Ski 110-1200 Horsepower
1. Robert White — $225
2. Curtis Gonzales — $175

Jet Ski 1300-Supercharge
1. Antonio Fuertes — $300
2. Melly Daniel — $200
3. Gilbert Comissiong — $100

35-50 Horsepower
1. Shawn A. Berry — $375
2. Osa McCleverty — $250

60-90 Horsepower
1. Larry Aubain — $775

100-140 V Hull
1. Alton Phillip — $1,025
2. Daniel Basick — $725

150-200 V Hull
1. Devon Blyden — $1,100
2. Norman Smith — $700

250-300 V Hull
1. Donald Petersen — $1,150
2. Timothy Schoenbohm — $750

Modified Tunnel
1. Anthony Acosta $1,200
2. Donald Petersen $750

1. Roger Francis Sr. — $1,300
2. Kimo Crooke — $900
3. Albert Undo Sr. — $400

1. Roger Francis Sr. — $1,500
2. Kimo Crooke — $1,300
3. Albert Undo Sr. — $1,000

Greased Pole
1. Loyda Alejlavio — $100

Source: Virgin Islands Carnival Water Sports Subcommittee



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