Going south for the winter has taken on new meaning for those entered in the International Rolex Regatta in the U.S. Virgin Islands. From March 23-25, 2007, the finest yachtsmen and women from around the Caribbean, United States, and Europe will indulge in three days of world-class racing on the warm, clear waters surrounding St. Thomas Yacht Club, the event’s host for 34 years. The culmination of the lively competition, which includes handicap and one-design racing around buoys in open water as well as through the picturesque islands and cays in Cowpet Bay and Pillsbury Sound, will be the presentation of a coveted Rolex timepiece to each class winner.
"With a month to go before registration closes," said Event Co-Chair John Sweeney, "we are expecting our usual mix of veterans and an influx of new talent."
Perennial competitor Bill Alcott (Detroit, Mich.), owner of the Great Lakes-based Andrews 70 Equation, will charter a Swan 60 for the competition. "I do what I call the trifecta — the International Rolex Regatta, the BVI Regatta and then down to Bitter End. It’s the best ten days of my life — it has been for decades, and I’m not stopping now."
Doug Baker (Long Beach, Calif.), owner of the record-breaking Andrews 80 Magnitude, will sail an Olson 30 at the event with St. Thomas native Ben Beer aboard to serve as "local knowledge."
Returning to the event is John Gallo (Princeton, NJ) and his crew aboard the J/41 Rivoli. Rivoli won the Around the Island Race in St. Thomas two years ago, and formerly, as Dazzler, won the Newport to Bermuda Race.
"We have quite a bunch of characters on our boat," said crewmember Susan Wolterbeek. "John is an entrepreneur, pilot and former jockey; his captain, Jean Braure, is a three-time sailing Olympian and alpine guide."
The USVI’s own Olympic aspirant in the 49er class, Anthony Kotoun, plans to skipper an IC/24 (20 of the indigenous boats are expected) or possibly switch to a Melges 24. "The International Rolex Regatta was the first pinnacle event I ever sailed in," said Kotoun, who is fund raising in St. Thomas and his "other" hometown of Newport, R.I. "It was great when I was a kid, and it’s still great; with so much buoy racing I have to do, I still love ripping around the islands."
Kotoun pairs with another local long-time International Rolex Regatta sailor Cy Thompson in his quest for Olympic gold; however, Thompson has collegiate sailing team commitments that are expected to keep him from competing this year in St. Thomas.
OnDeck, a company that runs excursion races in St. Thomas’ Charlotte Amalie harbor aboard its charter fleet of ocean racing yachts, will enter one of its Farr 65s with a supplied crew and offer another as a race-ready bareboat charter. The boats are likely to join Jim Muldoon’s (Washington, D.C.) Custom 70 Donnybrook and Clive Llewellyn’s GS50 Mad IV from France on the starting line.
The Governor’s Cup, supported by newly elected USVI Governor John deJongh and the V.I. Office of Tourism, will be awarded to the boat and crew that has traveled the farthest to race in the event. The winners will receive free accommodations at the Frenchman’s Reef Hotel for the 2008 running of the International Rolex Regatta.
Yachts will be divided into classes according to their ratings under the CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association) Rating Rule (www.caribbean-sailing.com), with special classes accommodating one-designs, multihulls and Beach Cats, as needed.
Volunteers Join the Fun
On the beaches of Cowpet Bay, the volunteers and staff of the St. Thomas Yacht Club will again demonstrate the personal touch and generous hospitality for which the International Rolex Regatta is famous. "Sailors and their families will renew old friendships and make new ones while experiencing the very best in food, parties, and entertainment," said St. Thomas Yacht Club Commodore Thomas Moore.
Co-chairing the event are Sandy Symkens and John Sweeney, in charge of shoreside and on-water action, respectively. Denis Comment is Honorary Chairman, with Arthur Wullschleger and Ruth Miller serving as Chief Judges and David Brennan serving as Principal Race Officer.
Committee Chairs are:
Tara Ashmore – Treasurer
Joyce Bailey – Committee Desk
Shep Barrows – Race Committee
Walter Bostwick – Public Relations
Bill Canfield – Trophies/Awards
Rob Carlin – Parking
Gordon Hackstaff – Race Equipment
Terry Hudson – Dock Master
Dr. Carolyn Jones – EMS
Bill Newbold – House Committee
Frannie Newbold – Committee Desk
Lyn Reid – Registration
Ansen Sligar – Web Master
Amanda Symkens – Merchandise
Sandy Symkens – Events Coordinator
Christine Thompson – Sailing Liaison Officer
Barbara Vilmanyi – Beverages
Deadline for all entries is Monday, March 19, 2007.
For information on the International Rolex Regatta, contact Bill Canfield at email@example.com or 340-775-6320. The regatta web page is www.rolexcupregatta.com where further information and online-entry forms can be found.