The 29th International Rolex Regatta, raced out of the St. Thomas Yacht Club from March 26 to 28, bears three important distinctions. First, it’s the longest uninterrupted event in any sport that Rolex sponsors worldwide and the regatta will celebrate 38 years next year. Second, it’s a class act that attracts some of the best racing boats in the world – the Southern Cross 52, Vela Veloce; Judel/Vrolik 52, Interlodge; and Summit 40, White Heat, to name a few. Third, add to this that many come to race for the sheer fun, the tradition, and the friend and family time. What you end up with is one exciting weekend on the water.
Match of the Melges
There were 11 boats competing in the Spinnaker Racing 2 Class. However, St. Croix’s Chris Stanton, sailing with his twin brothers, Peter and Scott, aboard their Melges 24, Devil 3, and the BVI’s Dave West, helming his Melges 32, Jurakan, only had eyes for each other.
In spite of being the same model, eight extra feet on Jurakan translated into an over six minute handicap for every hour of racing. “Basically, if we could see them, they were beating us,” said West.
West did concede that in the last race, when only one point separated the two boats, the Stanton boys showed their prowess on the current in Pillsbury Sound.
“We couldn’t see their finish in the last race,” said Chris Stanton of Jurakan. “It was real quiet on our boat until the scores were posted.” Devil 3 is up for sale. The brothers plan to buy a new hull and campaign it in the U.S. as well as Caribbean. “It’s time to expand our horizons,” said Stanton.
The brothers would ideally like to team up with fellow Crucian racing team, Bad Girl, a J/100, and travel together throughout the U.S. to race in some of the same events.
What’s up with the IC-24s?
This Rolex marks nine years since the IC-24, a J/24 design modified by two St. Thomas sailors – Chris Rosenberg and Morgan Avery – debuted.
“The Puerto Rico class is still growing,” said Rosenberg, who raced this year with his brother, Suki, aboard Ice Cubed. “Tortola is now where St. Thomas is, a little slow. There need to be events other than Rolex for us to all come out and sail. It would be great to get a sponsor for the class.”
The BVI’s Colin Rathbun, who sailed his IC-24, Lime, said, “The numbers are down a bit, but it’s all a cycle and it’s a great class, so I think the enthusiasm is coming back.” The IC-24 class is finding some of its new life in the next generation.
Puerto Rico’s Fraito Lugo, who won the class aboard his Orion and who converted all nine IC-24s currently on the island, agrees and adds, “We’re hearing interest and eventually would like to make the IC-24s part of the junior sailing programs in San Juan and Ponce.”
The IRC Fleet
The International Rolex Regatta is now one of the few Caribbean sailing events to include an IRC class. Doing so attracts some highly competitive racers. “We wouldn’t have come without it,” says Bill Alcott, from Detroit, Michigan, who races his Andrews 68, Equation. “We felt like it gave us a fair chance at winning.”
Last year five IRC yachts raced; this year there were eight. John Sweeney, regatta director, said, “We had a good fleet this year and last, but they were different boats. What we’re hoping is that they all come back to race with us next year.”
It’s a Family Affair in the Beach Cats
St. Thomas’ John Holmberg traded sailing his IC-24 this year for skippering a Hobie 16, Time Out, with his 11-year-old son Kai. “I love sailing beach cats, it’s a really great class,” said Holmberg, who won the class.
Similarly, newcomer to the class, St. Thomas’ Michael Williams raced his Hobie 16, Chancletero, with his 13-year-old daughter, Marie. “She loves hanging out on the trap wire,” Williams said. “People just don’t know how fun it is.”
St. Croix’s Chris Schreiber, aboard his Hobie 16, Auto Maniac, who formerly sailed with his son, Chris Jr., before he left for college, agreed. “It’s fun. Cheap, and this is one of the best placed to sail because the water and wind are warm.”
They’d never sailed before, let along raced, but that didn’t stop the students in the Introduction to the Marine Industry class at St. Thomas Ivanna Eudora Kean High School from having a great time – and even beating two boats and scoring a Third in one race – in the eight boat Non-Spinnaker Racing Class. Instructor, Stan Lorbach, said, “I was really proud of them.”
Eleventh grade students, Kennedy Henry and Chad Crooke, worked together as grinders and to control the mainsail. “It was a rush,” said Henry. “I got the hang of it right away.” In spite of a little seasickness the first day, Crook said, “It was really fun, especially when we heeled over and you actually had to climb up the side of the cockpit.” Both boys said they would like to race again.
TOP BOATS BY CLASS
(Full results: www.rolexcupregatta.com)
IC 24 (One Design – 14 Boats)
Orion, IC 24, Fraito Lugo, Ponce, Puerto Rico
Spinnaker Racing 1 (CSA – 2 Boats)
Spirit of Isis, Farr 65, Elizabeth Brookes, Antigua
Spinnaker Racing 2 (CSA – 11 Boats)
Devil 3, Melges 24, Chris Stanton, St. Croix, USVI
Non-Spinnaker Racing (CSA – 9 Boats)
Cayennita Grande, J 36 Antonio Sanpere,
St. Croix, USVI
(CSA – 17 Boats)
Lost Horizon, James Dobbs, Antigua
IRC (IRC – 8 Boats)
Vela Veloce, Southern Cross 52′,
Richard Oland, Canada
Beach Cats (5 Boats)
Time Out, Hobie 16, John Holmberg, USVI