A Golden Sun shone on a Golden Rock. About 90 sailors from Holland, the US and St. Maarten joined the Statia Day festivities with a number of activities attended by Queen Beatrix, who left the island shortly after the arrival of the Golden Rock Regatta Fleet.
At the Regatta prize-giving, Governor Hyden Gittens expressed his pleasure at the arrival of the fleet for the second time that week, commemorating the 230th anniversary of the 1st Salute when the guns of Fort Orange replied to the salute fired from the guns of the Brig Andrew Doria. After the handing over of the “Governor’s Trophy” to Tim O’Brien of Jasmin, a 50ft. Moorings 505 crewed by a team from the Manhattan Yacht Club, he in turn was awarded a commemorative plaque by the regatta organizers, celebrating the 230th anniversary of the First Salute. Identical plaques were presented to her Majesty Queen Beatrix and to the commander of the US Warship anchored off Fort Orange.
Second prize went to Dirk-Jan Verdoorn, the skipper of the Statia Invitation Team with the third prize going to Koen Kloosters of Team Volvo. Most of the day trophy’s were won by local sailor Jan vanden Eynde on the Soca (which is still for sale.) He was in a Class on his own due to delays in the completion of the 12 metre Kate on St. Kitts. After the prize-giving the crews found their way to island restaurants where the bands played all night. At midnight the official celebrations ended with a grand show of fireworks.
The Regatta started from Great Bay on the 13th November with a 40 mile Pursuit Race to Statia, sponsored by Chippie. Tim O’Brien on Jasmin took line honours, closely followed by Jan vanden Eynde on Soca and Dirk-Jan Verdoorn on Drimia.
The Second Race to St. Kitts started with a wind of 10 to 12 knots coming from all different directions, a nightmare for the Race Committee. With no prospect of an improvement in the wind, the fleet was sent on its way. As soon as the fleet came in the lee of St. Kitts, those imprudent enough to come close inshore were greeted with a black windless hole! All finally battled through, the wind picked up once more, and everyone arrived with time to spare. This day Soca took line honours and also won on corrected time. They were handed the day trophy by Lloyd Lazar, undersecretary to the minister of Tourism of St. Kitts who gave a warm welcome.
Day three saw the “De Wilgen Vastgoed” trophy race of some 48 miles from St. Kitts via the Passage to St. Barts, which got off to an exiting start. This day too the weather forecast got it wrong—unlike the other days, this time the wind was less than forecast. It started with 12 knots and dropped to around 5 as the boats came out of the Passage. Only two boats managed to finish, the ever present Soca after a race of 7 hrs and 24 minutes and the Manhattan Team on Jasmin beating the deadline of 10 hrs with 12 minutes to spare. This meant that Drimia, who was lying first overall in the Bareboat fleet with 4 points after two races (two 2nd places against Jasmin’s 7 points after a 6th in their second race) lost the lead and could only win if Jasmin got a DSQ on the next race! St. Barths was a free night with no arranged activities ashore.
The fourth day, again with a shortened course and an early start (8:00 a.m.) began with promising winds which kept up all day. This day the Statia First Salute race, another pursuit race, which climaxed in a dramatic finish in the middle of a squall with two warships in attendance in the background. It seemed Soca was catching Jasmin with Jasmin on port tack and Soca on starboard. Jasmin had timed it well and the extra tack cost Soca the race and the regatta.
Both skippers will well pleased with the $500 watches from AMA Jewelers as reward for their performances in the Golden Rock Regatta. Dirk-Jan Verdoorn on Drimia came in third. Klaas van Duuren, skipper of the De Wilgen Vastgoed Team and Regatta Sponsor(!) was the third Bareboat in.
The last and final party was held at Captain Oliver’s Yacht Club in Oyster Pond. Jasmin was the first boat in after yet another day of light winds. The next morning, boats were being cleaned and bags were being packed. Loud laughter everywhere, addresses being swapped and promises being made. The second edition of the Golden Rock Regatta is over! We will be back next year!