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Top Competition Set for 34th Intl Rolex Regatta

Top sailors arrive at St. Thomas Yacht Club each spring to compete in the International Rolex Regatta and vie for the Rolex timepieces awarded to class winners.  This year’s regatta, set for March 23 to 25, will be led by Co-directors John Sweeney and Sandy Symkens and Regatta Coordinator Bill Canfield.

If organizers’ plans pan out, there may be one-design classes for Farrs, Melges 32s and Swan 45s.  “OnDeck Ocean Racing will enter one of their Farr 65s to be skippered by OnDeck crew and another one for charter” says Sweeney, and as for other bigger boats, he adds, “We expect Donnybrook to return.” 

Other early entries received by the first of the year included a GS 50 from France and a Melges 32 from Trinidad. “There is a second Tortola-based Melges 32 that will enter,” Sweeney says. “Anthony Kouton represented the St. Thomas Yacht Club at Key West Race Week and attended the Melges 32 class association meeting in an effort to woo them down. We are working with Dockwise & Sevenstar to provide the best price and guaranteed delivery between Miami Race Week and Rolex—which is a tight window.”

Closer to home, he says, “We expect 20 IC-24s.  We are conferring with the owners regarding their preference for use or not of spinnakers. Polling results of the fleet indicates that they will adopt spinnaker use as part of the Class rules.”

“Finally, there has been some discussion from the big catamaran sailors to enter, yet nothing confirmed. Also, there may be a fleet of J/105 sailors from Puerto Rico,” says Sweeney.

Yachts racing under the CSA handicap will include Multihulls, CSA and One-Design classes of at least 24 feet as well as Beach Cats. Continuing over three decades of tradition, winners of qualifying classes will be awarded trophies for first through third places, and the winner of each class will take home a Rolex watch.

Canfield says, “We are excited that more boats using the IRC handicap are coming to the Caribbean. The advent of the Gulf Stream Series entices bigger, more competitive boats from the US and Europe to sail in our events. Plus, it’s not difficult for us to score boats with ratings either in a class of their own or in addition to the CSA Rule in regards to other championships or series. Either way we are happy to have them.”

As for special awards, Sweeney says, “We plan to reinstate the Governor’s Cup.  The Governor will be on hand to present the Cup himself. The winning crew will receive rooms at Marriott Frenchman’s Reef, compliments of the resort and Department of Tourism, to redeem for use in the 2008 regatta.”  Traditionally, the Cup was awarded to the best performing yacht of the Regatta, which has somewhat been subjective. Plans are underway to determine the basis for the new Cup.

On the social agenda are festive shoreside events and the Rolex Prize Giving partnered with a not-to-be-forgotten beach party at the Yacht Club. Deadline for all entries will be Monday, March 19, 2007. For information:  styc@vipowernet.net or 340-775-6320, www.rolexcupregatta.com.

Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

Watching the St. Thomas Rolex from land or sea

On land, Secret Harbor or anywhere along Ridge Road in St. Thomas’ Estate Nazareth area could be an ideal viewing area for Friday’s windward-leeward course racing off the southeast side of the island.
For Saturday, John Sweeney suggests, “Marriott Frenchman’s Reef or any of the second floor restaurants along the Charlotte Amalie waterfront offer a good viewing platform for the harbor course.” On Sunday, either the bar at Sapphire Beach Resort’s Prettyklip Point,  Caneel Bay on St. John, or any other elevated areas, bars or eateries on the west end of St. John might offer excellent vantage point for viewing.

If you want to watch by sea, there are several powerboat rental companies.  Rent a powered monohull or power catamaran in the 25-foot to 31-foot range for $345 to $540 for a full day.  Whether you’re captaining your own spectator boat, or the captain of one, Sweeney suggests that you get a copy of the regatta sailing instructions available online or at the St. Thomas Yacht Club. “This will help spectators understand the layout of the race course,” Sweeney says.

Spectators, he adds, should stay well outside of the course and never let their wake disturb a racer, or for large boats, never create a wind shadow. “There will be several committee boats working the course, so don’t confuse the volunteers with spectators and unwittingly follow them into the racing areas.”

He adds, “The weather mark is the place where most of the action happens. Spectators who position themselves beyond the extent of the finish line, but again well outside of the area, have an opportunity to see some of the close finishes.”

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