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Velasquez Takes First in 5th Annual Golden Rock Regatta

At a ceremony at Fort Oranje, St. Eustatius, Sir Robert (Bobby) Velasquez, representing the St. Maarten Yacht Club, received the Governor’s Trophy presented by Statia Governor Hyden Gittens. The trophy is awarded to the boat with the best overall performance in all five races of the Golden Rock Regatta series.

Governor Gittens welcomed the more than 150 sailors and regatta officials at historic Fort Oranje. After the trophy presentation, the governor honored Juul Hermsen, the founder of the regatta, for his efforts in successfully organizing the event and promoting the interests of St. Eustatius.

This was Velasquez’ first appearance in the regatta and, in accepting the trophy, he praised the event and promised more St. Maarten support along with his participation in coming years. Velasquez was also the winner of his class in the 2009Heineken Regatta held last March.

Sir Robert, racing his Beneteau 45 F5, L’esperance, overcame a lead established by Jan Vanden Eynde who won the first race (Great Bay to Road Bay) in his Open 750 Panic Attack. Vanden Eynde, however, was forced from the competition by the failure of his starboard rudder.

The annual event began with fresh breezes on Friday the 13th of November for the 30 mile run from Great Bay, St. Maarten to Road Bay on Anguilla. Jan Vanden Eynde was not only first across the line, but also first on the beach at Johnno’s. Everyone finished in plenty of time for the barbeque.

The wind faded as the days wore on and caused some changes in course length. The second race, Road Bay to Grand Case, finished well but the start of the Sunday race to Oranjestad, St. Eustatius was moved from Grand Case to Great Bay. By this time, the forecasted doldrums arrived causing several racers to turn on Iron Mike to insure reaching Oranjestad before dark. The first across in corrected time was again Bobby Velasquez.

The Golden Rock Regatta fleet arrives at Statia every year on the 15th of November, the day before Statia Day, which marks November 16, 1776, the day when Holland became the first country to recognize the United States as a sovereign nation by returning the 13 gun salute from the U.S. brigantine of war, Andrew Doria. Andrew Doria was on a mission to purchase and carry back ammunition and supplies to the colonies and the Continental Army under General George Washington.

The morning of the 16th witnessed a reenactment of the First Salute when the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo, a half mile off shore, fired 13 shots from her deck gun.

That morning the winds were perfect and the first of two closed-course races in Fort Oranje Roads came off well. Bobby Velasquez won and continued his dominance over the regatta. When the afternoon winds died completely, the second race was cancelled and Sir Robert received the Budget Marine Trophy. There was a close race for second place as Doug Moy’s Team Manhattan on a Harmony 52 beat Dirk Köhn’s German team aboard a Dufour 40 by only 11 seconds in corrected time.

That evening, the trophy presentation was followed by a dinner party at Blue Bead, a restaurant named after the Dutch beads used as currency with the Carib and Taino Indians during the early colonial days.

The Presidente Cup is an informal race from Statia back to Oyster Pond. Though the morning breeze failed, the first boat in was Henk Ligtharts Dutch team aboard Funfactor 8, a Moorings 51.5. The last night was highlighted by a lobster buffet and live music at Captain Oliver’s.

This 5th running of the Golden Rock Regatta saw some firsts. For the first time there were teams from Germany, St. Kitts and Belgium. The U.S. entrant, Team Manhattan aboard the Harmony 52 Vivaldi, won the Bareboat 1 class while a German team aboard Lady Marlene, a Dufour 40 and skippered by Dirk Köhn, won the Bareboat 2 class.

Plans for the 2010 Golden Rock Regatta are under way and information can be obtained by contacting Joe Russell – joe@goldenrockregatta.com.

Reported submitted by the Golden Rock Regatta

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