Typically, a reference to "battle of the Melges" conjures up images of a sail-off among like one-design boats, but tomorrow at the International Rolex Regatta, it will mean that Chris Stanton’s (Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI) Melges 24 Devil 3 will have to fend off a Melges that is eight feet longer to win. Going into today, Dave West’s (Road Town, Tortola, BVI) Melges 32 Jurakan was leading in the CSA-handicapped Spinnaker Racing 2 Class but tied with Devil 3 on points. When Devil 3 added finish positions of 1-2 to its score line today, it not only broke the stalemate with Jurakan, which posted a 4-1, but also established a two-point margin on the leader board.
"They (Jurakan) are a much faster boat," said Stanton, thinking about tomorrow. "Bigger sails, more people, and they give us about seven minutes every hour, and today we had a two-hour race, so it’s not like it will be a boat-for-boat race. They’ll round the first mark, then we’ll take a stopwatch and time ourselves around the same mark."
Some teams farther down in the standings had talked about yesterday’s perfect conditions for the planing sport boats in Stanton’s class (among them two more Melges 24s and an Olson 30, currently in third), but Stanton was quick to point out that the fair balance is that making the high-performance boats go fast means "you have to work really, really, really hard."
"We have a guy onboard who normally sails on a bigger boat, and he’s really getting an appreciation for the fact that it’s a lot of work. On some boats you don’t have to hike in lighter wind, but with these boats you have to. Upwind it’s a tactical battle and downwind it’s always a tactical battle with the asymmetrical chutes. Yesterday, it was more sport-boat conditions, but today we were just like the others. We weren’t planing in the 12-15 knots this morning, or the lighter 10-12 knots this afternoon."
The course for Stanton’s second race today took him to the southern coast of St. Thomas’s neighboring island of St. John where his team enjoyed long reaches that required lots of navigational decisions, local knowledge and consideration of current. It was likewise for the IRC class, where Richard Oland’s (Rothesay, NB, CAN) Vela Veloce is now tied on points with Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s (New York, N.Y.) Interlodge for the lead.
"It was beautiful and let us see some country we would not have gone to see," said Oland. As for tomorrow, Oland’s situation is indeed more boat-for-boat than Stanton’s, since Vela Veloce and Interlodge are the same size. "The question is how well will each of the teams sail," he said, adding that he thinks his team is primed for rising again to the occasion, continuing its good starts and tight teamwork.
The IC 24s, which had snuck in an extra buoy race yesterday after the rest of the fleet headed home from the races to Charlotte Amalie and back, managed eight races today. Leading the 15-boat fleet is Puerto Rico’s Fraito Lugo aboard Orion, but with as many races likely for tomorrow, it’s anyone’s guess whether Lugo can hold out against the great depth of talent in this class.
Elizabeth Brookes’ Farr 65 Spirit of Isis (Antigua) leads CSA Spinnaker Racing 1, while Antonio Sanpere’s (Christiansted, VI) J/36 Cayennita Grande has maintained his lead from yesterday in the CSA Non-Spinnaker Racing Class. John Holmberg’s (St. Thomas) Hobie 16 Time Out now leads the Beach Cats while James Dobbs’ (Antigua) J/122 Lost Horizon is leading Spinnaker Racing/Cruising Class.
Before racing this morning, a moment of silence was observed in honor of well-known island sailor and long-time International Rolex Regatta competitor Guy Eldridge (Road Town, Tortola, BVI), who died yesterday after racing. He had skippered Luxury Girl to fourth in Spinnaker Racing/Cruising Class.
They may be at the back of the pack in the Non-Spinnaker Racing Class, but MuMu Sunset and Winds of Glory are still standouts at the International Rolex Regatta.
MuMu Sunset, a Freedom 40 with its cat ketch rig, two freestanding masts and distinctive hull design featuring a "pirate ship" style cabin at the stern, simply looks like no other race boat here. Its skipper Jean Braure, a Frenchman who has been living in the islands over 50 years, is quite unique as well. The 75-year-old, who sailed for the USVI three times in the Olympics (’84, ’88, ’92) in Soling and Tornado classes, is also an accomplished mountaineer and still skippers MuMu Sunset as a charter boat in the Islands. If that’s not enough, his book, The Sailor Who Climbs Mountains, hits the book stores this month. "I have sailed the regatta 15 times on other people’s boats, and even won it twice as skipper, so when I didn’t have another ride this year, I decided to finally enter my own boat."
With three races under his belt, Braure is sitting in eighth out of eight boats, but takes it all in stride as one more adventure. "Unfortunately we suffer from our rating, and the boat doesn’t go well to windward – it is more perfect for chartering," said Braure. "Our was a beautiful race around Buck Island today. It was the perfect day for racing and sailing in the Virgin Islands."
In the seventh position above MuMu Sunset and feeling proud about it is the team aboard the Cal 30 Winds of Glory, comprised of students from the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School here in St. Thomas. They are lead by teacher Stan Lorbach, who teaches a course at the school on how to build boats and sail, the only one of its kind offered at any public school in the USVIs. "We really want to build the program and get it going across the territory," said Lorbach, noting that it might have been fortuitous that the engine aboard Winds of Glory ceased earlier this season; it allowed Lorbach to introduce engine repair to the curriculum. And though the admitted goal of the team is to survive the Rolex Regatta, they are happy not to be last. "It’s a learning situation and it’s fun," said Kean senior Jeremy Ronan. "Not everyone gets to do this kind of stuff, so we feel blessed."
A.H. Riise, Official Retailer of Rolex watches in the U.S. Virgin Islands, takes an active role in sponsorship of the event. The St. Thomas shop is one of the largest in the Caribbean and is located on the historic waterfront of downtown Charlotte Amalie. Island Global Yachting and USVI Tourism are also sponsors of the event. Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Hotel, Mount Gay Rum and Heineken are supporters.
Racing continues through Sunday. Online video highlights by T2Productions can be viewed each night by 9 p.m. at www.t2p.tv. Live results, photos and reports are available at rolexcupregatta.com, with updates also available on mobile phones at www.yachtscoring.com/mobile.
Place, Boat Name, Boat Type, Length, Skipper, Hometown, Finish Postions, Total Points
IC 24 (One Design – 14 Boats)
1. Orion, IC 24 24, Fraito Lugo, Ponce, PR, USA – 2, 3, 2, 1, 4, 4, 5, 1, 9, 7, 1, ; 39
2. LIME, IC 24 24, Colin Rathbun, Road Town, Tortola, BVI – 10, 6, 1, 5, 8, 2, 6, 5, 1, 1, 3, ; 48
3. Brand-New Secondhand, IC 24 24, Christopher Curreri, St Thomas, VI, USA – 6, 2, 4, 3, 9, 7, 4, 8, 2, 4, 8, ; 57
Spinnaker Racing 1 (CSA – 2 Boats)
1. Spirit of Isis, Farr 65 65, Elizabeth Brookes, Falmouth Harbour, Antigua, WI – 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 4
2. Kialoa V, Frers 80 78, Freddie Mills, Lake Placid, NY, USA – 3/DNF, 2, 2, 2, ; 9
Spinnaker Racing 2 (CSA – 11 Boats)
1. Devil 3, Melges 24 24, Chris Stanton, Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI – 1, 2, 1, 2, ; 6
2. Jurakan, Melges 32 32, Dave West, Road Town, Tortola, BVI – 2, 1, 4, 1, ; 8
3. Rushin Rowlette, Olson 30, Kevin Rowlette, Tortola, UK – 7, 4, 3, 4, ; 18
Non-Spinnaker Racing (CSA – 9 Boats)
1. Cayennita Grande, J 36 36′, Antonio Sanpere, Christiansted, VI, USA – 1, 1, 1, ; 3
2. SAGA I, Frers F3 36′, Gerd Petersen, Pembroke Pines, FL, USA – 2, 2, 2, ; 6
3. Bermuda High, Hanse 400 39′ 7, Martinus van Breems, Norwalk, CT, USA – 4, 3, 6, ; 13
Spinnaker Racing/Cruising (CSA – 17 Boats)
1. Lost Horizon, J 122 12.21, James Dobbs, Antigua – 2, 1, 1, 1, ; 5
2. Three Harkoms, Beneteau 442 Oceanic 44.5, James Hudleston, Yarmouth, Great Britain, England – 1, 2, 3, 4, ; 10
3. El Ocaso, J 120 40, Rick Wesslund, Miami, FL, USA – 3, 4, 4, 2, ; 13
IRC (IRC – 8 Boats)
1. Interlodge, JV 52 52, Austin and Gwen Fragomen, Newport, RI, USA – 1, 2, 1, 4, ; 8
2. Vela Veloce, Southern Cross 52 52′, Richard Oland, Rothesay, NB, CAN – 3, 1, 2, 2, ; 8
3. Equation, Andrews 68 68, Bill Alcott, St. Clair Shores, MI, USA – 6, 4, 4, 1, ; 15
Beach Cats (Portsmouth – 5 Boats)
1. Time Out, Hobie 16 16, John Holmberg, St. Thomas, VI, USA – 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, ; 7
2. Auto Manic, Hobie 16 16′, Chris Schreiber, Christiansted, VI, USA – 1, 1, 3, 2, 2, ; 9
3. Puma, Prindle 19 19′, Jason Siska, St. John, VI, USA – 6/DNS, 6/DNS, 2, 3, 3, ; 20