Fifteen years ago the one-design IC24 class launched for the first time at the International Rolex Regatta, now the St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR).
The class was born out of the vision of St. Thomas sailor Chris Rosenberg, and St. Thomas boat-builder Morgan Avery to provide an economical platform for one-design racing in the Caribbean in the wake of fleet-decimating hurricanes. Fast forward, the IC24 remains one of the largest one-design classes that annually participates in northern Caribbean regattas.
In addition, interest in the class has spread to the U.S. mainland, first Texas and now New York. The potential of this Caribbean-born class going forward is truly exciting.
“There are faster boats, but none that really tests you as much as the IC24,” says BVI class rep Colin Rathbun. “It’s the most competitive class around. Plus, one-design is just better competition.
Current Class Interest
It’s this perennial appeal that continues to fuel the class. Currently in the Caribbean there are 13 IC24s in the USVI, 12 in Puerto Rico and 11 in the BVI for a total of 36. Puerto Rico’s fleet is now the most active.
“The IC24 class in Puerto Rico is at its strongest point ever,” says class rep Jaime Torres. “Two new boats have been commissioned, we have a record number of boats at regattas and racers from the USVI and BVI are regularly coming to compete at our events, either in their own boats or chartering from several boats that are available for rent here.”
Mike Finley, the USVI class rep, sees the class catching on in other islands.
“The boys from St. Croix (Jens Hookanson and his St. Croix Yacht Club team) did very well at STIR and won the class at the BVI Spring Regatta. They are now looking for an IC24,” says Finley.
Puerto Rico’s Torres sees the Southern Caribbean as a potential destination for the class to grow.
“There are lots of old J24s down there just begging to be cut up and converted into more comfortable and better performing boats,” he says.
Beyond the Caribbean, there is a six-boat club owned fleet at Rush Creek Yacht Club (RCYC), in Rockwall, Texas. These boats race in two major one-design regattas annually, other PHRF-handicap events and Wednesday night ‘beer can’ races.
“The RCYC has a rental program known as ‘The 600 Club’ that allows members unlimited use of the boats for a fee of $600 per year or $50 per month,” says Kathy Irwin, RCYC member who, with her husband, formerly owned the IC24 Grey Ghost in the BVI. “Extra fees charged for use of the racing sails has allowed the basic costs to be covered by the members using the boats.”
The mold used to make the IC24s in Texas has recently been moved to New York, specifically the State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College, in the Bronx.
“Having managed J24s in Maritime’s keelboat fleet for years, I have heard many positive things about IC24s,” says SUNY Maritime waterfront director Rob Crafa. “It was not until two industry leaders, Kim Hapgood from Sail Newport (Newport, RI) and Dawn Riley at Oakcliff Sailing Center (Oyster Bay, NY), both separately mentioned that if I could get the mold for the IC24 that might be a great fit for Maritime. I followed up and within a few short months I was working with Chris Rosenberg to arrange delivery of the mold. With the tremendous support of Trevor Baroni from Ocean Innovations, we started building our first boat last summer and are currently completing our second. Our short term goal is to have a six boat IC24 fleet. If the enthusiasm continues and our collegiate and community programs continue to grow as they have, I could easily see that number doubling.
On the Horizon
Looking ahead, the USVI’s Rosenberg says the vision he had for the class at its founding back in 2001 is even more important today.
“The IC24 name stands for Inter Club 24,” says Rosenberg, who is the IC24 class president. “The original concept was to eliminate the high cost of the boat and also the expensive logistics of towing it to different venues. By each yacht club having its own fleet of IC24s, clubs could invite other teams to come race in their boats. This would facilitate college-style events (where sailors rotate among boats) with a high level of competition at the minimal cost of accommodations and airfare. My hope is that the concept of a club-owned fleet will explode. I think the IC24 is the perfect boat for this. After all, you can buy a fleet of 10 IC-24s for the cost of one used Farr 40.”
For more information, visit: www.facebook.com/BrisaSailing