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IC24 Column: The IC24 Gets Tested By Some of Today’s Great Sailors

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The IC24 is a Caribbean innovation, born by the ideas of St. Thomas’ Chris Rosenberg and brought to life by fellow islander Morgan Avery. The design had the stellar opportunity to be showcased to some of the best sailors in the world at the TAG-Heuer Nation’s Cup Regional Final held in Charlotte Amalie’s harbor, St. Thomas, in June. What did these superb sailors think of the design?

“It’s a better version of a J/24,” said Brian Angel, who hails from San Diego, California, and skippers the ISAF-ranked 40 th place match race team. “I saw it first a few years ago when I sailed in the Rolex Regatta and BVI Spring Regatta. I didn’t get to sail one then, but from my experience this week I think it has a neat layout. I liked the open cockpit. It was better and more comfortable.”

It was back in 1999 when Rosenberg and Avery pondered how to jump-start sailboat racing and instruction following the decimation of the local sailing fleet after successive hurricanes at the St. Thomas Yacht Club. “We desperately needed a boat for club racing that was economical, fast, dependable, highly competitive and comfortable,” explained Rosenberg.

Avery added, “The whole idea was to create a more comfortable cockpit.” To do this, he takes a used J/24 hull and fits it with a new Melges 24-style deck mold that is wider, has no traveler, and is capable of carrying five sailors. There is an inside track for a genoa, but no bow pulpit and the transom is closed. The stanchions are lower and covered.

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Sally Barkow, Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year in 2005 and ISAF-ranked 3 rd place woman match racer in the world, echoed Angels’ sentiments after driving an IC-24. “It’s a nice boat to match race. Its got more space in the cockpit to really move around.”

Having come from sailing Etchells and Solings to top three results in North American and World competitions and having placed second at the Canadian J/24 Championships, Canada’s Erik Koppernaes found the IC-24 to be the “greatest boat. It takes all the shortcomings of a J/24 and makes changes for the better. It has a roomy, comfortable cockpit that’s easy to move around. The design sails well, too.”

Trinidad’s Justin Castagne, who led his Old Dominion college sailing team to several national victories and who is now the head coach for the Hampton University sailing team, also liked the IC-24 design. “It’s a big improvement over a J/24. The big open cockpit lets the crew move around and not get in everybody’s way.”

“The IC-24 is a sweet boat. The cockpit is user friendly,” adds St. Lucia’s Mike Green, who has mounted two Olympic campaigns representing Barbados in the Star Class in 1988 and St. Lucia in the Laser Class in 1996, and done a fair share of match racing on the international circuit.

Richard Wooldridge , who converts standard rigs to IC-24s in Tortola’s Racing in Paradise Program, says, “We’ve heard people don’t like the idea of them, that they fly in the face of standard J/24s. But, no one who has actually sailed them doesn’t like the boat.”

The overwhelmingly positive response may be one reason why the IC-24 fleet has grown over the last four years to over twenty vessels and conversions now actively take place on St. Thomas, Tortola and Puerto Rico. There are also IC24s in Texas; Annapolis, Maryland; and now Newport, Rhode Island. The Cayman Islands may be the next place where IC-24s will be embraced as a class.

“We’re use to sailing J/22s and have a good time at it,” says Pete Cunningham, who represented the Cayman Island Sailing Club at the TAG-Heuer Nation’s Cup and liked the feel and handling of the IC-24. “It’s a nice open boat. There’s no problem with a traveler in the middle of the cockpit.”

Cunningham added, “We have three J/24s and are looking at converting them. I think it could be a lot of fun adding them to our race program.”

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

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