Eighteen Swans representing nearly ten countries and territories took flight in the first Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean, held out of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda’s (YCCS) new clubhouse in the British Virgin Islands, March 11 – 15.
“The event was organized by Rolex, Nautor’s Swan and YCCS, who have established close ties through organizing the Rolex Swan Cup in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, since the early 1980s,” explains Jill Campbell, YCCS press officer. “The event was open to all Nautor’s Swan Yachts. We had 21 boats enrolled, although three didn’t race and instead decided to watch the racing and enjoy the social events. This is a good turnout for an inaugural event and is what we expected.”
Swans were divided into Maxi, IRC-rated and Cruising classes. Light winds prevailed over the four days of racing. This made the tactician’s job harder and competition keener. The entire fleet sailed one race per day on courses set around islands, cays and rocks between Virgin Gorda and Anegada, which included Sir Richard Branson’s private Necker Island.
In the end, it was the USA’s James Madden’s Swan 601, Stark Raving Mad, which won the Maxis. The victory over the Cayman Islands’ Wendy Schmidt’s Swan 80, Selene, was super sweet for two reasons. First, Madden had had to settle for second place in last year’s Rolex Swan Cup in Porto Cervo, when a broken spinnaker in the last race dashed his hopes for a win. Secondly, it came down to Madden driving to a first on the last race on the last day to give his team the victory in what ultimately was a tie breaker between Stark Raving Mad and Selene, which both finished with six points apiece. The USA’s Philip Lotz’s Swan 42, Arethusa, beat the UK’s James Blakemore’s Swan 53, Music, in the IRC class. Both Madden and Lotz received Rolex timepieces and the opportunity to keep their Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean trophies for a year.
Finland’s Matti Rajala won the Cruising class aboard the Swan 46, Eclipse.
The Swan crews that didn’t take top prizes did win in another way. That is, the opportunity to enjoy more great Caribbean racing.
Peter Hautzagers, who chartered a Swan 45 and named it Island Water World, explains, “I use to live in St. Maarten, but have called Holland home for the past 18 years. I’ve raced IC24s, Melges 24s and this year decided to charter a Swan. The Rolex Swan Cup allowed us to do three competitive regattas – the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean and International Rolex Regatta – in the space of three weeks. I love sailing, but I don’t like to take too much time. I have six children at home.”
Hautzagers added, “The hospitality and organization of the Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean was outstanding. There was a nice mix of long and short courses, which we enjoyed.”
The same theme held true for Northern Child, a race-charter Swan 51 owned by the UK’s Christian and Lucy Reynolds. “We came over on the ARC, and do the RORC Caribbean 600, St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, International Rolex Regatta, BVI Spring Regatta and Antigua Sailing Week, before returning to the UK for the Fastnet and Cowes,” Reynolds says. “The Swan Cup made a nice addition to our Caribbean calendar.”
The Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean will be held biennially on alternate years to the Mediterranean regatta. The Rolex Swan Cup in Porto Cervo will take place in September 2014. For full results, visit: www.yccsresults.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.