The 2009 International Rolex Regatta at the St. Thomas Yacht Club, with racing starting on Friday, March 27, will see the return of cheap and plentiful rum this year—Mt. Gay is back as a sponsor. A.H. Riise, Official Retailer of Rolex watches in the U.S. Virgin Islands, is, as always, an active sponsor.
The event, one of the Caribbean’s major regattas, offers a nod to this year’s international economic woes by offering competitors free dockage at two island marinas through a partnership with Island Global Yachting, American Yacht Harbor ( www.igy-americanyachtharbor.com) and Yacht Haven Grande (www.yachthavengrande.com). Both marinas are offering free dockage and space for containers on a first-come, first-serve basis.
From either marina, allow 20 minutes in motoring time for the boat to get to the racing areas; both are a short cab ride to the St. Thomas Yacht club when it’s party time. Interested sailors need to register and make a request to regatta directors fast—availability is limited. Event Co-Director John Sweeney points out that there are also plenty of moorings near the club and an anchorage at nearby Christmas Cove with free launch service, once the marina slots are filled.
Sweeney said in late January that early registrations were healthy.
“Our visiting list of entries (US & Europe) is looking very good – assuming that the Caribbean boats return, we expect to see numbers similar to 2008.”
Fitting the International Rolex Regatta into busy schedules are Roger Sturgeon’s (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Hyannis, Mass.) STP65 Rosebud and Jim Mitchell’s (Zurich, SUI) R/P 52 Vincitore, while returning to defend his 2008 title is Sam Fleet’s Team Aquarius (East Greenwich, R.I.)
Fleet won the inaugural IRC 1 class with his Swan 601. For the victory, he was awarded lodging at the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef hotel for the 2009 event.
“We will definitely be returning; however it may be in a different boat,” said Fleet. “Continuing to build on the success of the Aquarius program, we want to charter a grand prix boat for the 2009 Florida and Caribbean season and race in IRC and CSA regattas throughout the region. The winter season will serve as an excellent training ground for the 2010 Audi MedCup.”
Fleet added that the International Rolex Regatta is “the best run regatta and the most professional race committee in the Caribbean.”
Another attraction for 2009 competitors is that entry fees have been lowered by 25%, which means a $100 discount for boats sailing IRC, CSA and One-Design, and $50 off for beach cats.
The International Rolex Regatta is followed by the BVI Spring Regatta and Sailing Festival in the nearby British Virgin Islands, which links the two events to make Virgin Islands Race Week (VIRW), now in its second year.
Preview information submitted by the St. Thomas Yacht Club