Ran and Shockwave Copyright 2012 Tim Wilkes

Ran and Shockwave Copyright 2012 Tim Wilkes

 

With three races conducted in strong winds, there was opportunity for boats to make a significant move in the standings on the second day of Quantum Key West 2012. Or in some cases it was a chance to further increase leads taken on Day 1. Pisces fit into the former category, moving into the overall lead in Melges 32 class by winning two of three races on Tuesday. Skipper Benjamin Schwartz and company showed superb boat speed and made some sound tactical decisions and now lead the 19-boat fleet by tiebreaker over John Kilroy and the Samba Pa Ti team. “We are a new program so it is a tremendous feeling to be doing well in a big-time regatta like Key West. Hopefully, we can keep it going,” said Schwartz, who joined the class last summer and promptly placed fourth at U.S. Nationals. Schwartz has America’s Cup veteran Ed Baird calling tactics and Quantum professional Scott Nixon trimming the jib and spinnaker. “You have to give Ed and Scott a lot of credit for getting our boat up to speed,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have a great crew. Today was very challenging because the wind velocity was up and down and the sea state was not very forgiving, but the guys never stopped working and we were able to change gears pretty well.” Race committees on all three courses completed three races in 8-14 knot easterly winds.

With five races in the bag, organizers with Premiere Racing are already halfway to the stated goal of holding 10 races during the five-day regatta. There was a lead change in the Farr 40 class as well with Charisma (Nico Poons, Monaco) and Struntje Light (Wolfgang Schaefer, Germany) overtaking Groovederci (John Demourkas, Santa Barbara, Cal.). Struntje Light has posted a pair of seconds and finished no lower than fourth in the seven-boat fleet, but Charisma holds the overall lead via tiebreaker by virtue of winning Race 5. “We had a very good day on the water and are happy with where we stand at the moment,” Schaefer said. “We have nice boat speed upwind and our crew work has been excellent. We have a very good tactician and he’s made some fantastic calls that have kept me in phase.” Renowned Italian professional and America’s Cup veteran Vasco Vascotta is calling tactics aboard Struntje Light, which has competed in Farr 40 class at Key West ever since 2002 with a top finish of third. “Wolfgang is doing a good job of driving and is getting better every day. The guys onboard have a great attitude and are ready to fight to the end. The good news is that we can still improve our performance.” PowerPlay lived up to its name by making a strong move in IRC 2 class with a strong line of 1-3-4 on Tuesday. Owner Peter Cunningham, a resident of Georgetown in the Cayman Islands, has a nice mix of amateur and professional crew with tactician Tony Rey, trimmer Dave Scott and bowman Geordie Shaver among the superstars aboard. “We’ve only had the boat for six months and we’ve made a lot of modifications during that time,” Cunningham said. “We’re pretty happy with our performance so far. We’re sailing fairly well and having a lot of fun.” Quantum Racing, skippered by Doug DeVos, continues to set the pace in the 52-foot class and leads PowerPlay by six points. Terry Hutchinson, helmsman for the Swedish syndicate Artemis Racing that is Challenge of Record for the America’s Cup, has made strong tactical calls in leading Quantum to victory in three races and second in the two others. “Today was far from straightforward. The wind was very shifty and there are some tricky current patches to deal with,” Hutchinson said. In other classes, the three-race day merely served as an opportunity for the early leaders to extend on the competition.

Red  (Copyright 2012 Ingrid Abery)

Red (Copyright 2012 Ingrid Abery)

Ran, a Judel-Vrolijk 72-footer, continues to sail impressively in the Mini Maxi class (IRC 1), winning all five races so far. Red, skippered by Joe Woods of Great Britain with Paul Goodison aboard as tactician, has accomplished the same feat in the inaugural Farr 400 class. “I guess we’ve just figured the boat out a little faster than the other teams,” said Woods, who has previously sailed a Melges 32 at Key West. “We’re winning, but not by much. The racing has been awfully close.” West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes has posted straight bullets in Melges 24 class and built a commanding 10-point lead over Alan Field and the WTF team. Detroit resident Bora Gulari is steering and getting tactical advice from Australian native and North Sails pro Jeremy Wilmot as West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes seeks to follow up on its 2011 national championship. Groovederci, skippered by Deneen Demourkas of Santa Barbara, Cal., has won all five races in Farr 30 class. Teamwork, a J/122 owned by Robin Team of Lexington, N.C., has posted two bullets and a pair of seconds in grabbing a narrow one-point lead over the 1D35 Tres Hombres in PHRF 1. “We’re having a great time because the conditions have been terrific and the competition has been spectacular,” said Team, who has his brother and two sons in the crew. “We’ve been mixing it up with Tres Hombres and finished overlapped with them in the first two races today. Rush is also tough so I think it will be a dogfight the whole way.” Rush, a J/109 skippered by Bill Sweetser of Annapolis, was named Lewmar / Navtec Boat of the Day after posting a superb score line of 3-2-1. Tom Babel is calling tactics while Quantum pro Tad Hutchins is calling tactics on Rush, which is currently third in PHRF 1 and second in the J/Boats Subclass. “The conditions were very good for us today. When the wind is 14 knots or less we can fly our big jib, which is kind of like our secret weapon,” Sweetser said. “We pay for that jib in our rating so it’s good whenever we can use it.” It’s been close but no cigar for Rush at Key West as Sweetser’s boat has finished first or second in class several times, but never come away as overall winner at week’s end. “One of these years we’re going to finally break through and it’s going to be wonderful,” he said. Regatta dates are January 15 – 20, 2012.

Melges 32 Copyright 2012 Tim Wilkes

Melges 32 Copyright 2012 Tim Wilkes

 

For more Key West Race Week photos by  Tim Wilkes check out Tim Wilkes Photography

GENUINE RISK, Sail No: USA 8390, Owner: Hugo Stenbeck, Home Port: Kings Point, NY, USA, Design: Canting Keel Maxi, Division: IRC 1 (Photo by Rolex / St. Thomas Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery )

GENUINE RISK, Sail No: USA 8390, Owner: Hugo Stenbeck, Home Port: Kings Point, NY, USA, Design: Canting Keel Maxi, Division: IRC 1 (Photo by Rolex / St. Thomas Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery )

    

Topping off three days of sun-drenched racing in the International Rolex Regatta, over 700 sailors on 77 teams mixed it up today on Pillsbury Sound, completing distance courses that explored the cays and islands off St. Thomas, where the event has been hosted for 38 years by St. Thomas Yacht Club. Big guns, such as Boewe Bekking, Gavin Brady, Ed Baird, Steve Benjamin, Richard Clarke and Chris Larson were in abundance aboard the keelboats that competed, but it by no means took the calling cards of professional sailors to guarantee victory—or a good time—in the eight classes, which included two for IRC, four for CSA, and one each for IC 24s and Beach Cats.

“This has been one of the best groups of boats and sailors we’ve ever had,” said Regatta Director Bill Canfield. “Sailors came from around the globe, and each class had a good number of boats with impressive depth of competition.” Canfield explained that the largest keelboat competing was the 90-foot Genuine Risk, the recent Pineapple Cup Montego Bay Race winner, with Hugo Stenbeck (SWE) steering, while the smallest were 24-footers. (Melges 24s sailed in a CSA Spinnaker class that was populated by sport boats, while IC 24s came in numbers large enough to earn their own One-Design circle.) Ages ranged from in the single digits to mid 70s, and included newcomers, returning veterans and everything in between.

With today’s two victories to add to an already perfect score line, Willem Wester’s (SUI) Grand Soleil 43 Antilope made an impressive showing in the nine-boat IRC 2 class, earning Wester a Rolex timepiece as prize. (Timepieces were also awarded to IRC 1 class, the top performer among CSA Spinnaker classes and IC 24 one-design class.)

“This was our first time to this part of the world,” said Wester, who has won Cowes Week the last two years aboard Antilope and sailed with a crew from Belgium and Holland that included veteran Volvo Ocean Race skipper Bouwe Bekking, who called tactics, and Olympian Philippe Bergmans, who steered. “The whole atmosphere here was fantastic, with the Race Committee setting some wonderful courses; Bekking is a bit of a slave driver (laughs), but a nice one, and he raised the level of the team.” 

Bekking gave credit to good starts, letting the crew do its work and keeping a cool head during the challenge of negotiating Friday’s “town races” to and from Charlotte Amalie; Saturday’s distance races skirting the south coast of St. John island; and today’s exceptionally intriguing “Pillsbury” courses set between St. Thomas and St. John. “I’d say by far, it is the best of the events I’ve sailed in the last couple of years,” said Bekking.

Antilope’s closest competitor, Phil Lotz’s (Newport, R.I.) Club Swan 42 Arethusa, fell to third today with two fourth-place finishes, while James Hudleston’s (St. Petersburg, Fla.) Oceanis 44 Three Harkoms snagged second, just one point ahead, on merit of a 3-2 today.

Prizegiving at the St. Thomas Yacht Club, and the winners are Left to right: Mark Plaxton, Ben Beer, William Bailey, Jeff Price, Willem Wester and Lionel Schürch, Rolex Geneva (Photo by Rolex / St. Thomas Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery)

Prizegiving at the St. Thomas Yacht Club, and the winners are Left to right: Mark Plaxton, Ben Beer, William Bailey, Jeff Price, Willem Wester and Lionel Schürch, Rolex Geneva (Photo by Rolex / St. Thomas Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery)

For Ed Baird (St. Petersburg, Fla.), being a seasoned professional didn’t take anything away from his experience here.  The winning skipper from the 2007 America’s Cup (Alinghi) crewed aboard Richard Oland’s (New Brunswick, CAN) Southern Cross Vela Veloce while Canadian Olympian Richard Clarke steered. The team finished second in IRC 1 class, conceding to Jim Swartz’s (Park City, Utah) TP52 Vesper/Team Moneypenny, which won all but one of six races.

 “It’s the first time either Richard (Clarke) or I have raced here,” said Baird. “We’ve both sailed all over the world but never with so many islands and rocks in close proximity; it was challenging, not knowing what the wind would be doing around the next corner. “

Baird described the top-three boats in his class, all 52 footers, as “locked in battle” the whole regatta. “Vesper (with New Zealand’s America’s Cup veteran Gavin Brady replacing Jim Swartz on the helm today) had a speed advantage, especially upwind, so they could usually sneak out to a strong position and stay ahead, but we went back and fourth with Interlodge (Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s entry from Newport, R.I.)”

Vesper and Interlodge have both sailed this event before,” said Brady, “so when we’d gain a little near the shore, they’d come back at us, maybe using some local knowledge they had. We figured that by the end of the regatta, we’d be really ready for next year!”

Though their expectations in CSA Spinnaker 3 class were modest in the beginning,Timothy Molony’s (New Orleans, La.) Southern Yacht Club team aboard Wild at Heart proved unbeatable in the end. Only on day one were they not at the top of the scoreboard, but today was to still be a test with only two points separating them and Kike Gonzalez’s (San Juan, PR) J/80 Otrakosa, which wound up second overall. 

“We won both of today’s races by exactly two minutes and 25 seconds, which is pretty remarkable,” said Molony, who counts this as his first time to race in the islands. “We ended up with one second and five firsts, while Otrakosa had one first and five seconds.” (Paul Davis’s St. Thomas entry Mag 7 took third overall.)

“We’ve all sailed together since we were kids, so it’s like a family quarrel when we call tactics,” joked Molony, who chartered Wild at Heart from a company in Germany “that took care of everything and perfectly prepared the boat.” 

It was a young William Bailey (St. Thomas), skippering Team INTAC JV, who won the Rolex timepiece in the 16-boat IC 24 class. The high school senior, age 18, endured 17 around-the-buoys races that were reserved especially for this hotly contested one-design class and counted among his crew 2010 College Sailor of the Year (from Yale) Thomas Barrows, a fellow St. Thomian. 

Before racing the last six races today, Bailey knew he had to stay in the top three as much as he could. A bad start in the first race buried him, but he calmly scratched back to win handily, then continued with a string of finishes that were fourth or better.

“It still hasn’t hit me yet,” said Bailey, who was duly impressed when he was told he’d be awarded the newest model of the Rolex Explorer, which accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary on his famous ascent of Mt. Everest in 1953.

Second-place finisher, a full 24 points behind, was Fraito Lugo’s (Ponce, PR) Orion, followed by Chris Cuerreri’s (St. Thomas) Soggy Dollar BVI in third.

Team Intac TEAM INTAC, Sail No: IVB 39, Owner: William Bailey, Home Port: St. Thomas, VI, USA, Design: IC 24, Division: One Design (Photo by Rolex / St. Thomas Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery)

Team Intac TEAM INTAC, Sail No: IVB 39, Owner: William Bailey, Home Port: St. Thomas, VI, USA, Design: IC 24, Division: One Design (Photo by Rolex / St. Thomas Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery)

From day one, Mark Plaxton’s (Tortola, BVI) Melges 32 Team INTAC/CROWLEY established his lead in the six-boat CSA Spinnaker 1 class. After posting two victories today, he showed nothing higher than a second-place finish in his six-race score line, which also kept Andrea Scarabelli’s (St. Maarten, AHO) Melges 24 Budget Marine and David West’s (Tortola, BVI) Melges 32 Jurakan in second and third, respectively, for the entire event.

Plaxton was awarded the Rolex watch as the top performer among the CSA spinnaker classes and was philosophical about it. “I was a Junior A hockey player from Canada where I learned ‘stick on ice, head up and pass the puck.’ Basically, that means it’s not about the watch or winning, it’s about peace, love and boat speed and helping out the next generation.” (It is no coincidence that William Bailey’s winning IC 24 team of young sailors shared the same boat name.)

Things sorted out just fine today for Calvin Reed’s (Tampa, Fla.) Beneteau First 40.7 Elandra of Hamble, yesterday’s leader in CSA Spinnaker 2 class. With finish positions of 2-2 they fended off who they considered their #1 competition, Richard Wesslund’s (Miami, Fla.) J/120 El Ocaso, which slipped to third place overall after posting a 5-4 today. Rising from fourth place yesterday to second place, with a 1-3 today, was Jaimie Torres’s (San Juan, PR) Beneteau First 40 Smile and Wave.

In the 10-boat CSA Non-Spinnaker class, James Dobbs’ (Antigua) Lost Horizon turned in a 1-2 today to tie on point score (10) with Tony Sanpere’s (St. Croix, USVI) J/36 Cayennita Grande but win the class after tie-breaking rules were applied.

Lost Horizon was definitely the sleeper of the regatta, arriving with an incomplete crew and adding to it to finish third overall after the first day of racing. On the second day, the team managed to rise through the ranks to second overall behind Cayennita Grande then top them in the finale. Bernardo Gonzalez’s (Dorado, PR) Beneteau First 35s5 Bonne Chance, maintained its third from yesterday.

In Beach Cats, with nine boats competing, Jorge Ramos’s (San Juan, PR) Hobie 16 Universal had only to finish today’s two races to win his class’s five-race series. He not only finished the races but also won them both, just as he had won his two previous races—by huge margins. “We are happy that the fleet was bigger this year,” said Ramos, considered to be one of the top five cat sailors from his country. “There was some attention lost for a few years, but now we are hoping that the class will build again and this regatta will become a primary focus for us.” Giving Ramos a run for his money with a 2-2 today was last year’s winner John Holmberg (St. Thomas), also sailing a Hobie 16, Time Out, with his 12-year-old son Kai. In third was Teri McKenna’s (St. Thomas) Hobie 16 Island Girl.

The International Rolex Regatta, considered the “Crown Jewel” of the traditional spring Caribbean regattas, is the third of the four-part Caribbean Ocean Racing Circuit (CORC), which also includes major regattas in St. Croix, Puerto Rico and Tortola. Sailors are treated to a mix of short-course and long distance races that take place off St. Thomas Yacht Club and along the waterfronts of St. Thomas and St. John. Parties are legendary, including a Saturday evening reggae party at Yacht Haven Grande marina, which adds exotic flair to the activities. 

The International Rolex Regatta has been hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club since 1974, making it the oldest regatta in Rolex’s portfolio of international sailing events. Rolex is known for sponsoring famous offshore and grand-prix events such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rolex Fastnet Race, Giraglia Rolex Cup, Rolex Middle Sea Race, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship.

A.H. Riise, Official Retailer of Rolex watches in the U.S. Virgin Islands, takes an active role in sponsorship of the International Rolex Regatta.  The St. Thomas shop is one of the largest in the Caribbean and is located on the historic waterfront of downtown Charlotte Amalie.

FINAL RESULTS

International Rolex Regatta 2011

Day 3

IC 24 (One Design – 16 Boats)
1. Team INTAC JV, IC 24, William Bailey , St. Thomas, VI, USA – 6, 3, 3, 1, 1, 3, 2, 1, 6, 2, 4, 1, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, ; 51
2. Orion, IC 24, Fraito Lugo , Ponce, PR, USA – 5, 2, 7, 2, 11, 8, 1, 2, 5, 3, 7, 3, 9, 4, 2, 3, 1, ; 75
3. Soggy Dollar BVI, IC 24, Chris Cuerreri , St. Thomas , USVI – 2, 8, 2, 12, 3, 4, 4, 7, 1, 12, 9, 4, 2, 1, 3, 2, 6, ; 82

CSA Spinnaker 1 (CSA – 6 Boats)
1. Team INTAC/CROWLEY, Melges 32, Mark Plaxton , Sea Cows Bay, Tortola, BVI – 1, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, ; 9
2. Budget Marine/GILL , Melges 24, Andrea Scarabelli , Cole Bay, St. Maarten, AHO – 3, 1, 4, 1, 2, 4, ; 15
3. Jurakan, Melges 32, David West , Road Town, Tortola, BVI – 2, 3, 1, 4, 4, 3, ; 17

CSA Spinnaker 2 (CSA – 11 Boats)
1. Elandra of Hamble, Beneteau First 40.7, Calvin Reed , Tampa, FL, USA – 3, 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, ; 12
2. Smile and Wave, Beneteau First 40, Jaime Torres , San Juan, PR, USA – 6, 3, 1, 3, 1, 3, ; 17
3. El Ocaso, J 120, Richard Wesslund , Miami, FL, USA – 4, 1, 3, 2, 5, 4, ; 19

CSA Spinnaker 3 (CSA – 6 Boats)
1. Wild At Heart, JOD 35, Timothy Molony , New Orleans, LA, USA – 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 7
2. Otrakosa, J 80, Kike Gonzalez , San Juan, PR, USA – 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, ; 11
3. Mag 7, J 27, Paul Davis , Charlotte amalie, VI, USA – 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, ; 21

CSA Non-Spinnaker (CSA – 10 Boats)
1. Lost Horizon, J 122, James Dobbs , Falmouth, ANT – 5, 1, 1, 1, 2, ; 10
2. Cayennita Grande, J 36, Antonio Sanpere , Christiansted, VI, USA – 2, 2, 2, 3, 1, ; 10
3. Bonne Chance, Beneteau First 35s5, Bernardo Gonzalez , Dorado, PR, USA – 1, 3, 3, 2, 3, ; 12

IRC 1 (IRC – 6 Boats)
1. Vesper, TP 52, James Swartz , Park City, Utah, USA – 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 7
2. Vela Veloce, Southern Cross 52, Richard Oland , Saint John, NB, CAN – 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, ; 14
3. Interlodge, JV 52, Austin and Gwen Fragomen , Newport, RI, USA – 1, 4, 4, 3, 3, 2, ; 17

IRC 2 (IRC – 9 Boats)
1. Antilope, Grand Soleil 43, Willem Wester , Breskens, Zeeland, NED – 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 6
2. Three Harkoms, Oceanis 44, James Hudleston , St. petersburg, FL, USA – 2, 4, 2, 4, 3, 2, ; 17
3. Arethusa, Club Swan 42, Phil Lotz , Newport, RI, USA – 3, 2, 3, 2, 4, 4, ; 18

Beach Cats (Portsmouth – 9 Boats)
1. Universal, Hobie 16, Jorge L Ramos , San Juan, PR, USA – 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 6
2. Time Out, Hobie 16, John Holmberg , St. Thomas, VI, USA – 3, 2, 3, 2, 2, ; 12
3. Island Girl, Hobie 16, Teri McKenna , St. Thomas, VI, USA – 5, 3, 5, 3, 3, ; 19

 

Fleet (Photo by Rolex / St. Thomas Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery )

Fleet (Photo by Rolex / St. Thomas Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery )

(Photo by Rolex / St. Thomas Yacht Club/Ingrid Abery)

KIALOA V / SPS and PIPE DREAM (Photo by Rolex / St.Thomas Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery)

An excursion to downtown Charlotte Amalie is a high point of any proper vacation in St. Thomas. Duty free shops, a colorful outdoor “Vendor’s Plaza” and a working waterfront, complete with cruise ships, ferries and freight boats, unite locals and tourists and create a harmonious blend of sights and sounds. Today, sailors on 77 teams at the International Rolex Regatta made the obligatory trip downtown not by Safari taxi but by boat–actually, their own race boats. The first of today’s two “town races” went from the eastern end of St. Thomas, where the regatta’s host St. Thomas Yacht Club is located, to Charlotte Amalie Harbour, giving spectators an eyeful as they watched from scenic overlooks and other vantage points along the island’s hilly coastline. After a rainbow of spinnakers graced a downwind finish, the fleet turned around and headed back from where they came, counting the return trip as their second race.

“We went with a spinnaker almost all the way to town…like a party!” laughed Kike Gonzalez (San Juan, PR), the skipper of the J/80 Otrakosa, who posted a 1-2 in CSA Spinnaker 3 class for second place overall. “Mag 7 (a J/27 skippered by St. Thomian Paul Davis) was winning, but in the last 15 minutes of the race we made the right decision, and we were able to pass them.” Back at the dock, Gonzalez had calculated that he would be at the top of the scoreboard and pointed out Timothy Molony’s (New Orleans, La.) Wild at Heart as a good upwind design that he’d have to watch for, along with Mag 7, tomorrow. When overall scores were posted, however, Wild at Heart proved itself more of an immediate threat than Gonzalez had thought. Its score line of 2-1, the reverse of Otrakosa’s, was also good for three points and the fleet lead as well, after tie-breaking rules were applied. (Mag 7 finished third overall.)

 

 Kyle Smith, a crew member aboard Wild at Heart, explained before racing this morning that his fellow crew mates were all from Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans. “We don’t have big expectations,” he said humbly, “because it’s a chartered boat and this is our first time to race it in the islands.”

In CSA Spinnaker 1, Mark Plaxton’s (Tortola, BVI) Melges 32 Team INTAC/CROWLEY finished 1-2 today to lead, leaving second to Andrea Scarabelli’s (St. Maarten, AHO) Melges 24 Budget Marine and third to another Melges 32, David West’s (Tortola, BVI) Jurakan.

“Budget Marine is always, always a boat to think about on the race course,” said Ben Beer (St. Thomas), crew aboard INTAC/CROWLEY. “It’s difficult, however, because we can’t race boat-for-boat with them because of their smaller size, and we have to race boat-for-boat with the other Melges 32. It’s a balance of racing the boat next to you and watching the other boats in the fleet—if you’re not careful, you can fight the battle but lose the war.”

Beer added that he is involved in developing a plan to entice the large group of Melges 32s in the States to put Caribbean racing, including the International Rolex Regatta, on their one-design class racing schedule. “The class is highly competitive, it’s a technical boat–fast, well sailed–and we would get our own one-design start. I mean, look around; it doesn’t matter if you are sailing an IC 24 or a TP52, it’s the best sailing in the world here.”

Other Classes

In CSA Spinnaker 2 class, two Floridians hold first and second place in the 11-boat fleet: Richard Wesslund’s (Miami) J/120 El Ocaso has five points after finishing 4-1 today, while Calvin Reed’s (Tampa, Fla.) Beneteau First 40.7 Elandra of Hamble also has five points, on merit of a 3-2.

interlodge

Interlodge (Photo by Rolex / St.Thomas Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery)

Three TP52s took podium positions after cumulative scores were tabulated in the six-boat IRC 1 class. Jim Swartz’s (Park City, Utah) Vesper/Team Moneypenny holds three points over the five posted by Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s (Newport, R.I.) Interlodge. (Richard Oland’s Canadian entry Vela Veloce, in third place, also accumulated five points.)

Antilope, Willem Wester’s (NED) Grand Soleil in the nine-boat IRC 2 class, is leading after winning both races today. In second, with finishes of 3-2 is Phil Lotz’s (Newport, R.I.) Club Swan 42 Arethusa.

Bernardo Gonzalez’s (Dorado, PR) Beneteau First 35s5 Bonne Chance is leading the 10-boat CSA Non-Spinnaker class after posting a 1-3 today, worth four points, while Tony Sanpere’s (St. Croix, USVI) J/36 Cayennita Grande is in second, also with four points, after finishing 2-2.

The IC 24 One- Design class, with 16 boats, added one more short distance race to its schedule today after finishing the “town races.” Jorge Santiago’s DonQ Cristal, leads with 12 points, but both the second- and third-place finishers share the same point score. They are Chris Cuerreri’s (St. Thomas) Soggy Dollar BVI and William Bailey’s (St. Thomas) Team INTAC JV.

In Beach Cat class, Jorge Ramos’s (San Juan, PR) Hobie 16 Universal posted a 2-1 to lead a nine-boat fleet.

Vesper (Photo by Rolex / St. Thomas Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery)

Vesper (Photo by Rolex / St. Thomas Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery)

Racing continues tomorrow (Saturday) with as many as eight windward/leeward races for the IC 24s, while all other classes will sail a combination of island and/or distance races on the south side of St. John. Sunday features as many as six races for IC 24s and two races for all others on Pillsbury Sound. Racing starts at 10 a.m. each morning.

The International Rolex Regatta is the third of the four-part Caribbean Ocean Racing Circuit (CORC), which also includes major regattas in St. Croix, Puerto Rico and Tortola. Sailors are treated to a mix of short-course and long distance races that take place off St. Thomas Yacht Club and along the waterfronts of St. Thomas and St. John, and those lucky enough to win the top classes here can also take home a Rolex watch as a prize. Parties are legendary, including a Saturday evening reggae party at Yacht Haven Grande marina, which adds exotic flair to the activities.

The International Rolex Regatta has been hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club since 1974, making it the oldest regatta in Rolex’s portfolio of international sailing events. Rolex is known for sponsoring famous offshore and grand-prix events such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rolex Fastnet Race, Giraglia Rolex Cup, Rolex Middle Sea Race, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship.

Harbor Start Of Class IRC 2 (Photo by Rolex / St. Thomas Yacht Club/Ingrid Abery)

Harbor Start Of Class IRC 2 (Photo by Rolex / St. Thomas Yacht Club/Ingrid Abery)

PROVISIONAL RESULTS

International Rolex Regatta 2011

Day 1

Place, Yacht Name, Type, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points

IIC 24 (One Design – 16 Boats)
1. Team Maximus – DonQ Cristal, IC 24, Jorge Santiago , Ponce, PR, USA – 3, 1, 8, ; 12
2. Soggy Dollar BVI, IC 24, Chris Cuerreri , St. Thomas , USVI – 2, 8, 2, ; 12
3. Team INTAC JV, IC 24, William Bailey , St. Thomas, VI, USA – 6, 3, 3, ; 12

CSA Spinnaker 1 (CSA – 6 Boats)
1. Team INTAC/CROWLEY, Melges 32, Mark Plaxton , Sea Cows Bay, Tortola, BVI – 1, 2, ; 3
2. Budget Marine/GILL , Melges 24, Andrea Scarabelli , Cole Bay, St. Maarten, AHO – 3, 1, ; 4
3. Jurakan, Melges 32, David West , Road Town, Tortola, BVI – 2, 3, ; 5

CSA Spinnaker 2 (CSA – 11 Boats)
1. El Ocaso, J 120, Richard Wesslund , Miami, FL, USA – 4, 1, ; 5
2. Elandra of Hamble, Beneteau First 40.7, Calvin Reed , Tampa, FL, USA – 3, 2, ; 5
3. Pipe Dream, Sirena 38, Peter Haycraft , Road Town, Tortola, BVI – 1, 6, ; 7

CSA Spinnaker 3 (CSA – 6 Boats)
1. Wild At Heart, JOD 35, Timothy Molony , New Orleans, LA, USA – 2, 1, ; 3
2. Otrakosa, J 80, Kike Gonzalez , San Juan, PR, USA – 1, 2, ; 3
3. Mag 7, J 27, Paul Davis , Charlotte amalie, VI, USA – 3, 3, ; 6

CSA Non-Spinnaker (CSA – 10 Boats)
1. Bonne Chance, Beneteau First 35s5, Bernardo Gonzalez , Dorado, PR, USA – 1, 3, ; 4
2. Cayennita Grande, J 36, Antonio Sanpere , Christiansted, VI, USA – 2, 2, ; 4
3. Lost Horizon, J 122, James Dobbs , Falmouth, ANT – 5, 1, ; 6

IRC 1 (IRC – 6 Boats)
1. Vesper, TP 52, James Swartz , Park City, Utah, USA – 2, 1, ; 3
2. Interlodge, JV 52, Austin and Gwen Fragomen , Newport, RI, USA – 1, 4, ; 5
3. Vela Veloce, Southern Cross 52, Richard Oland , Saint John, NB, CAN – 3, 2, ; 5

IRC 2 (IRC – 9 Boats)
1. Antilope, Grand Soleil 43, Willem Wester , Breskens, Zeeland, NED – 1, 1, ; 2
2. Arethusa, Club Swan 42, Phil Lotz , Newport, RI, USA – 3, 2, ; 5
3. Three Harkoms, Oceanis 44, James Hudleston , St. Petersburg, FL, USA – 2, 4, ; 6

Beach Cats (Portsmouth – 9 Boats)
1. Universal, Hobie 16, Jorge L Ramos , San Juan, PR, USA – 2, 1, ; 3
2. Time Out, Hobie 16, John Holmberg , St. Thomas, VI, USA – 3, 2, ; 5
3. Island Girl, Hobie 16, Teri McKenna , St. Thomas, VI, USA – 5, 3, ; 8

Shamrock VII , Cayennita Grande and Bonne Chance

Shamrock VII , Cayennita Grande and Bonne Chance (Photo by Rolex / St.Thomas Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery)

 

Rolex St Thomas Yacht Club ( Photo by Rolex/ St. Thomas  Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery)

Rolex St Thomas Yacht Club ( Photo by Rolex/ St. Thomas Yacht Club / Ingrid Abery)

Thirty eight years ago the first International Rolex Regatta took place in St. Thomas and so began an annual tradition that endures to this day. The three-day event, which starts tomorrow, has increased its participants over last year, with 77 teams signed up in IRC, CSA (Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker), IC 24 and Beach Cat classes. The gamut of keelboat sizes runs from 90 feet (the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy’s canting keel Maxi Yacht Genuine Risk, chartered by Sweden’s Hugo Stenbeck and competing in IRC) down to 24 feet (three feisty Melges 24 sport boats competing in CSA Spinnaker 1 class and 16 “homegrown” IC 24s sailing in their own one-design class). Likewise, there are plenty of established teams with “rock star” crews from the top end of the international sailing spectrum and heaps of lesser knowns with otherwise enormous talent from around the globe, surrounding islands, and St. Thomas itself.

Genuine Risk (Photo by George Bekris)

Genuine Risk (Photo by George Bekris)

 IRC and CSA Fleet Racing

Certainly one of the best known names here is Bouwe Bekking (DEN), who will be calling tactics on the Grand Soleil 43 Antilope in IRC 2 class. Bekking has five around the world races under his belt (most notably as skipper of the 2008/09 Volvo Ocean Race entry Telefonica Blue, which finished third), and has also won the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race once and the Cape Town to Rio Race three times.

Antilope is owned by Willem Wester (SUI), who will serve as navigator onboard, and though it is Antilope’s first time to compete in the International Rolex Regatta, Bekking says its core team has been together for several very successful years. As for other recognizable names on the crew, he says, “they are all well known back home. On the international scene; however, our helmsman Philippe Bergmans has two Olympics under his belt in the Laser class, and another crew member Bert Schandevyl sailed in the last Volvo on Delta Lloyd and sails on heaps of good boats.”

For all of his accomplishments, Bekking says this regatta is as important as any other, and he doesn’t have a particular win that he considers his “Holy Grail.” “I like to win even when it is a Wednesday night race; you are only as good as your last result,” said Bekking.

IRC 2 class will also get a show from the likes of Peter Corr’s (St. Thomas) new Warwick 82 Aiyana, which will have Steve Benjamin (South Norwalk, Conn., USA) aboard as tactician. Phil Lotz’s (Newport, R.I.) Swan 42 Arethusa, who won here two years ago, practiced against Aiyana today and was impressed. “They had good speed and a symmetrical chute, so it will be interesting,” said Lotz, explaining that “with Arethusa using an asymmetrical chute, we won’t be sailing the same angles downwind.” He also had good things to say about Pat Eudy’s (Charleston, S.C., USA) Lutra 42 Big Booty. “Big Booty is a good boat; it’s always right there. We sailed against them at the US-IRC Nationals and two years ago here.” Among the other contenders is Tea Ekengren-Sauren’s (FIN) Swan 45 Blue Nights.

Battling with Genuine Risk in IRC 1 class will be Richard Oland’s (CAN) Southern Cross 52 Vela Veloce, which won last year and will have America’s Cup skipper Ed Baird (St. Petersburg, Fla., USA) calling tactics and Richard Clarke (CAN) steering. Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s (Newport, R.I., USA) IRC 52 Interlodge gave them a run for the money last year, up until the last race which they lost by a hair, so the challenge is on. Bill Alcott’s chartered Swan 601 Aquarius will also be on the starting line along with Jim Swartz’s (Edgartown, Mass., USA) Vesper/Team Moneypenny and Ron O’Hanley’s (Boston, Mass.) Cookson 50 Privateer. The Privateer team was so intent on doing this regatta that they sailed the boat down from Florida last week and will deliver it back immediately after the event is over.

 

After class splits were determined this afternoon, CSA Spinnaker 1 class shook out to include three Melges 24s, two Melges 32s and a Henderson 30. “It’s nice to have sport boats all in one class,” said Kevin Rigley (BVI), headsail trimmer on fellow BVI sailor Dave West’s Melges 32 Jurakan. “Our boat speeds are faster on the 32s, but with the handicaps, racing against the 24s is always tight. The 24s might favor lighter conditions (he predicts 12 knots, max 15 over the next three days), but in anything over 15 knots and under 10 knots we might have the edge.”

CSA Spinnaker 2 class features everything from Peter Haycrafts’s (Tortola, BVI) Sirena 38 Pipe Dream to Tony McBride’s (GBR) Beneteau First 50 Bigamist and Sergio Sagramosa’s (San Juan, PR) Grand Soleil 54 Lazy Dog, while CSA Spinnaker 3 class will see plenty of action from the two J/27s Mag 7, skippered by Paul Davis (St. Thomas), and No Sea Dem, skippered by Christopher Hardin (St. Thomas); Robert Read’s (Seekonk, Mass.) J/40 Nepenthe; and Kike Gonzalez’s (San Juan, PR) Otrakosa, among others.

In CSA Non Spinnaker class, Antonio Sanpere (St. Croix, USVI) holds all the cards as defending champion and perhaps the best prepared of the entrants. The crew of his J/36 Cayennita Grande returns with him each year, but there are new faces on the race course for 2011. An all-woman sailing team, GirlsforSail, will step up to the plate, with Annie O’Sullivan (GBR) skippering. Once a buyer for Woolworth’s, O’Sullivan quit that job after seeing famous yachtswoman Ellen McArthur speak and started a company that encouraged women to sail. “It was ten years ago when not many would have asked me to race, and women weren’t given the same chances as men, so I said ‘I’ll have to do it myself,’” said O’Sullivan, who has since skippered her GirlsforSail team on three Atlantic crossings and to victories in such events as Antigua Race Week.

 Other classes

The IC 24 class, the largest with 16 entries here, is hugely popular here in St. Thomas, in large part because the one-design class was developed locally as a way to increase inter-island competition with a fun, easy boat to own and sail. The resulting hybrid of a J/24 hull and Melges 24-style deck did the trick, convincing hordes of talented island sailors to give up whatever they had sailed before and join the class, which at the International Rolex Regatta typically features lead changes on every leg and at every mark rounding on short courses set close to shore. Top IC 24 skippers from St. Thomas include Verian Aquilar on Green Boat, Chris Cuerreri on Soggy Dollar, Paul Stoeken on Island Sol, and Mike Williams on Red Dog. But the fiercest competition will come from off-island from no  less than four Puerto Rican teams, including eight-time winner at this event, Fraito Lugo (Ponce), skippering Orion.

In Beach Cat class, defending champion John Holmberg and his 12-year-old son Kai have proven in recent regattas that they still have what it takes to repeat last year’s performance here. Sailing Hobie One Canobie, the duo will match up with other local Hobie 16 teams Island Girl, skippered by Teri McKenna, and Chancletero, skippered by Mike Williams, while Mark Chong’s (St. Thomas) Blame it on Rhea, Pedro Colon’s (PR) Furia Roja and Jason Siska’s (Fox River Grove, Ill., USA) Puma round out the fleet with Nacra 20, Hobie 20 and Prindle 20 teams, respectively.
 

Race Formats and Schedule

First up on the three-day race schedule are tomorrow’s colorful “town races” that start at St. Thomas Yacht Club and finish in Charlotte Amalie Harbour at lunchtime before starting again around 1 p.m. for a return to the yacht club.  Visitors and residents alike will be able to catch the spectacle from vantage points around the island, including Marriott Frenchman’s Reef, where a bird’s eye view of multi-colored spinnakers can be had.  Racing will continue on Saturday with as many as eight windward/leeward races for the IC 24s, while all other classes will sail a combination of island and/or distance races on the south side of St. John. Sunday features as many as six races for IC 24s and two races for all others on Pillsbury Sound. Racing starts at 10 a.m. each morning.

The International Rolex Regatta is the third of the four-part Caribbean Ocean Racing Circuit (CORC), which also includes major regattas in St. Croix, Puerto Rico and Tortola. Sailors are treated to a mix of short-course and long distance races that take place off St. Thomas Yacht Club and along the waterfronts of St. Thomas and St. John, and those lucky enough to win the top classes here can also take home a Rolex watch as a prize. Parties are legendary, including a Saturday evening reggae party at Yacht Haven Grande marina, which adds exotic flair to the activities.

The International Rolex Regatta has been hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club since 1974, making it the oldest regatta in Rolex’s portfolio of international sailing events. Rolex is known for sponsoring famous offshore and grand-prix events such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rolex Fastnet Race, Giraglia Rolex Cup, Rolex Middle Sea Race, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship.

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Big Booty (Photo by George Bekris)

Big Booty (Photo by George Bekris)