With the wind blowing 20-22 knots on opening day of the International Rolex Regatta, everyone had a war story to tell when they got back to shore. The three-day event kicked off with a race to town, in which 90 boats took off from the east end of St. Thomas, where the 35-year-old event is hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club, for the bustling waterfront of Charlotte Amalie. After the downwind sprint, the fleet reversed course and sailed back home “on the nose.”
“Our kite exploded early in the first race, which isn’t too surprising,” said local sailing hero Peter Holmberg, whose perfect start in IRC 2 included forcing others above the committee boat while his team peeled off cleanly at the gun. An Olympic medalist who was weaned on this regatta, Holmberg led a crew from OnDeck Racing, a racing yacht charter company, in his first appearance since returning from a 10-year hiatus to sail in the America’s Cup. Having mentally prepared the crew for what could go wrong in the given conditions, Holmberg rallied for a second-place finish in race one and turned in a fourth in the second race for a fourth overall. “It’s all working well,” he said.
Winning IRC 2 was Richard Matthews’ (Essex, UK) Humphreys 42 Oystercatcher XXVI, while Clive Llewellyn’s (Paris, France) Judel/Vrolik 49 Mad IV finished second overall and Christopher Lloyd’s Beneteau 44 Three Harkoms took third.
Meanwhile in IRC 1, Sam Fleet’s (East Greenwich, R.I.) Swan 601 Aquarius kept damage to a minimum to win on the merit of a 3-1 scoreline. “We took delivery of the boat last November. It was the old Artemis, geared for Mediterranean sailing in eight knots. But now it’s a go-fast boat since we added a bowsprit and an asymmetrical spinnaker for IRC racing.” This is Fleet’s first time competing at the Rolex Regatta, and he came because of the new IRC offering here. “So far I’m really happy,” Fleet added. “The courses are beautiful and I love going around the islands.”
Aquarius enjoyed tight racing with Ron O’Hanley’s (Ipswich, Mass.) Farr-designed Cookson 50 Privateer, which enjoyed great starts and smooth sailing until just before the finish of the second race, when a jib car blew up. They had won the first race and were looking good to win again but suffered the severe scoring setback of a DNF (did not finish) worth six points, which pushed them to fourth place overall. The misfortune cleared the way for Bill Alcott’s Andrews 68 Equation to secure second place overall, while Norbert Plambeck’s (Cuxhaven, Germany) Frers 80 Hexe took third.
A mechanical failure didn’t keep Puerto Rico’s Olympic hopefuls Enrique Figueroa and Jorge Hernandez from blazing to victory in the Beach Cat class. The team sailed the 20-foot Tornado DRD/Suzuki/Red Bull, which was one of only ten among the 17-strong fleet to complete racing today. “When we started, it was pretty exciting and way windy, ” said Figueroa, who has four world catamaran titles to his credit, “but then it got flatter and more stable closer to town, so we pushed harder and we went over.” When the team righted, they had broken the snuffer, which houses the spinnaker between hoists, and therefore had to lash the spinnaker to the trampoline and launch it by hand. “It was better that this happened today than tomorrow when we’re to do a bunch of windward-leeward races. There is no way we could’ve kept up that pace.”
The promising newcomer to the Beach Cat class, John Casey (Orlando, Fla.), sailing Gringo Starr, got skunked 100 yards after the first start when a cruising trimaran cut him off and he flipped while avoiding what would have been a dire ramming situation. “We damaged the mast rotation system and ripped our jib. We actually finished the first race still using the jib but had to take it down before the second race. It was just no use, we couldn’t go anywhere.”
The International Rolex Regatta is part of the US-IRC Gulf Stream Series 2008. Racing continues tomorrow for a total of eight classes: two in IRC division, four in CSA Division (two for spinnaker racing, one for non-spinnaker racing and one for Spinnaker Racing/Cruising), Beach Cats and IC24 One-Designs.
Live results by Interactive Creations (www.intercreate.com) will be posted on www.rolexcupregatta.com, where hometown rosters, nightly reports and photos also can be found. Daily video coverage will be available on demand by 9 p.m. each night at www.t2p.tv or by clicking on the TV icon on the regatta web site.
A.H. Riise, Official Retailer of Rolex watches in the U.S. Virgin Islands, takes an active role in sponsorship of the event. The St. Thomas duty free shop is one of the largest in the Caribbean and is located on the historic waterfront of downtown Charlotte Amalie. Rolex is known for sponsoring high quality 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 Worlds.
Place, Boat, Type, Skipper, Hometown, Finish Postions, Cumulative Score
IC24 One Design (One Design – 17 Boats)
1. Bmobile, IC 24, Fred Ruebeck / Colin Rathbun, Tortola, Virgin Gorda – 1, 2, ; 3
2. Orion, IC 24, Fraito Lugo, Ponce, PR, USA – 4, 1, ; 5
3. Magic Bus, IC 24, Phillip Shannon, St. Thomas, VI, USA – 2, 4, ; 6
Spinnaker Racing 1 (CSA – 15 Boats)
1. Devil Cubed, Melges 24, Chris Stanton, Christiansted, VI, USA – 1, 2, ; 3
2. Bad Girl, J 100, Robert W. Armstrong, St. Croix, VI, USA – 4, 1, ; 5
3. Carib, Melges 24, Fritz Bus, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten – 2, 6, ; 8
Spinnaker Racing 2 (CSA – 14 Boats)
1. Don Q Cristal, J 24, Jorge Santiago, Ponce, PR, USA – 2, 2, ; 4
2. Ex Mero Motu, J 80, Antonio Mari, San Juan, PR, USA – 1, 4, ; 5
3. Urayo, J 24, Gilberto E. Rivera, Guaynabo, PR, USA – 5, 1, ; 6
Non-spinnaker Racing 1 (CSA – 12 Boats)
1. Hotel California Too, Santa Cruz 70, Stephen Schmidt, St. Thomas, VI, USA – 1, 3, ; 4
2. Medalla Light, J 24, Juan Moline, Vega Baja, PR, USA – 2, 2, ; 4
3. Affinity, Swan 48, Jack Desmond, Marion, MA, USA – 6, 1, ; 7
Spinnaker Racing/Cruising (CSA – 8 Boats)
1. Lazy Dog, Beneteau First 40.7, Sergio Sagramoso, San Juan, PR – 3, 1, ; 4
2. El Ocaso, J 120, Richard Wesslund, Coconut Grove, FL, USA – 2, 2, ; 4
3. Pipe Dream, Sirena 38, Peter Haycraft, Road Town, Virgin Gorda – 1, 4, ; 5
IRC 1 (IRC – 5 Boats)
1. Aquarius, Swan 601CR, Sam Fleet, East Greenwich, RI, USA – 3, 1, ; 4
2. Equation, Andrews 68, Bill Alcott, St. Clair Shores, MI, USA – 2, 3, ; 5
3. Hexe, Frers 80, Norbert Plambeck, Cuxhaven, GER – 4, 2, ; 6
IRC 2 (IRC – 7 Boats)
1. Oystercatcher XXVI, Humphreys 42, Richard Matthews, Ipswich, UK – 1, 3, ; 4
2. Mad IV, Judel/Vrolik 49, Clive Llewellyn, Paris, FR – 4, 1, ; 5
3. Three Harkoms, Beneteau 44, Christopher Lloyd, Tortola, VG – 3, 2, ; 5
Beach Cats (Portsmouth – 17 Boats)
1. DRD/Suzuki/Red Bull, Tornado 20, Enrique Figeroa, San Juan, PR, USA – 1, 1, ; 2
2. Image Immobilier, Nacra F18, Olivier Bernaz, St. Martin – 2, 2, ; 4
3. Nacra St. Barth, F18 Nacra Infusion, Jeff (Jean-Francois) LeDee / Jordil Vincent, St. Barthelemy – 3, 3, ; 6
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