Ingrid Abery Photography /

Twin town races

International Rolex Regatta sets sail

Friday March 25th 2011, Author: Barby MacGowan, Location: Virgin Islands

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 a party!” recounted Kike Gonzalez, skipper of the J/80 Otrakosa, which 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 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 Melges 32 Team INTAC/Crowley finished 1-2 today to lead, leaving second to Andrea Scarabelli’s Melges 24 Budget Marine and third to another Melges 32, David West’s BVI based Jurakan.

Budget Marine is always, always a boat to think about on the race course,” said Ben Beer, 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."

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

Three 52 footers took podium positions after cumulative scores were tabulated in the six-boat IRC 1 class. Jim Swartz’s Vesper/Team Moneypenny holds three points over the five posted by Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s Interlodge, leaving Richard Oland’s Canadian entry Vela Veloce, in third place, also on five accumulated points.

Antilope, Willem Wester’s 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 Club Swan 42 Arethusa.

Bernardo Gonzalez’s 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 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 Soggy Dollar BVI and William Bailey’s Team INTAC JV.

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

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.


International Rolex Regatta 2011 - results - day 1

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

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.

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