Rolex Cup Regatta
First Timers, Veterans, and In Between
ST. THOMAS, USVI (January 16, 2011) – Hundreds of sailors head to the Caribbean each year to compete in the St. Thomas Yacht Club’s International Rolex Regatta, and this year, from March 25-27, the three-day event will prove once again--for the 38th time, in fact--that its unique blend of island-style hospitality, competition and camaraderie is the perfect formula for attracting new talent as well as die-hards devoted to returning year after year. The event offers IRC and CSA handicap and one-design racing in a strikingly beautiful setting, with courses that thread through and around the cuts and cays of St. Thomas and St. John. Featured distance races stretch from Cowpet Bay to Charlotte Amalie Harbour and back, showcasing the coastline and harbor capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“This will be our first time ever to race in the Caribbean and the International Rolex Regatta,” said John Bowden, project manager for Pat Eudy’s Big Booty, a Grand Prix 42 out of Charleston, S.C. “Everyone is looking forward to getting down there.” “Everyone” is a crew of 12 that includes Eudy’s regular crew aboard his J/105 sailed in South Carolina and two additional crew, Landon Wyatt and his 20-year-old son, also named Landon, who secured their berths when Eudy auctioned them off to benefit the charity First Tee of Charlotte.
"I grew up sailing, and my son is a life-long sailor,” said the elder Wyatt. “Crewing on a boat like Big Booty has been one of his dreams, so my wife and I jumped at the chance when Pat offered these spots."
Eudy bought Big Booty—a fast, planing sport boat--less than a year ago and is modifying its keel to improve upwind and downwind performance. “The International Rolex Regatta is the perfect place to see what we can do with it,” said Bowden, who added that the boat will first be tested at Key West Race Week before sailing down to St. Thomas. “That said, the overall goal is to get out on the water, go fast, and have fun.”
IRC class competition for Big Booty will include the Swan 42 Arethusa, sailed by Phil and Wendy Lotz (New Canaan, Conn./Newport, R.I.); the Grand soleil 43 Antilope, sailed by Willem Wester (New Zealand); the Swan 601 Aquarius sailed by Bill Alcott (St. Clair Shores, Mich.); and the TP52 Interlodge, sailed by Austin and Gwen Fragomen (Newport, R.I.)
“Big Booty is a mini TP52, and we may end up in the same class as her,” said Interlodge’s captain Kris Matthews. Interlodge competed in the International Rolex Regatta for the first time last year and lost on the final day to Richard Oland’s (New Brunswick, Canada) IRC 52 Vela Veloce. While the Fragomens’ crew are looking for redemption this year, Matthews says timing of the regatta is also important. “The owners like to ski, so the late-March date works to give them more time back home to do that.”
Bill Alcott, who has been sailing in the event since the 1980s, this year is replacing his Andrews 70 Equation with the chartered Aquarius, which will be sailed by his regular crew from the Midwest. He is known for exemplifying how winning is important but not everything. “It’s not necessary in order to have a good time at the Rolex,” he contends, making it clear that fun is something no one leaves the International Rolex Regatta without having experienced whether it’s by reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, or simply participating in a variety of social gatherings, including the reggae music concert at Yacht Haven Grande or the traditional beach parties at St. Thomas Yacht Club.
For some, owning a boat or being a long-time member of an existing racing campaign is not a requirement for participating in the International Rolex Regatta. Through Safe Passage Sailing, individual or team competitors can plug in as crew to one of two programs: one with Brian Thompson (UK) and Rich Stearns (USA) mentoring on the Frers 80’ Kialoa V and another with Suzette Smith (Hawaii) leading an all-woman crew aboard the Swan 51 Northern Child.
“We’re simply offering a service that’s turn-key and engages racing pros as mentors,” said Safe Passage Sailing’s Randee Fowler, who added that registrations thus far have come from as far away as Russia and Australia. “It’s an opportunity not only to participate without owning a boat but also to have these world class sailors onboard with you.” Thompson is widely recognized as one of the world’s most talented multihull sailors, holding 25 sailing records; Stearns, is a veteran of U.S. Olympic and America’s Cup campaigns; and Smith is a charter captain and an award winning instructor who was also a member of the first and only all-woman America’s Cup Team America3.
St. Thomas Yacht Club assures all competing yachts are provided appropriate facilities. Once again, free dockage and container storage is available during the regatta at Island Global Yachting’s American Yacht Harbor and Yacht Haven Grande for boats that prefer to be at a full-service marina rather than anchored off the Club.
The Notice of Race for the 2011 International Rolex Regatta can be found at www.rolexcupregatta.com, where online registration, current entries and competitor updates are available. During the event, race fans enjoy daily video by T2p.tv and real-time race information, including blog updates and live results, via the internet and on large screens at the yacht club.
Stellar Performances Cap Three Days of Racing
ST. THOMAS, USVI (March 28, 2010) – Last year he lost this event in the final races on the last day, but this year at the 37th International Rolex Regatta (March 26-28), Puerto Rico’s Fraito Lugo had built some good padding into his score line over two days and followed form on the third, today, to win the IC 24 class and a Rolex timepiece (which he awarded to his trimmer Milton Gonzalesz) as proof of his team’s prowess shown over 17 races. Lugo now can claim eight International Rolex Regatta victories in a variety of classes, but he remained “in the moment” back at the St. Thomas Yacht Club, where a magnificent stage—built over the water while the sailors were out racing—seemed to magically appear in time for an energy-charged awards ceremony for the nearly 70 teams competing.
“We feel so happy,” said Lugo on behalf of his Orion team, which wound up with 59 points to beat out Colin Rathbun’s (Road Town, Tortola, BVI) Lime, with 76 points. “After the first three races today (with finish positions of 2-2-1), we knew we were clear to win. Our plan was to have no fouls and sail consistently. We had very good speed today, and that was the difference.”
The IC 24s, hybrid one-designs that combine a J/24’s body with a Melges 24-style cockpit, continued with short round-the-buoy races after the event’s opening “town races” on Friday, while their counterparts in six other classes (IRC, Spinnaker Racing 1 and 2, Non-Spinnaker Racing, Spinnaker Racing/Cruising and Beach Cats) took to the more scenic winding courses through and around the cuts, cays and islands off the east end of St. Thomas, USVI, where host St. Thomas Yacht Club is located.
“This year we arranged for some races to snug up next to St. John, so competitors could expand their horizons and our sister island could share in some of the excitement of seeing the spectacle of the fleet racing,” said Regatta Co-Chair John Sweeney. “For the same reasons, we had the IC 24s racing off the beachfront at the Ritz Hotel on Saturday, and later that night, hundreds of sailors, organizers, volunteers and townspeople took part in a giant reggae music concert and food festival at Yacht Haven Grande, where some of the event’s larger boats are berthed. All to say, everyone really enjoyed getting around to different places on the island and out on the water.”
The battle in Spinnaker Racing 2 Class that had been set up yesterday between Chris Stanton’s (Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI) Melges 24 Devil 3 and Dave West’s (Road Town, Tortola, BVI) Melges 32 Jurakan ended with the former team beating out the latter by four points in overall scoring. According to Stanton’s brother Peter, his tactician and jib trimmer (who accepted the Rolex timepiece), the first of two races today was short enough (½ hour) that “no one could get away.” In fact, the first eight boats in the class were within just over a minute of each other at the finish, but Jurakan took the race victory over second-place Devil 3, beating them by 20 seconds on corrected time. “Then it was whoever-beat-whom in the second race for determining who would win (the regatta),” said Stanton, explaining that the Pillsbury Course they next sailed took almost three and 1/2 hours to complete and was full of decisions to make, due to current, wind holes and shifts. “We worked the boat as much as we could, and when we did a time check about halfway through, we were neck-and-neck with Jurakan. A lot of good things happened to us, and three quarters of the way through the race we realized we were four minutes ahead (on corrected time).” As for final finish positions in that race, Devil 3 posted a victory while Jurakan claimed a fourth, sealing the deal–and the winning of the Rolex timepiece--for Devil 3.
In IRC class, Richard Oland’s (Rothesay, NB, CAN) Vela Veloce, with Brian Ledbetter (Seattle, Wash.) driving, posted a final score of 13 points to beat out Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s (New York, N.Y.) Interlodge. “In the first race, when we got a first, Interlodge got a fourth,” said Oland, “and in the second race we were leading most of the way, but they passed us (for a fourth to Interlodge’s third).” In the end the point spread was only by two points, indicative of the tight battle the two 52-footers had been having all weekend. “It’s pleasing to come from Canada to the Islands and be up against these world players,” said Oland about his first-ever experience racing at the International Rolex Regatta. “I already have a Rolex watch, but this one is better,” he added with a grin, after the awards presentation. Ledbetter, who won an Olympic silver medal in the Finn class at the 1992 Olympics, called the three days of racing “magical” compared to the windward/leeward racing he is used to doing.
The fourth winner of a Rolex timepiece was James Dobbs’ (Antigua) J/122 Lost Horizon in Spinnaker Racing/Cruising Class. “I knew which boats had a chance of winning before the race,” he said, referring to a tight group at the top of the scoreboard that included second-place finisher Three Harkoms, a Beneteau 442 skippered by James Hudleston (Yarmouth, UK). “I’ve sailed against them before, and they are serious about racing, as we are.”
Antonio Sanpere’s (Christiansted, VI) J/36 Cayennita Grande finished out his Non-Spinnaker Racing series with an unbeatable string of five victories in as many races. The Farr 65 Team On-Deck/Spirit of Isis (Antigua), skippered by Luiz Gonsalves, beat out Kialoa V in overall scoring in CSA Spinnaker Racing 1 class, while John Holmberg’s (St. Thomas) Hobie 16 Time Out prevailed to win the Beach Cat class.
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 shop is one of the largest in the Caribbean and is located on the historic waterfront of downtown Charlotte Amalie. Island Global Yachting and USVI Tourism are also sponsors of the event. Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Hotel, Mount Gay Rum and Heineken are supporters.
2009 International Rolex Regatta
We've proudly hosted this regatta since 1974," said William Newbold, Commodore of St. Thomas Yacht Club. "Over three days, the finest yachtsmen and yachtswomen from around the Caribbean, United States, and Europe join in world-class racing in a spectacular environment, which includes the warm, clear waters surrounding our Club. It's an adventurous way to get a jump on their summer sailing season."
Veteran competitor Bill Alcott of Detroit, Michigan, who owns the 68-foot yacht Equation, counts the International Rolex Regatta as "one of the highlights of my life and love of competition and the sea--I wouldn't miss it for the world." America's Cup veteran Peter Holmberg, who calls St. Thomas home, is one of the more famous local sailors who attends, while last year Norbert Plambeck, from Cuxhaven, Germany, came from farthest abroad to sail his Frers 80 Hexe.
The regatta’s popularity is attributable to its professional race management, dependable trade winds and varied and challenging schedule of races -- including both around-the-buoys and distance courses.
"The hotly contested one-design racing on the St. James Circle returns," said Regatta Co-Chair John Sweeney, "and now that we have IRC off the ground, we expect an increase in those boats on the Ocean Circle." Sweeney added that the picturesque distance race from the east end of St. Thomas to Charlotte Amalie Harbor and back has established itself as an Island tradition. Also highlighting the regatta is the beautiful yet tactically demanding Pillsbury Sound Race in and among the cays between St. Thomas and St. John. This "Sunday drive" has decided final standings in most classes each of the last four years.
After racing, beachside social activities blend St. Thomas Yacht Club's island-style hospitality with the outstanding camaraderie and competition that hundreds of participants have come to expect each year. The finishing touch is the awards stage that magically appears over the water on the last day of racing and the presentation of coveted Rolex timepieces to winners of qualifying classes.While most of the yachts moor or anchor (or rest on the beach, as is the case with the Beach Cats) within St. Thomas Yacht Club’s watery backyard of Cowpet Bay, the posh new Yacht Haven Grande Marina in Charlotte Amalie can be second home to any boats that prefer full-service facilities.