Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rolex St Thomas Regatta Preview

J/120 El Ocaso and Rick Wesslund teamJ/Teams Duel for 40th Anniversary Supremacy
(St Thomas, US Virgin Islands)- An impressive fleet of seventy boats will contest three days of racing as part of an event that has graced the international yachting calendar since the 1970s.  From March 21 to 24, hundreds of eager crews from Germany, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom in addition to the usual large contingent from the United States and the Caribbean will again be competing for that Holy Grail of the "Rolex Regatta"- Rolex Submariner watches for the skipper of the winning crew.

Reflecting on the upcoming event, International Rolex Regatta Chairman Bill Canfield remarked: “Reliable winds every day, terrific competition, a challenging mix of courses, and of course plenty of camaraderie, the 40th Anniversary of the International Rolex Regatta will be a regatta to remember!"  Scheduled a week earlier this year to accommodate some holistic changes on the Spring Caribbean regatta schedule, "the Rolex" is etched into every racer’s mind as the "Crown Jewel" of Caribbean racing--where sailors can experience reliable breezes, warm azure waters and world-renowned Island hospitality.

J/36 sailing Caribbean regattasCanfield added that the St. Thomas Yacht Club is the Storm Trysail Club's southern station, and its race management team has a stellar reputation. For handicap (IRC and CSA) and One-Design classes, the regatta traditionally offers a variety of courses ideally configured to test a sailor's skills while showcasing the stunning shoreline. Included are the first day's "Harbor Races" from the club to Charlotte Amalie Harbor and back, testing everyone's focus; the second day's "Island Race," testing navigational nerve by sending competitors short tacking the length of St. John's south shore and back; and the final day's "Sound Race," testing one's determination on complex courses around the cays of Pillsbury Sound (and numerous coral reef outcroppings!).

As they did for the Heineken St Maarten Regatta, the "top dogs" for J sailing teams will again be present for the Rolex Regatta.  Leading the way in CSA Racing 1 will be the J/122 LAZY DOG skippered by Sergio Sagramoso from Ponce Yacht & Fishing Club; in the J/120 EL OCASO will be a former Rolex winner, Rick Wesslund from Coral Reef YC; and the sleeper in the bunch may very well be the J/105 DARK STAR sailed by Jonathan Lipuscek and a good crew from Club Nautico Puerto Rico.

The CSA Racing 2 may be in for a bit of a surprise as another past winner of the Rolex has shown up and may very well steal da'watch and win da'party!  Yes, they're at it again!  The J/100 BAD GIRL sailed by Bob Armstrong from St Croix YC will be out to win on the water as well as off the water!  Not too far behind them chasing for class honors will be the J/30 COMFORTABLY NUMB skippered Marston Winkles from the local host St Thomas YC and the J/80 SUNBUM II led by Angel Ayala from Club Nautico Puerto Rico.

While they may be going for "white sails only" racing (some call it "the blender division" for good reason!), the CSA Non-Spinnaker class is going to have a "whale of a time" trying to put odds on which horse is going to win the racing!  At the top of the J/Teams heap is the J/120 JAGUAR WATERWORLD sailed by Ben Jelic from St Maarten YC, it's a highly modded J/120 with a bulb keel!  Then, you have a past multiple Rolex watch winner, the renamed J/36 PALADIN sailed by Stanford Joines from St Croix YC along with a youth crew!  Cool stuff.  Then, you have another thoroughbred in the J stable, the J/39 CRYSTAL with Jerome O'Neill at the helm from Club Nautico Puerto Rico.  And past BVI class winner, the J/95 SHAMROCK VII sailed by Tom Mullen from Royal British Virgin Islands YC is not resting on their laurels either!  Quite a few tough hombres in this class, it may be determined in the last race!  
For an amusing idea on "how to pitch a regatta, party and jump-up", watch this video   For more Rolex Regatta sailing information