(St Thomas, US Virgin Islands)- The 40th edition of the International Rolex Regatta, which took place between 21-24 March, lived up to the event’s proud and esteemed tradition. 72 international yachts including crews representing Germany, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom as well as the customary large contingent from the Caribbean and the United States graced the competition held in St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands.
Building breezes of 10-15 knots across the three days of racing guaranteed a tactically engaging competition. A hard-fought contest in CSA Racing 1 was forecast by Anson Mulder, tactician on United States J/120 EL OCASO. “Tight finishes are the norm and this year will be no different. Several competitors in our class have a shot at winning and past experience tells us LAZY DOG is one team that will be in the hunt. It will definitely be tooth and nail!” So it proved.
The competition was decided by the final race. EL OCASO, owned by Rick Wesslund, took the spoils winning four of the six races to finish ahead of Sergio Sagramoso’s persistent J/122 LAZY DOG from Puerto Rico. It was make or break time on the last day of racing. Rick sums up the fun on the final race this way, "After three days and six races total, it came down to the last race on the last day to determine the winner in our class. In the last race, we were in a dead heat with Lazy Dog. Sometimes we were in the lead, and other times they were. It was a real emotional roller coaster, but we just hung in there. We stayed on it and we won."
The CSA Racing 2 was in for a bit of a surprise as another past winner of the Rolex showed up to steal da'watch and win da'party! Kid-power prevailed in CSA Racing 2. St. Croix's Jack Bishop, with a crew of 14- to 17-year-old sailors aboard the J/100 BAD GIRL took home the prize. "The boat was out of the water for a few years. The owner, Rob Armstrong, wanted to get it back in primarily so the kids could sail," says Bishop, the lone adult who drove. "We finished the first and second days with a one point lead. Today, it was good crew work and staying out of the currents that paid off." Taking 3rd in class was Jonathan Lipuscek's J/105 DARk STAR, they had been the class leaders going into the last race, but unfortunately had to take a DNF/12pts in the final race to drop back down the ladder. The J/30 COMFORTABLY NUMB skippered Marston Winkles from the local host St Thomas YC won the last race to grab 6th overall!
While they may be going for "white sails only" racing (some call it "the blender division" for good reason!), the CSA Non-Spinnaker class saw one of the regattas most dominant performances. A double bullet day secured the lead for the J/39 CRYSTAL. "The first day we were in a three-way tie for first with Three Harkoms and Paladin," explains Puerto Rico's Jerome O'Neill, who skippered CRYSTAL. The second day, we won the only race of the day and it eked us into first. Our mission today was to cover Three Harkoms. We got another two firsts and that put the nail in their coffin." The J/36 PALADIN sailed by Stanford Joines from St Croix YC along with another youth crew sailed beautifully to grab third overall on a tie-breaker with another J/Team colleague, the J/95 SHAMROCK VII sailed by Tom Mullen.
Another memorable Rolex St Thomas is now "in the can" and congratulations must go out to the St Thomas YC for being such incredible hosts, to Rolex for the vision to support one of the world's best regattas and to "Sir Canfield" for being top dog running the regatta as Chief PRO and race manager. Sailing Photos by Ingrid Abery/ Hot Capers- http://www.ingridabery.com For more Rolex Regatta sailing information