'This is one of the best island regattas because of the venue, the course selection, and the winds,' said defending champion Martin JACOBSON (USA), whose Swan 44 Crescendo won Sunday's Pillsbury Sound distance race and added the victory to three others in his six-race series to secure victory in the Spinnaker Racing Cruising class. 'It's why we come back.' JACOBSON's class, along with four others on the Ocean Circle, sailed three windward/leeward courses on opening day and two middle-distance races (from the east end of St Thomas to Charlotte Amalie and back) on Saturday. Sunday's race, a navigator's delight, totalled 21 miles and took about three hours for Crescendo to complete. Straight bullets marked the overall regatta performances of three winning teams, whose skippers were awarded with Rolex Steel Submariner timepieces as prizes.
One of those teams was Doug BAKER's (USA) Olson 30 J Bird 4 in Spinnaker Racing Class 3. About Sunday's racing, tactician Keith KILPATRICK (USA) said a good start combined with the longer length of the course enabled his team to put more distance on the fleet than in the previous races. 'Our strength is buoy racing, because there is not as much local knowledge involved,' said KILPATRICK, adding that the boat's southern California crew gets plenty of experience in that discipline from regularly sailing BAKER's Andrews 80 Magnitude. 'Today on the first beat, we really didn't know which way to go - but it was all fun.'
For Chris STANTON (ISV), who strung his victories together like a perfect pearl necklace in Spinnaker Racing Class 2, Sunday's winds, rather than local knowledge, helped put his Melges 24 Devil 3 ahead. 'It seemed to start out light, but it got every bit as windy as the last few days,' said STANTON. 'It was more southerly than usual, so the waves were not as steep as they can be in the Sound - it helped us in the smaller boats.' Sailors dubbed racing in this class the 'battle of the Melges boats,' since three other Melges 24s and two Melges 32s also competed.
In the Non-Spinnaker class, which sailed only one race through the islands on opening day to include four races instead of six in its scoreline, it was Christopher LLOYD (IVB) and his Beneteau 442 Three Harkoms who won all the races to easily defend his crown. 'Nobody stopped working the whole time - that was the secret,' said LLOYD.
Carlo FALCONE (ANT), the winner of Spinnaker Racing Class 1 on his Vallicelli 44 Caccia Alla Volpe, continued focussing on his closest competitor Clive LLEWELLYN (FRA) aboard the Grand Soleil 48 Mad IV. He finished second to LLEWELLYN's first, but it was enough to edge LLEWELLYN out of first by two points. 'We stayed close but had a bit of a cushion today,' said Caccia's mainsheet trimmer Karl JAMES (ANT), who has represented Antigua twice in the Olympic Games in the Laser class.
The IC-24s, a fleet indigenous to the area, completed 13 races in their series, using this final day to complete five windward-leeward races on a separate racecourse instead of participating in the Pillsbury Sound race. Tying on point scores were Mio Broadband and Michael HIRST (PUR) and Orion's Fraito LUGO (PUR), with the tiebreaker going to Broadband.
'On the last day you get more defensive if you have the lead, and it's better to be on the offensive,' said Robby HIRST (IVB), who was the British Virgin Island's Olympic representative in 1996 and has won the IC-24 class here now three times in a row. 'We had very mixed results today, and we could see that Fraito was very focussed.' Going into Sunday, Orion was 12 points behind Mio Broadband, having made the major mistake of missing a mark of the course in Saturday's second race and suffering dearly for it after having to turn back to re-round. On Sunday, however, LUGO - who has won this event five times in a J/24 and another time in a Melges 24 - did a stellar job of 'putting boats between us,' but it was just not good enough for the overall victory.
Enrique FIGUEROA and crew Jorge HERNANDEZ (PUR), two names synonymous with Olympic sailing, easily won the race today and the Beach Cats class overall with their 20 foot Tornado Suzuki/Red Bull. The duo, which represented Puerto Rico in the Tornado class at the Athens Games and hopes to do so again at Qingdao in 2008, blew away their competition, but it was expected. FIGUEROA, either with is wife Carla or HERNANDEZ, has won this regatta at least a dozen times. 'It took us two hours to cover 37 miles today at an average boat speed of 15 knots,' said HERNANDEZ, 'and we smoked the big boats.' HERNANDEZ said he and FIGUEROA used the regatta for testing equipment before heading off to Mallorca tomorrow for an international regatta. 'When we sail in some beautiful place in Europe, and someone says what a nice day, I say 'no, no, you haven't seen a nice day until you've sailed in the Caribbean!'
The International Rolex Regatta is part of the US-IRC Gulf Stream Series 2007.
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.