The culmination of the lively competition, which includes handicap and one-design racing around buoys in open water as well as through the picturesque islands and cays in Cowpet Bay and Pillsbury Sound, will be the presentation of a coveted Rolex timepiece to each class winner.
'With a month to go before registration closes,' said Event Co-Chair John SWEENEY, 'We are expecting our usual mix of veterans and an influx of new talent.'
Perennial competitor Bill ALCOTT (USA), owner of the Great Lakes-based Andrews 70 Equation, will charter a Swan 60 for the competition. 'I do what I call the trifecta - the International Rolex Regatta, the BVI Regatta and then down to Bitter End. It's the best ten days of my life - it has been for decades, and I'm not stopping now.'
Doug BAKER (USA), owner of the record breaking Andrews 80 Magnitude, will sail an Olson 30 at the event with St Thomas native Ben BEER (ISV) aboard to serve as 'local knowledge.'
Returning to the event is John GALLO (USA) and his crew aboard the J/41 Rivoli. Rivoli won the Around the Island Race in St Thomas two years ago, and formerly, as Dazzler, won the Newport to Bermuda Race.
'We have quite a bunch of characters on our boat,' said crewmember Susan WOLTERBEEK (USA). 'John is an entrepreneur, pilot and former jockey; his captain, Jean BRAURE [(ISV)], is a three-time sailing Olympian and alpine guide.'
The US Virgin Island's own Olympic aspirant in the 49er class, Anthony KOTOUN, plans to skipper an IC/24 (20 of the indigenous boats are expected) or possibly switch to a Melges 24. 'The International Rolex Regatta was the first pinnacle event I ever sailed in,' said KOTOUN, who is fund raising in St Thomas and his 'other' hometown of Newport, Rhode Island. 'It was great when I was a kid, and it's still great; with so much buoy racing I have to do, I still love ripping around the islands.'
KOTOUN pairs with another local long time International Rolex Regatta sailor Cy THOMPSON (ISV) in his quest for Olympic gold; however, THOMPSON has collegiate sailing team commitments that are expected to keep him from competing this year in St Thomas.
The Governor's Cup, supported by newly elected USVI Governor John DEJONGH and the V.I. Office of Tourism, will be awarded to the boat and crew that has travelled the farthest to race in the event. The winners will receive free accommodations at the Frenchman's Reef Hotel for the 2008 running of the International Rolex Regatta.
Yachts will be divided into classes according to their ratings under the CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association) Rating Rule (www.caribbean-sailing.com), with special classes accommodating one-designs, multihulls and Beach Cats, as needed.
On the beaches of Cowpet Bay, the volunteers and staff of the St Thomas Yacht Club will again demonstrate the personal touch and generous hospitality for which the International Rolex Regatta is famous. 'Sailors and their families will renew old friendships and make new ones while experiencing the very best in food, parties, and entertainment,' said St Thomas Yacht Club Commodore Thomas MOORE.