The 33rd International Rolex Regatta was every sailor's best dream. The three day event, hosted by the St. Thomas Yacht Club in the US Virgin Islands from 24-26 March, saw hundreds of sailors aboard 92 boats plying the shockingly blue waters of the Caribbean under colour matched skies, with winds cooperating perfectly.
After a finish and restart just inside the harbor, a reverse-direction race brought the fleet of 92 boats back home. Eight different classes of 24-80 foot boats enjoyed the spree, which was made more indulgent by 15-20 knot easterly winds. The wind direction made for mostly off-the-wind sailing on the way to town, though various turning marks lengthened the course and necessitated some upwind strategy. The race home switched to a mostly upwind battle against a 3-4 foot chop on top of big swells.
With finishes of 4-1, Martin JACOBSON's (Greenwich, Conn.) Swan 44 Crescendo maintained its lead from yesterday in Spinnaker Racing Cruising class. 'It was definitely interesting today,'
said crew member Tom CASTIGLIONE (Rowayton, Conneticut), noting that his team didn't need a specified navigator on today's two distance races, which were 10 miles and 15 miles respectively. 'We navigated by committee; you could just look around and see most everything you needed to.'
The Beneteau 40.7 Lazy Dog, skippered by Sergio SAGRAMOSO (San Juan, Puerto Rico), gave Crescendo a run for its money with a 2-2 in that class today, but his team sits six points behind the leader in second place. 'We like the round-the-buoys racing of yesterday better, because it gives more chances for things to happen,'
said SAGRAMOSO, who hopes tomorrow's planned long distance race in Pillsbury Sound will have enough upwind and downwind legs on its course to increase his chances of catching the leader.
Sagramoso's sentiment was somewhat shared by Jens HOOKANSEN (Middletown, Rhode Island) aboard Robert ARMSTRONG's (Gallos Bay, St. Croix) J/100 Expensive Habit. Although the boat holds onto its lead from yesterday, HOOKANSEN maintained that it is faster upwind than downwind. 'The boats with asymmetrical spinnakers just killed us today on the downwind legs,'
said HOOKANSEN. 'Tomorrow's race will be good for us only if we have some good upwind legs.' A testament to HOOKANSEN's theory was Expensive Habit's fifth-place finish in today's first race, followed by a victory in the second.
For another class leader, Danilo SALSI of Milan, Italy, today's race fit perfectly with his long-term racing plan. 'This is group training for us,'
said SALSI, owner and skipper of the Frers 45 Dsk Comifin in Spinnaker Racing Class 1. 'Usually in the Mediterranean, it is only windward-leeward course racing, so this is new for us. It is what we need.'
Dsk Comifin recently finished second at Acura Key West Race Week and travels next to compete in the BVI Spring Regatta, Rolex Antigua Sailing Week and the Newport to Bermuda Race.
Traveling from Ghent, Belgium are four teams from the Arena Sailing Club, sailing in Non-Spinnaker Racing Class 2, where Cayennita, a Soverel 27 owned by Elle and Tony SANPERE (Christiansted, USVI) has moved into the lead. 'We sail on the North Sea, and each year we choose one Caribbean regatta to sail in,' said the club's spokesman Zeelmaekeus RECTOR. 'In the evenings we are friends, but on the race course we are competitors against each other.' Holding leads from yesterday are Three Harkoms, a Beneteau 44 skippered by Christopher LLOYD (Road Town, Tortola, BVI) in Non-Spinnaker Racing Class 1; Urayo, a J/24 skippered by Gilberto RIVERA (San Juan, Puerto Rico) in CSA 24 Class; and Suzuki / Red Bull, a Hobie Cat 16 skippered by Enrique FIGUEROA (San Juan, Puerto Rico) in Beach Cats Class.
St. Thomian Chris Rosenberg took over the lead yesterday in IC-24 class today aboard Bambooshay.
Live results by Interactive Creations (www.yachtscoring.com) are posted on www.rolexcupregatta.com, where hometown rosters, nightly reports and photos also can be found. Daily video coverage will be available on demand by 9 p.m. each night at www.t2p.tv or by clicking on the related icon on the regatta web site.
Rolex also is the title sponsor for the Rolex Antigua Sailing Week, due for its 39th running from Sunday 30 April through Saturday 6 May 2006.