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24 March 2013, 01:30 pm
Winds Play Hide And Seek With International Rolex Regatta Fleet
A pageantry of colorful spinnakers add excitement to Charlotte Amalie harbor.
A pageantry of colorful spinnakers add excitement to Charlotte Amalie harbor.

International Rolex Regatta
St. Thomas, British Virgin Islands

The traditional March trade winds kicked up to 12 to 15 knots giving sailors great competition on this second day of racing in the 40th International Rolex Regatta (IRR).
The day's action took place on three stages. The one-design Melges 32 class started out in Great Bay where playing hide-and-seek with the wind caused the race committee to re-set marks further out in Pillsbury Sound. There was also a half-hour mid-day postponement in the IC-24 and Beach Cat classes as the wind ebbed and finally flowed in Jersey Bay. The spinnaker and non-spinnaker fleets had no trouble finding steady wind on courses set along the south coast of neighboring St. John.

The search for breeze and course resets didn't deter Grand Rapids, Michigan's Dalton DeVos from maintaining his lead in the Melges 32 class. In fact, DeVos and his crew aboard Delta stretched their frontrunner status to an incredible six points after seven races over second place Argo, sailed by New York's Jason Carroll. Meanwhile, the team aboard ngoni, which is sailing in their first Melges 32 regatta, is happy to maintain their mid-class position, says Ian Tillett, ngoni's pit man. "We had the boat and hadn't used it, so we decided to bring it across and race. I'll tell you we're enjoying it a lot. It's better than the cold weather back in the UK."

In CSA Racing 1, Miami, Florida's Rick Wesslund's J/120, El Ocaso, remains in the front of the pack, in spite of taking his first second place finish of the regatta to Puerto Rico's Sergio Sagramoso, aboard the J/122, Lazy Dog, in the afternoon's long distance race. The old adage that says, 'if you can't be first, be different', certainly does hold true for the class's last place finisher. Perhaps 'distinctive' is a more apt description than 'different'. The Farr-designed 68-footer, Ceramco NZ, is a five-time Whitbread Round the World Racer that would have won its first entry in 1981-1982 except for an epic dismasting and jury-rig by New Zealand's famous yachtsman Sir Peter Blake. "This was the first boat built with a favorable design to surf the big waves in the Southern Ocean," explains Ceramco NZ's owner, Diane Masters, of Newport, Rhode Island. "We need at least 20 to 25 knots of wind and then we're untouchable. In light winds like this, we don't have a chance at winning, but we're all having a great time." Masters plans to sail Ceramco NZ back to New Zealand this fall in time for its annual dismasting party.

There could be a cloud on the horizon for St. Croix's Robert Armstrong's, Bad Girl. The J/100 continues in the forefront of the CSA Spinnaker 2 Class, yet Puerto Rico's Jose Santiago's J/105, Dark Star, closed in to within one point of the lead. "We beat them (Bad Girl) in the first short race of the day, and they beat us on the last longer one," explains Santiago. "We're a lot better upwind, especially in the better breeze. We're hoping for more wind tomorrow so we can win the Rolex (timepiece)."

A 3-2-1 finish over two days of racing made it clear that Puerto Rico's Jerome O'Neill's J/39, Crystal, was headed straight to the top of the class. St. Thomas' Tim Snow's Modified Oceanis 440, Three Harkoms, followed in second by one point, while St. Croix's Stan Joines' nearly all-teenager crewed J/36, Paladin, moved up to third place. "We had a great day," explains Joines, the band director at St. Croix's Central High School, who sailed with six students as well as his six-year-old son, Jeremiah. "The kids are excited. Plus, they do what I tell them to without arguing. That's what makes it fun."

In the IRC class, it was Lupa of London that added two more first place bullets to its score. "This is the first time we've raced the Rolex Regatta," says Andy Clark, crew boss for the UK-based Baltic 78 in which the 18 member crew represent six different nationalities. "We sailed well today. The short course was good to keep the crew busy. The long race added a good balance. We're hoping to do well again tomorrow. At this point it looks like we've got the cards and luck in hand."

Puerto Rico's Fraito Lugo is poised to pick up his 10th Rolex by winning the IC-24 class. Lugo, who has won four of these prestigious timepieces in the J/24 class, two in the Melges 24 class and three in the IC-24 class aboard his Orion, is a full five points ahead of Cachondo in second and Magic Bus third. Interesting, Cachondo is skippered by Puerto Rico's twenty-something year old Marco Teixidor, while Magic Bus's helmsman is St. Thomas high school senior, Ian Barrows.

Youth reigns supreme in the Beach Cat class too. St. Thomas' John Holmberg leads aboard his Hobie 16, Humbug, with his 15-year-old son, Kai, as crew. In fourth is the top all-girls team of Rhode Island's Sandra Tartaglino and St. Thomas' Isabelle Austin-Green, on the Hobie 16, In Irons. "I like the Hobie because it's fast and there's also an element of dinghy sailing to it. It's small and compact, but you use a trapeze," explains Austin-Green, a 16-year-old high school sophomore. "We would have done even better if the goose neck off the boom didn't break since we had to go in and miss the first race in order to fix it."

Further information on the International Rolex Regatta may be found at www.rolexcupregatta.com
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