The International Rolex Regatta, which celebrates its 30th year this March 28-30 in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, will find its catamaran roster dramatically expanded by 8-10 U.S. teams that will be competing in the event for the first time.
The teams have impressive credentials and are led by the husband-and-wife team of Jay and Pease Glaser (Long Beach, Calif.), who will be sailing a Nacra F 18. The Glasers have gained sailing notoriety both together and individually. Together, they are three-time Tornado North American Champions; individually, they are Olympic Medallists. Jay won a silver medal in 1984 as crew for Randy Smyth in the Tornado class and Pease won a silver medal in 2000 as crew for JJ Isler in the 470 class. Pease then went on to be named the 2000 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year in the USA.
"Because of the great location and the reputation it has for mixing good competition with great fun, the International Rolex Regatta is something we' ve always wanted to do,"
said Pease, who will steer and believes it will be a unique challenge to face stiff Caribbean competition while fending off her U.S. compatriots. The big guns coming with the U.S. group are two-time Worrell 1000 Champions Brian Lambert (Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.) and Jamie Livingston (Miami, Fla.), sailing an Inter 20, and two-time Nacra 6.0 North American Champions Rick Bliss (Mansfield, Mass.) and Brandy Woods (Littleton, Mass.), sailing a Nacra 6.0. But no one has the Caribbean sailing experience of Puerto Rico's 2004 Olympic Tornado team of Enrique Figueroa (San Juan) and Jorge Hernandez (San Juan). Twice a Hobie 14 World Champion and once a Hobie 16 World Champion, Figueroa also has won seven national Hobie Cat class titles.
"The expanded fleet, with this caliber of competition, will be excellent for our training,"
said Figueroa, a defending champion who has sailed in the International Rolex Regatta 13 out of the last 14 times, missing the year 2000 for Olympic competition. "We will have the gear on our Olympic Tornado prepared to go faster than ever, as we will be getting ready for the Tornado Worlds in September, where we hope to qualify our country for the 2004 Olympic Regatta in Athens."
The International Rolex Regatta attracts monohull boats ranging from 24 to 80 feet and accommodates its large catamaran class on the stretch of beach that is the St. Thomas Yacht Club's backyard. The club hosts the event, where a Rolex watch is awarded to class winners. Tropical Shipping is sponsoring the transportation of the catamarans to the islands.
"The United States Virgin Islands is a perfect venue for sailing, and the International Rolex Regatta is recognized by international sailors as among the best in sailing competitions,"
said Commissioner of Tourism Pamela C. Richards.
Globally, Rolex is renowned for sponsoring high quality, grand prix events such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rolex Fastnet Race, Giraglia Rolex Cup, Rolex Middle Sea Race, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex IMS Worlds, Rolex Farr 40 Worlds and the Rolex Commodore's Cup, which feature the very best in yacht design and sailing talent. Rolex events take place in some of the most prestigious yachting venues in the world - Porto Cervo in Sardinia; St. Tropez in France; Cowes in England; and Newport, Rhode Island and San Francisco, Calif., in the United States, to name a few. The Canadian Yachting Association names a Rolex Sailor of the Year, and on the world's stage, the coveted ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year is presented to deserving male and female athletes.