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31 March 2003, 09:58 am
Final Day a Scorcher
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Contact - Melges 24 Winner

International Rolex Regatta
St Thomas

With winds registering 15-20 knots, 97 boats in 11 classes took to the perfec conditions of the blue Caribbean waters to finalize their positions at the three-day regatta and claim class titles and Rolex watches as top prizes.
For St. Maarten's Frits Bus, skippering the Melges 24 2 Contact Caribe in Spinnaker Racing Class 2, a final overall victory was especially sweet. "I've sailed this regatta six or seven times and I've always finished second. It feels great to finally win." Though Caribe led after each day of racing, Enrique Torruella's Melges 24 Don Q Limon from Puerto Rico insisted on giving the team a run for its money. Winning today's first of three races, Don Q's future looked hopeful, but Caribe's two bullets in a 2-1-1 scoreline sewed it up "The key was having super starts all the time," said Bus.

Flirt, a custom 49-foot Oyster yacht skippered by Richard Matthews (GBR), turned in four victories over seven races to win Spinnaker Racing Class 1. Serving as tactician was Andy Green (Essex, UK), tactician for the recent GBR Challenge for the America's Cup. "We made very few mistakes," said Green.

Two different Puerto Rico catamaran sailors named Enrique Figueroa returned to defend their respective Beach Cat class titles. The first, a three-time world champion and his country's representative to the 2000 Olympic Games, won the spinnaker division aboard Movie Star/Suzuki with five victories over seven races and a nearly untouchable position going into today's final three races. "This was one of our best Rolex regattas in a few years," said Figueroa, who also will sail at the Pan Am Games for his country in August. "It was very challenging and lots of good fun sailing against a new group of teams that shipped over from the U.S." In non-spinnaker class, the other Figueroa, sailing Exodus/Ensysa, was leading his fleet by only a point going into today, but three victories in as many races launched him to the top of the leaderboard.

Another defending champion Nemesis, skippered by Puerto Rico's Edwin Romeo, made huge gains today to top the Jib and Main Class.

Turning in a perfect series score of seven with seven wins was Orion/Coors Light, skippered by Puerto Rico's Fraito Lugo in J/24 class. Lugo, who last year won sailing a Melges 24, said the conditions and competition made his seemingly easy victory a challenge.

Another flawless performance was turned in by London's Craig Dymock aboard Serendip in Non-Spinnaker Racing Class, which completed five races.

Equation, an Andrews 68 skippered by Bill Alcott of Detroit, Mich., broke its tie with Donnybrook, a custom 72 skippered by Jim Muldoon of Washington, DC, after a single race today in the Over 50 Foot Class. Donnybrook's early lead was overtaken when Equation sneaked inside her at the first leeward mark. Needing only to beat Donnybrook by 14 seconds based on the rating rule that applied, Equation stretched the victory margin to two minutes by the end of the race. A chance for redemption in a second race was pre-empted by a mishap in which Donnybrook's bowman was injured and transported to shore. Alcott credited his success to his crew, in particular tactician Stu Argo, who served as trimmer for Oracle's America's Cup campaign.

Tortola's Peter Haycraft, aboard Pipe Dream in Spinnaker Racer/Cruiser Class, was in second going into today but pulled ahead of John Schultheiss' Tortola entry Cold Beer in overall results after three races.

In the IC24 class, early leader John Holmberg (St. Thomas) aboard Stinger fell to fourth overall today, allowing 14-year-old Taylor Canfield (St. Thomas), skippering Boat Drinks, to make a strong play for a class win and the Rolex watch. A tie in overall scoring, however, with Green Boat's Carlos Aquilar, had to be broken in favor of Aquilar.

Full Results are available on the event website below:
Berby MacGowan
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