Yesterday's 16-mile race in brisk 14-knot winds marked the midpoint in the 2003 International Rolex Regatta and added some drama to the three-day event where 97 boats are competing in 11 classes.
The J/29 Matador from St. Thomas lost its rig and the Farr 65 Spirit of Juno from the UK ran hard aground while snaking its way through the offshore cays surrounding the island of St. Thomas.
"It was just an unfortunate accident," said Spirit of Juno crewmember Anita Tullett (Limpsfield, UK), who explained that the sudden jolt from the grounding resulted in minor injuries to two of the 14 crewmembers. "We thought we had plenty of water."
The day went much better for Orion, skippered by Puerto Rico's Fraito Lugo. Lugo, who last year won his class here sailing a Melges 24, posted his fourth consecutive victory in as many races for the J/24 class. "This was the best day," said Lugo, who recently qualified in the J/24 class to represent Puerto Rico at the Pan Am Games. "We were just sailing so far ahead of everyone, but yesterday in one race we won by only three seconds."
San Juan's World Champion and representative for the 2004 Olympics, Enrique Figueroa, also has won his fourth consecutive race to maintain his lead in the Beach Cat spinnaker class. He sails Movie Star/Suzuki.
Fellow countryman Enrique Torruella, skippering the Melges 24 Don Q Limon, also won his class (Spinnaker Racing Class 2) today, but not so handily. "We changed leads with 2 Contact Carib two or three times. Several races tomorrow will be good to help us pull ahead." 2 Contact Carib, also a Melges 24, finished third today and leads overall with four points over Don Q Limon.
Though there are only two boats racing in the over-50 foot Class, the competition has been keen. After four races, Donnybrook, a custom 72 skippered by Jim Muldoon of Washington, DC, is tied with Equation, an Andrews 68 skippered by Bill Alcott of Detroit, Mich. "Our loss today was in part due to a bad spinnaker takedown that took us well beyond our turning mark," said Donnybrook tactician Will Keyworth (Annapolis, Md.). "Also, Equation had a #3 jib up compared to our heavy #1, which really paid off in the heavier breeze."
While the 50 footers were stocked with veteran sailors, the IC24 class showcased some promising up-and-coming junior sailors, including the 14-year-old Taylor Canfield, skippering Boat Drinks. Though finishing a respectable third in today's race, the stiff winds and long-distance sailing fully tested his crew's mettle. "We're right at the minimum weight limit of 750 pounds, with two adults, a teen and two juniors aboard. We could use less wind tomorrow." Still leading that class with a victory today is John Holmberg aboard Stinger.
Racing concludes today with the presentation of Rolex watches to winners in each class.