Last year he lost this event in the final races on the last day, but this year at the 37th International Rolex Regatta, Puerto Rico's Fraito Lugo claimed his eighth victory in a variety of classes.
Having built some good padding into his score line over two days and followed form on the third, he went on to win the IC 24 class and a Rolex timepiece (which he awarded to his trimmer Milton Gonzalesz) as proof of his team's prowess shown over 17 races.
Lugo remained "in the moment" back at the St. Thomas Yacht Club,
"We feel so happy," said Lugo on behalf of his Orion team, which wound up with 59 points to beat Colin Rathbun
(IVB) Lime, with 76 points.
"After the first three races (with finish positions of 2-2-1), we knew we were clear to win. Our plan was to have no fouls and sail consistently. We had very good speed, and that was the difference."
The IC 24s, hybrid one-designs that combine a J and 24's body with a Melges 24-style cockpit, continued with short round-the-buoy races after the event's opening "town races" on Friday, while their counterparts in six other classes (IRC, Spinnaker Racing 1 and 2, Non-Spinnaker Racing, Spinnaker Racing and Cruising and Beach Cats) took to the more scenic winding courses through and around the cuts, cays and islands off the east end of St. Thomas, USVI, where host St. Thomas Yacht Club is located.
The battle in Spinnaker Racing 2 Class that had been set up between Chris Stanton's (ISV) Melges 24 Devil 3, and Dave West's (IVB) Melges 32 Jurakan ended with the former team beating out the latter by four points in overall scoring. According to Stanton's brother Peter, his tactician and jib trimmer (who accepted the Rolex timepiece), the first of two races on the final day was short enough that "no one could get away." In fact, the first eight boats in the class were within just over a minute of each other at the finish, but Jurakan took the race victory over second-place Devil 3, beating them by 20 seconds on corrected time.
In the IRC class, Richard Oland's (USA) Vela Veloce, with Brian Ledbetter
driving, posted a final score of 13 points to beat Austin Fragomen
and Gwendolyn Fragomen
(USA) in Interlodge. " In the end the point spread was only by two points, indicative of the tight battle the two 52-footers had been having all weekend.
"It's pleasing to come from Canada to the Islands and be up against these world players," said Oland about his first-ever experience racing at the International Rolex Regatta. Ledbetter, who won an Olympic silver medal in the Finn class at the 1992 Olympics, called the three days of racing "magical" compared to the windward and leeward racing he is used to doing.
The fourth winner of a Rolex timepiece was James Dobbs' (ANT) J and 122 Lost Horizon in Spinnaker Racing and Cruising Class. "I knew which boats had a chance of winning before the race," he said, referring to a tight group at the top of the scoreboard that included second-place finisher Three Harkoms, a Beneteau 442 skippered by James Hudleston (GBR). "I've sailed against them before, and they are serious about racing, as we are."
Antonio Sanpere's (USA) J and 36 Cayennita Grande finished out his Non-Spinnaker Racing series with an unbeatable string of five victories in as many races. The Farr 65 Team On-Deck and Spirit of Isis (ANT), skippered by Luiz Gonsalves, beat out Kialoa V in overall scoring in CSA Spinnaker Racing 1 class, while John Holmberg's (ISV) Hobie 16 Time Out prevailed to win the Beach Cat class.
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