• International Rolex Regatta

    International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta
  • International Rolex Regatta

Rigorous preparation, single-minded determination, superlative timing

International Rolex Regatta weekend in the U.S. Virgin Islands is a high point for many yachtsmen and yachtswomen from around the world. Known as the "Crown Jewel of the Caribbean" it represents an opportunity to shake off the winter dust in preparation for a hard summer’s racing. For others, it is a chance to mix sailing and racing with a family vacation in one of the Caribbean’s favorite locations. Whatever the reason, once experienced, the International Rolex Regatta becomes an annual mark on the calendar. The warm clear waters, beautiful surroundings and excellent competition draw you back year after year.

Day One

Opening day of the International Rolex Regatta served up fast and furious fun for some, broken boats for others when 15-18 knot breezes whipped up a testing chop on the Caribbean Sea south of St Thomas.

The event, which has been a staple of the islands racing scene for 34 years, is hosting 87 boats in seven classes. For five of the six handicap classes that completed three around-the-buoys races each, the event is half over, and leads may be tough to topple with only three distance races left on the weekend schedule.

"It was lovely and lively," said local sailor John Foster, currently in third overall in Spinnaker Racing Class 3 with his Kirby 25 The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. "The first wave over the deck woke everybody up". Foster explained that driving the boat through the waves rather than hitting them square on was as paramount today as consistent sailing will be to winning the series.

International Rolex Regatta
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International Rolex Regatta


"You’ve got to be in the top three in each race to win this series," he said. Foster should know; he has sailed in every Rolex regatta since its inception in 1974 and has won too many to remember. His top-three theory bodes well for class leader Doug Baker, who posted three victories in day one aboard his Olson 30 J Bird 4.

Triple-header victories also put the Melges 24 Devil 3, skippered by Chris Stantos, at the top of the scoreboard in Spinnaker Racing Class 2. "It was fun, but you had to work really hard," said Stanton’s brother and tactician Peter. "There was a lot of pain." The battle for superiority in this class among Melges 24s and the newer Melges 32 designs was fierce. "The 32s go over the waves; we have to go through them," said Peter Stanton. "If they get ahead of us, we can’t challenge them, so we have to follow them".

"Though some boats had a tough time and had some injuries, it was superb sailing conditions," said Wilmot, crew member aboard defending champion Martin Jacobsen’s Crescendo. "We had a few new people aboard, so it took a while to get ourselves together, but this is my second time here, and it’s one of the best places to sail".

International Rolex Regatta
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International Rolex Regatta


Day two

Cruise ships against the backdrop of St Thomas’ dramatic hills created a spectacular canvas for the second day 10-mile Harbor Course race at the International Rolex Regatta. Colorful spinnakers helped rushed 87 boats from a start off the east end of St Thomas, where the 34-year-old event is hosted by St Thomas Yacht Club, to the bustling downtown waterfront of Charlotte Amalie.

After a finish inside the harbor, the fleet - including three spinnaker racing classes and a class each for spinnaker cruising, non-spinnaker, one-design IC-24s and Beach Cats - started a race in the reverse direction and returned to its starting point. The excursion to town was quickened by a steady 13-15 knot easterly breeze that gave the sailors a comfortable off-the-wind course for most of the way, while the 12-mile trip home tested upwind skills on a course that had a hitch out to Buck and Capella Islands for some added dimension.

International Rolex Regatta
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International Rolex Regatta


Day three

"This is one of the best island regattas because of the venue, the course selection, and the winds," said defending champion Martin Jacobson, whose Swan 44 Crescendo won on the third day Pillsbury Sound distance race and added the victory to three others in his six-race series to secure victory in the Spinnaker Racing Cruising class.

"It’s why we come back". Jacobson’s class, along with four others on the Ocean Circle, sailed three windward/leeward courses on opening day and two middle-distance races on the second day. The third day’s race, was a navigator’s delight, totaled 21 miles and took about three hours for Crescendo to complete.

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