St Thomas wrap up

Action from the recent Rolex regatta in the US Virgin Islands

Saturday April 6th 2002, Author: Barby MacGowan, Location: Caribbean

Don Q duels with Coors Light

On the Monday following the event, the Caribbean tradewinds resumed their normal patterns, piping up early in the morning and holding through until the end of the day. It there was any question about the wind's long-range dependability, it was answered not with words but with the actions of the International Rolex Regatta Organizing Committee, who met to begin planning next year’s event.

In the largest class--Spinnaker Racing Class 2 with 13 boats--Puerto Rico's Efrain Lugo (Ponce), aboard his Melges 24 named Orion, posted a 1-2-1-5-2 to take the class. According to tactician Robbie Ramos (Ponce), this is the seventh time Orion has sailed in this regatta with the same crew. "This was the first time we were not assigned to a one-design class", said Ramos, who explained that in several of the previous regattas, the Orion entry was a J/24. "We may switch back to the J/24 for next year so we can be one-design again, but it was a lot of fun to see how we sailed against other boats under handicap."

The seven-boat J/24 class had an intriguing series to say the least, with a three-way tie for first being broken by college-aged Scott Stanton (St. Croix, USVI), sailing with his twin Peter aboard Jersey Devil. The Stantons have competed with their own boat in this regatta's J/24 class since their early teens and also won their class at this year’s Heineken Regatta in Puerto Rico.

It was no surprise that Puerto Rico's 2004 Olympic representative in the Tornado class, Enrique Figueroa (San Juan, P.R.), a Hobie 16 and Hobie 18 World and National champion, topped the six-boat spinnaker Beach Cats Class 2 with five straight victories aboard his Suzuki Tornado. It was unusually intriguing, however, that another Enrique Figueroa, unrelated but from the same town, topped the 10-boat non-spinnaker Beach Cats Class 1 aboard his Exodus-Sambaigo.

The catamaran sailors had pumped up their entrants in Class 1 this year by arranging special transportation through Tropical Shipping for six Hobie 16s from San Juan. Carlos Gonzales, the skipper of one of the 16s, explained, "We figured that since the world champion Enrique Figueroa had switched to Class 2 for racing with a spinnaker, we all had a chance to win!"

Also expanding their all-St. Thomas fleet (from six to ten) since last year were the IC24s, unique hybrid boats that feature Melges 24-style modifications to a J/24 hull. Chris Rosenberg's five-zip win in the IC-24 class also was no surprise. A local sailor who has won the Rolex four times before (most recently in 2001 aboard a Melges 24), Rosenberg has been instrumental in getting this relatively new class off the ground and says it has boosted club racing in St. Thomas immensely.

A lack of wind held up racing at the start of the regatta

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