Racing starts in St Thomas

Barby MacGowan previews the International Rolex Regatta

Friday March 26th 2004, Author: Barby MacGowan, Location: Caribbean
Personalities at the 31st annual International Rolex Regatta in St. Thomas, USVI, are proving to be as colorful as rainbow spinnakers against an azure blue sky. With racing at the three-day event starting today, 26 March, and continuing through until the weekend, hundreds of sailors registered on 91 boats have prepared for the regatta's traditional mix of tough competition, warm Caribbean breezes and blue-water courses.

Crew rosters are sprinkled with high-profile names from the America's Cup and Olympic arenas, as well as those famous in these Caribbean parts for their own notable accomplishments.

"I've sailed all over the world," said Geordie Shaver, the bowman on BMW Oracle Racing during the last America's Cup, "but I've never raced here, so it's going to be a real treat." Shaver, from Newport, R.I., is taking his turn as bowman on the Farr 65 Team Atlantic, skippered by Bill Dockser. The boat is entered in the Spinnaker Racer/Cruiser Class 1 and will compete against eight others, including Igoodia, a Jeanneau 52.2 that won its class at the recent Heineken Regatta and was named most worthy boat in that event's 'round-the-island race.

Another America's Cup notable, Josh Belsky, will also transfer his skills - as pit man for Alinghi - to the position of pit man for Tom Hill's Puerto Rican entry, Titan XII, in the Spinnaker Racing (Over 50 ft) Class. The Reichel/Pugh 75 also will have onboard Peter Holmberg, the Commodore of the St. Thomas Yacht Club who is not only an America's Cup veteran, but also an Olympic medallist and past Rolex Regatta winner.

The Over 50 foot Class will have seven boats competing, including past favorites Equation, an Andrews 68 owned by Bill Alcott and the custom 72 Donnybrook, owned by Jim Muldoon. Added to the class mix this year will be Richard Matthew's Corby 50 Flirt, which won its class last year at this event; Raincloud, a J/145 48-footer owned by New Yorker David Leuschen; the custom 44-footer Storm, owned by Les Crouch and Rosebud, Reichel/Pugh Transpac 52 owned by Roger Sturgeon.

Headlining in the Beach Cat division is Puerto Rico's designated 2004 Olympic Tornado team and defending champions Enrique Figueroa and Jorge Hernandez. The duo, known as Team Movistar/Suzuki/Red Bull, decided to sail a Hobie Tiger and which Figueroa, the Hobie dealer in Puerto Rico, is trying to promote in the islands. "It is very much faster than a regular Hobie 18 and more like our Olympic Tornado." Figueroa explained that a Portsmouth Handicap system will keep them honest, however, when it comes to matching up with the other catamarans in their class.

The fun is not all reserved for the top-end racers. Plenty of cruising boats are signed up, one of them a J/30 named Zing built in 1979 and owned by native St Thomian Chris Thompson, whose father, Rudy Thompson, represented the USVI in the Flying Dutchman class at the 1967 Olympics. According to Chris, who has sailed in the event for 20 years and wears one of the three Rolex's he and his father have won here, the regatta isn't necessarily about racing with hot equipment.

"It's about sailing with friends and doing the best you can with what you've got." Chris just took ownership of Zing and will sail in the Non-Spinnaker Racing division with his father, now 75 years old, as one of his crew. Zing's class will sail separate courses from the Spinnaker Racing divisions.

Having their own race circle for the first time will be the IC24s, which have exploded growth-wise in the Caribbean. Introduced to the regatta in 2001, the boat is a hybrid design, constructed from an old J/24 hull with a new deck mold similar to the Melges 24. The result is a yacht that is relatively high-performance, very inexpensive and more comfortable to sail than a J/24. The IC24 class will be packed with local talent, including the class's founder and four-time Rolex winner in the Melges 24 class Chris Rosenberg aboard Old and Gray.

Line up

Yacht Owner Hometown Type
7 Mark Chong St. Thomas VI USA Prindle 19
Caribbean Auto Mart Tom Ainger Christiansted VI USA Inter 20
Exodus / Ensysa Enrique Figueroa PR USA Hobie Cat 16
HF Mortgage Bankers Ibrahim Mustafa San Juan PR USA Hobie Tiger
LoLo Too Anton Guernica San Juan PR USA Hobie Cat 16
Love Never Fails M.Bruce Andryc Christiansted St. Croix USA Inter 17
Movistar/Suzuki/Red Bull Enrique Figueroa San Juan PR USA Hobie Tiger
Rush Bruce Merced VI USA Prindle 19 MX
War Barefoot Architect Inter 20
Waterfit Dennys Junco Carolina PR USA Hobie Cat 16
Wow D. Murray / S. Korzeniewski St. Thomas VI USA Hobie Cat 16
Yuisa Rosarito Martinez Carolina PR Hobie Cat 16
Class: IC-24
Yacht Owner Hometown Type
Boat Drinks Canfield / Nichols St. Thomas USVI USA IC-24
Brand New Second Hand Christopher Curreri St. Thomas VI USA IC-24
Fiona Frederick W Ruebeck Roadtown Tortola BVI IC-24 Frank Barnes/Elizabeth Masiello st thomas VI IC-24
No Expectations Amerling / Miles St. Thomas VI USA IC-24
Old & Gray Chris Rosenberg St. Thomas VI USA IC-24
Red Dog S. King / J. Rosenberg / M. Williams St. Thomas VI USA IC-24
Seahawk Robert / Michael Hirst Road Town Tortola BVI IC-24
Stinger John Holmberg IC-24
Crowley Simon Manley IC-24
Tingum Garry Turpin St. Thomas VI USA IC-24
One Love Paul Stoeken St. Thomas VI USA IC-24
XX Newbold / Bailey St. Thomas VI USA IC-24
Voila Trach Roberts St. Thomas U.S.V.I. IC-24
Class: J-24
Yacht Owner Hometown Type
El Shaddai II Jeff Fangmann Christiansted St. Croix USA J-24
KQ-LO Jose M. Fullana Hernandez San Juan PR USA J-24
Orion / Coors Light Fraito Lugo J-24
San Patricio MRI & CT Center Carlos Feliciano Sanchez Caguas PR USA J-24
Urayo Gilberto Rivera Morales Guaynabo PR USA J-24
XX Tu Juan Jose Mari Agustini J-24
Class: Spinnaker Racing ("Over 50 ft")
Yacht Owner Hometown Type
Titan Tom Hill San Juan PR P.R. R/P 75
Equation Bill Alcott St Clair Shores MI USA Andrews
Donnybrook James P. Muldoon Washington DC USA Custom
Rosebud Roger Sturgeon Santa Cruz CA USA Trans Pac 52
Flirt R. Matthews / J. Alvarez Ipswich Suffolk UK Corby One Off
Raincloud David Leuschen New York NY USA J-145
Storm Les Crouch Henderson Nevada  USA SOCA Sailboats 44
Class: Spinnaker Racing 1
Yacht Owner Hometown Type
Caccia Alla Volpe Carlo Falcone Antigua Vallicelli Sloop
Soca Luis Juarche San Juan PR USA Henderson
Cosmic Warlord Mick Shlens Palos Verdes Estates CA USA Express
Umakua Julio Reguero San Juan P.R. USA J-105
Uncle Sam Sam Laing St. Thomas VI USA Ben 10 Meter Cust.
Sorceress Paul Lordi Christiansted St. Croix USA Tartan 10
Rhumb Squall Thomas Mullen CAMPTON NH USA Antrim 27
Abracadabra Calos A Camacho Guaynabo Puerto Rico USA J-105
Class: Spinnaker Racing 2
Yacht Owner Hometown Type
J-Bird Dave Janes Newport Beach CA USA Olson 30
2ContactCarib2 Frits Bus/Peter Hout Melges 24
Crew Clothing Andrew Thompson / Peter Tarn Melges 24
Don Q Limon Enrique J. Torruella Guaynabo Puerto Rico USA Melges 24
Dr. Lightning Jorge Torres Melges 24
Ming The Merciless Richard Burks St. John USVI USA Melges 24
Mistress Quickly Orangeplan Ltd./Guy Eldridge Road Town Tortola BVI Melges 24
Willy T (Rushin Rowlette) Kevin Rowlette Olson 30
KosaLoka Kike Gonzalez Guaynabo PR USA Olson
Lost Horizon II James Dobbs St. Thomas USVI USA Olson
Sun Bum II Angel M. Ayala Carolina P.R. USA J-80
Broken Drum Jack Bishop J-29
Sweetness Peter Clark J-29
Runaway Bruce Pettie Glasglow Scottland Est
Manificent 7 John Foster St. Thomas USVI USA J-27
Class: Spinnaker Racer/Cruiser 1
Yacht Owner Type
Team Atlantic William Dockser Gosport Hampshire UK Farr 65R
Spirit of Minerva Formula 1 Sailing Gosport Hampshire UK Farr 65
Igoodia Milt Baehr Incline Village NV USA Jeanneau 52.2
Great Escape GE Partnership/Phil Munday East Sussex UK Jeanneau Odyssey 52.2
So Far Larry Hillman Swan 48
Lazy Dog Sergio Sagramoso San Juan PR USA Beneteau First 40.7
Wild at Heart John Thompson 80538 Muenchen Germany Jeanneau OD 35
Natural Magic David Cook Hull UK Beneteau First 42s7
Pipe Dream RTW Co. Ltd. Road tOWN Tortola BVI Sirena 38
Class: Spinnaker Racer/Cruiser 2
Yacht Owner Type
Jahazi A. Mc Shea / M. Johnston Sandy UT USA J-120
Tempest John Haracivet St. Thomas VI USA Beneteau First
Avalon Jason Walsh New York NY USA Sloop
Solidarity Andrew W. Piotrowski Chicago IL USA Optima 101 -sloop
Trouble Geoffrey D. Pidduck Falmouth Antigua Six Meter
Dehlerious Bungie Flynn Tortola BVI Dehler
Rodaventos Mariano Ruiz NY NY USA C&C
Class: Non Spinnaker Racing
Yacht Owner Hometown Type
Affinity Jack Desmond Marion MA USA Swan 48
Monhegan Sound Sailing Center Norwalk CT USA J-44
Kracker Jack Michael Bailey Isle of Man GB Olson 40
Add to Life Steve Martin Road Town Tortola BVI Jeanneau I50
Equinoxx Too David Weisher St. Thomas VI USA Kaufman & Ladd
Nemesis Edwin Cruz Romero Hunter 42
Balaju 2 Jose Sanchez carolina PR USA Sloop
Wildflower Ron Noonan Marion MA USA Sabre 402
ATN Marcus Compton St. Thomas VI USA J-27
Keen Edge Keith Keen St. Thomas VI U.S.V.I Formula 28
Zing Chris Thompson St. Thomas VI U.S.V.I J-30
Wiinds Glory Paul Davis St. Thomas vi U.S.V.I Cal
Farcry Herve Chassin Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas U.S.V.I Bombay Clipper

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