Eighth victory for Fraito Lugo
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 had built some good padding into his score line over two days and followed form on the third, today, to win the IC 24 class and a Rolex timepiece (which he presented to his trimmer Milton Gonzalesz) as proof of his team's prowess shown over 17 races. Lugo now can claim eight International Rolex Regatta victories in a variety of classes, but he remained "in the moment" back at the St Thomas Yacht Club, where a magnificent stage - built over the water while the sailors were out racing - seemed to magically appear in time for the awards ceremony for the nearly 70 teams competing.
"We feel so happy," said Lugo on behalf of his Orion team, which wound up with 59 points to beat out Colin Rathbun's Lime, with 76 points. "After the first three races today (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 today, and that was the difference."
The IC 24s, hybrid one-designs that combine a J/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/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.
"This year we arranged for some races to snug up next to St. John, so competitors could expand their horizons and our sister island could share in some of the excitement of seeing the spectacle of the fleet racing," said Regatta Co-Chair John Sweeney. "For the same reasons, we had the IC 24s racing off the beachfront at the Ritz Hotel on Saturday, and later that night, hundreds of sailors, organizers, volunteers and townspeople took part in a giant reggae music concert and food festival at Yacht Haven Grande, where some of the event's larger boats are berthed. All to say, everyone really enjoyed getting around to different places on the island and out on the water."
The battle in Spinnaker Racing 2 Class that had been set up yesterday between Chris Stanton's Melges 24 Devil 3, and Dave West's 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, the first of two races today 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. "Then it was whoever-beat-whom in the second race for determining who would win (the regatta)," said Stanton, explaining that the Pillsbury Course they next sailed took almost 3.5 hours to complete and was full of decisions to make, due to current, wind holes and shifts. "We worked the boat as much as we could, and when we did a time check about halfway through, we were neck-and-neck with Jurakan. A lot of good things happened to us, and three quarters of the way through the race we realised we were four minutes ahead (on corrected time)." As for final finish positions in that race, Devil 3, posted a victory while Jurakan claimed a fourth, sealing the deal for Devil 3.
In IRC class, Richard Oland's Vela Veloce, with Brian Ledbetter driving, posted a final score of 13 points to beat out Austin and Gwen Fragomen's Interlodge. "In the first race, when we got a first, Interlodge got a fourth," said Oland, "and in the second race we were leading most of the way, but they passed us (for a fourth to Interlodge's third)." 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. "I already have a Rolex watch, but this one is better," he added with a grin, after the awards presentation. 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/leeward racing he is used to doing.
The fourth winner of a Rolex timepiece was James Dobbs' J/122 Lost Horizon in Spinnaker Racing/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. "I've sailed against them before, and they are serious about racing, as we are."
Antonio Sanpere's J/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/Spirit of Isis, skippered by Luiz Gonsalves, beat out Kialoa V in overall scoring in CSA Spinnaker Racing 1 class, while John Holmberg's Hobie 16 Time Out prevailed to win the Beach Cat class.
Place, Boat Name, Boat Type, Length, Skipper, Hometown, Finish Postions, Total Points
IC 24 (One Design - 14 Boats)
1. Orion, IC 24, Fraito Lugo, Ponce, PR, USA - 2, 3, 2, 1, 4, 4, 5, 1, 9, 7, 1, 2, 2, 1, 6, 8, 1, ; 59
2. LIME, IC 24, Colin Rathbun, Road Town, Tortola, BVI - 10, 6, 1, 5, 8, 2, 6, 5, 1, 1, 3, 5, 4, 4, 3, 10, 2, ; 76
3. Brand-New Secondhand, IC 24, Christopher Curreri, St Thomas, VI, USA - 6, 2, 4, 3, 9, 7, 4, 8, 2, 4, 8, 10, 7, 2, 4, 3, 10, ; 93
Spinnaker Racing 1 (CSA - 2 Boats)
1. Spirit of Isis, Farr 65, Elizabeth Brookes, Falmouth Harbour, Antigua, WI - 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 6
2. Kialoa V, Frers 80, Freddie Mills, Lake Placid, NY, USA - 3/DNF, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, ; 13
Spinnaker Racing 2 (CSA - 11 Boats)
1. Devil 3, Melges 24, Chris Stanton, Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI - 1, 2, 1, 2, 2, 1, ; 9
2. Jurakan, Melges 32, Dave West, Road Town, Tortola, BVI - 2, 1, 4, 1, 1, 4, ; 13
3. Rushin Rowlette, Olson 30, Kevin Rowlette, Tortola, UK - 7, 4, 3, 4, 6, 2, ; 26
Non-Spinnaker Racing (CSA - 9 Boats)
1. Cayennita Grande, J 36, Antonio Sanpere, Christiansted, VI, USA - 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 5
2. SAGA I, Frers F36, Gerd Petersen, Pembroke Pines, FL, USA - 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, ; 10
3. Meltemi, Kirby 25, Herve Chassin, St. Thomas, VI, USA - 5, 6, 3, 4, 4, ; 22
Spinnaker Racing/Cruising (CSA - 17 Boats)
1. Lost Horizon, J 122 12.21, James Dobbs, Antigua - 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, ; 8
2. Three Harkoms, Beneteau 442 Oceanic 44.5, James Hudleston, Yarmouth, England - 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 1, ; 14
3. El Ocaso, J 120 40, Rick Wesslund, Miami, FL, USA - 3, 4, 4, 2, 2, 4, ; 19
IRC (IRC - 8 Boats)
1. Vela Veloce, Southern Cross 52, Richard Oland, Rothesay, CAN - 3, 1, 2, 2, 1, 4, ; 13
2. Interlodge, JV 52, Austin/Gwen Fragomen, Newport, RI, USA - 1, 2, 1, 4, 4, 3, ; 15
3. White Heat, Summit 40, Michael Williamson, London, UK - 2, 5, 5, 3, 2, 2, ; 19
Beach Cats (Portsmouth - 5 Boats)
1. Time Out, Hobie 16, John Holmberg, St. Thomas, VI, USA - 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, ; 10
2. Auto Manic, Hobie 16, Chris Schreiber, Christiansted, VI, USA - 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, ; 11
3. Puma, Prindle 19, Jason Siska, St. John, VI, USA - 6/DNS, 6/DNS, 3, 3, 5, 3, 3, ; 29