Connecticut sailor tops Caribbean regatta fleet
A third day of perfect trade winds and pleasant sunshine on March 25 helped wrap up the International Rolex Regatta, where sailors on 87 boats competed in seven classes.
The event, in its 34th year and hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club, is the oldest of the Caribbean’s popular spring racing events, with its unique blend of around-the-buoys and through-the-islands racing mixed with lively local flavor and camaraderie ashore.
“This is one of the best island regattas because of the venue, the course selection, and the winds,” says defending champion Martin Jacobson of Greenwich, Conn., whose Swan 44 Crescendo won the 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 Day 2. The final day’s race, a navigator’s delight, totaled 21 miles and took about three hours for Crescendo to complete.
Straight bullets marked the overall regatta performances of three winning teams, whose skippers were awarded with Rolex Steel Submariner timepieces as prizes.
For Chris Stanton of St. Croix, USVI, who strung his victories together like a perfect pearl necklace in Spinnaker Racing Class 2, the final day’s winds, rather than local knowledge, helped put his Melges 24 Devil 3 ahead.
In the Non-Spinnaker class, which sailed only one race through the islands on opening day to include four races instead of six in its scoreline, it was Christopher Lloyd of Tortola, BVI, and his Beneteau 442 Three Harkoms, who won all the races to easily defend his crown.
Carlo Falcone of Antigua, the winner of Spinnaker Racing Class 1 on his Vallicelli 44 Caccia Alla Volpe, continued focusing on his closest competitor Clive Llewellyn of France aboard the Grand Soleil 48 Mad IV. He finished second to Llewellyn’s first in the final, but it was enough to edge Llewellyn out of first by two points.
The IC-24s, a fleet indigenous to the area, completed 13 races in their series, using this final day to complete five windward-leeward races on a separate racecourse instead of participating in the Pillsbury Sound race. Tied on point scores were Mio Broadband’s Robby and Michael Hirst of Tortola, BVI; and Orion’s Fraito Lugo of Ponce, P.R., with the tie-breaker going to Mio Broadband.
Enrique Figueroa and crew Jorge Hernandez, two names synonymous with Olympic sailing, easily won the final race and the Beach Cats class overall with their 20-foot Tornado Suzuki/Red Bull. The duo, which represented Puerto Rico in the Tornado class at the Athens Games and hopes to do so again at Quingdao in 2008, blew away their competition, but it was expected. Figueroa, either with is wife Carla or with Hernandez, has won this regatta at least a dozen times. www.rolexcupregatta.com
Soundings launches Bermuda Bound blog
Soundings has launched a new blog, Bermuda Bound, in which senior writer Doug Campbell will chronicle his first Bermuda One-Two Yacht Race.
Campbell is competing in the biennial Bermuda One-Two aboard his Westsail 32, Robin. The regular blog postings will follow his planning, preparation and ultimately his voyage. Readers can link to the blog from the magazine’s Web site, www.soundingsonline.com .
Campbell hopes his blog will serve two purposes: to open a window for those who have dreamed of doing the Bermuda One-Two — showing what is involved in making it to the starting line — and to invite others to share their own offshore experiences and advice. The single-handed leg from Newport, R.I., to St. George’s starts June 9. The double-handed leg back to Newport starts June 22.
Campbell is the winner of four Boating Writers International awards. Before coming to Soundings, he spent 25 years as a staff writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, where his writing was nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes. He has been sailing for about 25 years, and is a founder and first president of the Delaware RiverSailingSchool in Edgewater Park, N.J., a charitable, non-profit, community-based sailing program.