ROLEX ST THOMAS – St. Thomas, USVI, It came down to the wire on the last day for winners in three of six classes at the International Rolex Regatta, which began Friday and hosted 68 boats and over 500 sailors representing the U.S., Great Britain, Puerto Rico, Canada, The Netherlands, Russia, Italy, Sweden, Monaco and multiple Caribbean islands. The event, in its 39th year and hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club in the USVI, is the oldest regatta in Rolex’s portfolio of global sailing events, and is considered the “Crown Jewel” of Caribbean regattas.
Today’s tactically demanding Pillsbury Sound races, with courses that wound through the cays of St. Thomas and St. John, decided winners in one IRC and three CSA classes as well as a Beach Cat class, while one-design IC 24s completed six short-course races in Jersey Bay to determine that class’s victor. The races were sailed in picture-perfect conditions, which included plenty of sunshine and 15-knot breezes, which made the overcast skies and intermittent rain showers that prevailed over the last two days but a distant memory.
Peter Cunningham’s (George Town, CAY) 52-foot PowerPlay took overall victory in IRC, where nine boats were competing, and won a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Chronometer as a prize for its excellent performance. The team’s main competition was Willem Wester’s (Breskens, Zeeland, NED) Grand Soleil 46 Antilope (steered by Belgian Olympian Philippe Bergmans) andAshley Wolfe’s (Alberta, Canada) IRC 52 Mayhem, which finished second and third, respectively.
“We were head-to-head with Mayhem the whole regatta, which made it exciting,” said Cunningham, noting that Mayhem’s disqualification in the second race of the series (for a pre-start infraction) and the dismasting of Lord Irvine Laidlaw of Rothiemay’s (MON) IRC 52 Highland Fling XII were unfortunate. “We lost the first race today by one second to Mayhem and Antilope(who corrected out equally and posted 1.5 points each) to finished third. The sailing is so interesting here; you can’t relax even one second or it’s the difference between first and second.”
Volvo Ocean Race veteran Bouwe Bekking (NED), tactician aboard Antilope, was pleased with second, especially since Antilope is a heavier displacement boat than the others, and he conceded that the story might have been different had Mayhem not shown a DSQ in her score line. “They would have had a second in that race, so you can count back and see that they would have done that much better,” said Bekking, “but that’s yacht racing.”
The competition today was unusually close in CSA 1, where Andrea Scarabelli’s (Cole Bay, St. Maarten) Melges 24 Budget Marine/GILL managed to maintain the lead it had established on day one and kept yesterday. It was by a mere half point in final regatta standings, however, that the team prevailed over Magnitude 400, a Farr 400 owned and skippered by Doug Baker (Long Beach, Calif.). The battle of the 40 footers, of which there were four in this class, had been billed as one to watch, but it quickly became clear that the Melges 24 came prepared to win. MORE STORY