March 28, 2002 – This year's stand-alone Rolex Regatta, newly independent of the Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle, has attracted an international fleet of 78 boats that will race in 12 classes, including the locally popular new IC-24 class, a hybrid of a J/24 and a Melges 24 home grown in the Virgin Islands.
The competition, hosted by the St. Thomas Yacht Club, opens Friday. The forecast is for light air over the next three days
"We'll deal with it as we have to," the event's new principal race officer, Peter Reggio, said Thursday, after the lack of air forced cancellation of a pre-regatta event, the inaugural USVI Governor's Race. The race trophies instead will be awarded to the winners of the official first day of Rolex racing. Only two races in the history of the Rolex have been canceled due to light air.
Boats with local track records to watch this weekend include:
– Tortola entry Mermaid II, Bill Berardelli's Custom 40, which was the top winner overall in the first and second CORT contests — the St. Croix International Regatta in February and the Heineken International Regatta in Puerto Rico two weeks ago. (The series will conclude with the BVI Spring Regatta April 5-7 on Berardelli's home surf.)
– St. Thomas entry Magnificent 7, Rolex veteran John Foster's J/27, which finished third overall in the St. Croix regatta and second in class in the Heineken contest.
– St. Croix entry Jersey Devil, Scott and Peter Stanton's J/24, which won its class in the Heineken Regatta.
The Rolex field includes 10 boats racing in the newe IC-24 Class, seven in the Melges 24-J/80 Class, seven in the J/24 Class, three in the Racing Over 50 Foot Class, seven in the Spinnaker Racing Class 1, seven in the Spinnaker Racing Class 2, seven in the Spinnaker Racer Cruiser Class 1, six in the Spinnaker Racer Cruiser Class 2, 10 in the Beach Cats Class 1, six in the Beach Cats Class 2, three in the Non-Spinnaker Racing Class, and five in the Fun Class – Jib & Main (no pole).
There are 30 boats competing from St. Thomas (a couple of them with dual homeports), 24 from Puerto Rico, five each from St. Croix and the BVI, two from Antigua and one each from Sint Maarten; Curacao; Caracas, Venezuela: St. Augustine, Fla.; Washington, D.C.; Campton, New Hampshire; St. Claire Shores, Mich.; Herts, Southampton and Spedding, England; Glasgow, Scotland; and Rimini, Italy.
According to a Rolex release prepared for international distribution, "Among the returning favorites are big-boat entrants James Muldoon of Washington, D.C., with his Custom 73 turbo sled Donnybrook and Puerto Rico's Tom Hill, who brings his new Titan XI, also a sled (an Andrews 70) to the mix. Bill Alcott's Equation, a Santa Cruz 68, which he says may have difficulty keeping up with the others, may still be one to watch. Alcott, from St. Claire Shores, Michigan, won his class last year at the regatta with this boat."
The release quotes Alcott as saying of last year's win, "I got lucky. The other big boats started messing around with each other, and I just did my own thing. You have to consider that my boat was built to sail to class rules, and the sleds were not. They have 40 percent more sail area than I do, so I know what I'm up against."
For this year's running of the Rolex, an impressive number of local sailors who were competing in the early years are still at the wheel. Among them: Foster, Dick Johnson, Bill Canfield, Lyn Reid, Nick Bailey, Chris Rosenberg, Mike Williams and John Holmberg from St. Thomas; and Hill from Puerto Rico.
"Revered for its keen racing and a festive atmosphere, the International Rolex Regatta is celebrating its 29th year as an Easter weekend racing tradition in the Virgin Islands," the Rolex release states. "The Governor's Race was added as one of several enhancements to the regatta, which also includes an expanded social schedule that interfaces more closely with the island's community."
The top winner in each of the 12 classes will receive a Rolex watch at an awards ceremony to follow the third day of racing — Sunday, if all goes well.
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