March 12, 2003 — The competition in the beach catamarans at the International Rolex Cup will be even tougher this year. Enrique Figueroa of Puerto Rico (multiple Rolex winner and PR Olympic sailor) will face off against Terry Jackson of St. Thomas in the Olympic Class Tornado catamaran. But they will not just face the usual fierce Caribbean competition. The 30th International Rolex Regatta, March 28 to 30, will find its catamaran roster dramatically expanded by eight to 10 U.S. teams that will be competing in the event for the first time. The teams have impressive credentials and are led by the husband-wife team of Jay and Pease Glaser (Long Beach, Calif.), who will be sailing a Nacra F 18.
The Glasers have gained sailing notoriety both together and individually. Together, they are three-time Tornado North American Champions; individually, they are Olympic medalists. Jay won a silver medal in 1984 as crew for Randy Smyth in the Tornado class, and Pease won a silver medal in 2000 as crew for JJ Isler in the 470 class. Pease then went on to be named the 2000 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year.
"Because of the great location and the reputation it has for mixing good competition with great fun, the International Rolex Regatta is something we've always wanted to do," said Pease, who will steer and believes it will be a unique challenge to face stiff Caribbean competition while fending off her U.S. compatriots.
A usual face will be missing from the catamaran class as former class winner John Holmberg will be racing in the locally developed IC-24 class this Rolex.
The big guns coming with the U.S. group are two-time Worrell 1000 Champions Brian Lambert (Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.) and Jamie Livingston (Miami), sailing an Inter 20, and two-time Nacra 6.0 North American Champions Rick Bliss (Mansfield, Mass.) and Brandy Woods (Littleton, Mass.), sailing a Nacra 6.0. But no one has the Caribbean sailing experience of Puerto Rico's 2004 Olympic Tornado team of Figueroa (San Juan) and Jorge Hernandez (San Juan).
Twice a Hobie 14 World Champion and once a Hobie 16 World Champion, Figueroa also has won seven national Hobie Cat class titles. Figueroa, a defending champion, has sailed in the International Rolex Regatta 13 out of the last 14 times, missing the year 2000 for Olympic competition.
"The expanded fleet, with this caliber of competition, will be excellent for our training," Figueroa said. "We will have the gear on our Olympic Tornado prepared to go faster than ever, as we will be getting ready for the Tornado Worlds in September, where we hope to qualify our country for the 2004 Olympic Regatta in Athens."
The International Rolex Regatta attracts monohull boats ranging from 24 to 80 feet. The catamaran class is usually accommodated on the stretch of beach that is the St. Thomas Yacht Club's backyard. This year with the large visiting contingent, a group will also be hosted in the Red Hook area. Tropical Shipping is sponsoring the transportation of the catamarans to the islands.
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