March 28, 2003 – Winds blowing a light but steady 6 to 10 knots and building through the day proved enough to get racing under way at the 30th annual International Rolex Regatta hosted by the St. Thomas Yacht Club.
In the first day of competition, 97 boats in 10 classes, ranging from a Custom 72-footer helmed by perennial Rolex presence James Muldoon of Washington, D.C., to several Hobie 16 beach cats from Puerto Rico, completed three races over windward-leeward courses.
There were jump-the-gun and razor-sharp starts; some bumper-car mark roundings and David-and-Goliath scenes as beach cats rounded with yachts four times their size; and finishes by a nose and an arm and a leg. At the end of the day, the international judges had their work cut out, as there were a slew of protests.
"Red, as in protest flags, was the color of the day," said the B.V.I.'s John Schultheiss, who sailed his Tartan 10 Cold Beer.
The beach cat fleet proved one of the most interesting. Sparring on the course with hot local Caribbean talent was a contingent of U.S. mainland sailors led by Olympic medalists and husband-and-wife team Jay and Pease Glaser of Long Beach, California.
"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," Pease Glaser said.
On the race course, Pease added, "the Tornados were among our stiffest competition."
Puerto Rico's Enrique Figueroa and St. Thomas's Terry Jackson were the two Tornado sailors, both looking to earn slots in this class for the 2004 Summer Olympics.
The local IC-24 class also provided some keen competition, especially for St. Thomas's John Holmberg, who traditionally has sailed a beach cat.
"Our Inter 20 fleet kind of died. I think it's too high tech of a boat for the islands," Holmberg said. "So, five months ago I decided to put a team together and go for the IC-24. Primarily this was because I like to race, and the IC's race all the time. It's a fleet of one-design boats. There's no handicap, no arguing about the ratings."
As for Friday's competition, Holmberg commented afterward: "We got progressively worse; that's the bottom line. As the day went on, the kids like Taylor Canfield and Cy Thompson, who were skippering two of the other IC's, seemed to get stronger. They were right around our ears. It was very close, less than a boat length apart. That's what its all about."
International Rolex Regatta Top Three Results in Each Class – Day One
Racing – Over 50 Ft. (2 entries)
1. Donnybrook, Custom 72, James Muldoon, Washington, DC, USA, 4 pts.
2. Equation, Andrews 68, Bill Alcott, Detroit, Mich., USA, 5 pts.
Spinnaker Racing 1 (13 boats)
1. Flirt, Custom 49, Richard Matthews, Ipswich, UK, 3 pts.
2. NOA X-Base, IMX45, Soren Holst Thomsen, Palma de Mallorca, ESP, 7 pts.
3. Caccia Alla Volpe, Custom 44, Carlo Falcone, Antigua, 10 pts.
Spinnaker Racing 2 (10 boats)
1. 2 Contact Carib, Melges 24, Frits Bus, Phillipsburg, St. Maarten, 4 pts.
2. Slam, Melges 24, Robbie Ferron, St. Maarten, AHO, 6 pts.
3. Don Q Limon, Melges 24, Enrique Torruella, Guaynabo, PUR, 9 pts.
Spinnaker Racer/Cruiser (16 boats)
1. Cold Beer 3, Tartan Ten, John Schultheiss, Tortola, BVI, 4 pts.
2. Pipe Dream, Sirena 38, Peter Haycraft, Tortola, BVI, 5 pts.
3. Dehlerious, Dehler 34, Bungie Flynn, Tortola, BVI, 10 pts.
Non-Spinnaker Racing (7)
1. Serendip, Prima 38, Craig Dymock , London, UK, 2 pts.
2. Wildflower, Sabre 402, Ron Noonan, Marion, Mass., USA, 4 pts.
3. Igoodia, Jeanneau 52.2, Milt Baehr, Incline Village, Calif, USA, 8 pts.
Jib and Main (8 boats)
1. Nemesis, Hunter 42, Edwin Romeo, Fajardo, PUR, 4 pts.
2. Far Cry, Clipper 31, Herve Chassin, St. Thomas, USVI, 7 pts.
Trial Cat (1 boat)
1. Cover Shot, Cstm 33, Roger Webb, Miami, Fla., 3 pts.
Beach Cats Spinnaker (7 boats)
1. Movie Star/Suzuki, Olympic Tornado, Enrique Figueroa, San Juan, PUR, 3 pts.
2. Yellow, Nacra 6.0, Richard Bliss, Mansfield, Mass., USA, 4 pts.
3. Century 21, Terry Jackson, Olympic Tornado, St. Thomas, USVI, 5 pts.
Beach Cats – Non-Spinnaker (14 boats)
1. Exodus/Ensysa, Hobie 16, Enrique Figueroa, San Juan, PUR, 7 pts.
2. Lolo Too, Hobie 16, Anton Guernica, San Juan, PUR, 7 pts.
IC24 (13 boats)
1. Stinger, IC24, John Holmberg, St. Thomas, USVI, 7 pts.
2. Green Boat, IC24, Carlos Aquilar, St. Thomas, USVI, 7 pts.
J/24 (6 boats)
1. Orion/Coors Light, J/24, Fraito Lugo, Ponce, PUR, 3 pts.
2. Tax Return, J/24, Carlos Feliciano, Caguas, PUR, 8 pts.
3. XX-TU, J/24, Juan Jose Mari,, San Juan, PUR, 9 pts.
For more information check the Rolex Regatta Web site. You can access nearly a hundred photos taken on the water Friday by clicking on the "Images 2003" prompt in the center of the main page.
Day 2 racing is to get under way at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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