March 21, 2006 — With more boats pre-registered than ever before, the 33rd annual International Rolex Regatta is counting down to its first of three days of competition on Friday, March 24. More than 80 boats are signed up to date, with a good number hailing from the U.S. mainland, Canada, England, France, Holland, Ireland, Italy and Switzerland, with the balance coming from St. Thomas, Antigua, Tortola, St. Martin, Puerto Rico and other nearby islands.
"There is always a perfect balance between locals and visiting sailors, big boats and small boats," said Tracy Roberts, who co-directs the regatta with fellow St. Thomas Yacht Club member Colin Probyn. "We still expect our traditional rush of additional entries on Thursday," Roberts said.
The regatta also strikes a balance between exciting competition and extreme fun. As such, it is not only one of the Caribbean's oldest sailing events but also one of the most revered. The event features handicap and one-design racing in a beautiful setting, professional race management, and dependable Caribbean trade winds.
On the social agenda are festive shoreside events, which include unique Caribbean entertainment, such as the Carnival Dancers, and the awarding of the Rolex Prize partnered with a beachside farewell party at the yacht club. With over three decades of history, the tradition of a Rolex watch awarded to every class winner still stands.
Last year's coastal romp from Cowpet Bay (where the St. Thomas Yacht Club is located) to the island's cruise ship port of Charlotte Amalie and back will be repeated. This year the race will be augmented by some IC-24 windward-leeward racing in Charlotte Amalie Harbor. This will undoubtedly show off St. Thomas's beautiful capital to the racers while affording islanders and visitors alike a flavor of competitive sailing, as dozens of racers weave among the 100-foot power yachts anchored in the harbor.
Already, 17 IC-24s are signed up. The boats, indigenous to the area, were developed several years ago from J/24s by a group of St. Thomas sailors. The fleet now attracts the very best in island talent, such as defending Rolex champions Robert and Michael Hirst of Tortola, BVI, who will compete aboard Sea Hawk.
Something about this regatta must be addicting as other returning defending champions are James Dobbs of Antigua, aboard Lost Horizon II in spinnaker racing class; Sergio Sagramoso of San Juan, Puerto Rico, aboard Lazy Dog in spinnaker racer/cruiser class; and Antonio and Ellen Sanpere of Christiansted, St. Croix, aboard Cayennita in non-spinnaker racing class.
In J/24s, six-time Rolex winner Fraito Lugo of Ponce, Puerto Rico, returns aboard Orion, while perennial Beach Cat class favorite Enrique Figueroa — Puerto Rico's multiple world champion and Olympian — plans to defend his title as well aboard Suzuki/Red Bull.
At the other end of the scale is the Over-50-Foot Class for the biggest boats, which include the 73-foot Donnybrook, owned by James Muldoon of Washington, D.C.; the 68-foot Equation, owned by Bill Alcott (Detroit, Mich.); and the maxi sloop Black Shark of St. Petersburg, entered by a group from France.
Live results, provided by Interactive Creations, will be posted on rolexcupreggata.com , where hometown rosters, nightly reports and photos also can be found.
International Rolex Regatta daily video coverage will be available on demand by 9 p.m. each night by clicking on www.t2p.tv.
Rolex also is the title sponsor for the Rolex Antigua Sailing Week, due for its 39th running this year from Sunday, April 30, through Saturday, May 6.
For more information on the International Rolex Regatta, contact co-directors Tracy Roberts (340-777-2345) and Colin Probyn (340-690-3000).
The regatta Web site is where further information and online entry forms can be found.
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