The second day of racing here in St Thomas and I’m on a PowerCat (offered by Catamaran Adventures) press boat to better take in the action from an extremely close vantage point in the midst of all the racing action! It was a packed course with over 700 sailors on 77 teams filling the beautiful view of sailing paradise. For those on board the racing boats, serious attention was needed to avoid rocks, other boats and even the occasional ferry!
The first race was a twice-around windward-leeward course that lasted an hour, while the second showed off the scenic south coast of St. John on a 22-mile windward-leeward course that used Leduck Island as it’s windward turning mark.With the steady tradewinds blowing between 12-15 kts, there was plenty of action and a few close calls as yachts started packed closely together at the line before spreading out, ultimately dotting the horizon with brightly colored spinnakers flying.
The St Thomas Rolex Regatta always attracts a wide variety of sailor and this year is no exception. The oldest competitor, Bill Alcott (St. Claire Shores, Mich.), age 74, has sailed his Andrews 68 Equation in the regatta for more years than he can remember. This year, he decided to charter the Swan 601 Aquarius and promptly had team shirts printed that read Equarius, in tribute to his old boat. His dry humor is only matched by his all-out approach to sailing, and life. “You’re as old as you don’t and as young as you do!,” he said after finishing 5-6 in today’s racing for a sixth overall in IRC 1 class.
The youngest sailor is 5 1/2 year old Madeline Avery aboard the IC24 Brand New Second Hand. Her father, and skipper of the boat, Morgan Avery, is a St Thomas boat builder who helped design the IC24, which is now one of the hottest one-design classes in the Caribbean.
This years’ race also includes two all-female crewed boats: Northern Child, the Swan 51, skippered by Suzette Smith (Hawaii), and Diamonds Are Forever, an Elan37, skippered by Annie O’Sullivan (GBR) and entered by GirlsforSail. Captain Suzette “Hau’oli” Smith is an accomplished sailor with over 80,000 nautical miles of offshore, coastal and inland water experience, including an extensive international racing portfolio as a professional and amateur. Suzette races for Safe Passage Sailing, whose mission is to provide sailors at every level of experience opportunities to participate in world class events around the U.S. and in international waters, as the Team Coach and Skipper along with Northern Child’s owner – Christian Reynolds. Her crew consists of women from all over the U.S. with a range of experience on the water. Most race on their home waters be they lakes or bays and at least one cruises full-time on her own yacht. With careers in everything from Health Care administration to software designer, these women have come together to experience the thrill of racing in this grand event.
With a perfect score line, Antilope, Willem Wester’s (NED) Grand Soleil, is still leading in the nine-boat IRC 2 class. Phil Lotz’s (Newport, R.I.) Club Swan 42 Arethusa remains in second overall after finishing 3-2 today.
In CSA Spinnaker 3 class, Timothy Molony’s (New Orleans, La.) Wild at Heart broke yesterday’s stalemate with Kike Gonzalez’s (San Juan, PR) J/80 Otrakosa when it won both races today, with Otrakosa in second each time.
In CSA Spinnaker 1, Mark Plaxton’s (Tortola, BVI) Melges 32 Team INTAC/CROWLEY finished 2-2 today to maintain yesterday’s lead over Andrea Scarabelli’s (St. Maarten, AHO) Melges 24 Budget Marine, which remains in second just ahead of David West’s (Tortola, BVI) Melges 32 Jurakan.
The IC 24 One- Design class, with 16 boats, completed nine around-the-buoy races today, with William Bailey’s (St. Thomas) Team INTAC JV taking the lead in overall scoring. The second-place finisher, Tom Kozyn’s (St. Thomas) Badfish, is a full 14 points behind.
In Beach Cats, with nine boats competing, Jorge Ramos’s (San Juan, PR) Hobie 16 Universal won today’s single distance race to maintain his lead over John Holmberg’s Hobie 16 Time Out.
Photos (except Suzette Smith’s) by Nancy Birnbaum. All Rights Reserved.