Posts Tagged ‘Rolex Regatta’

Racing Charters – The newest craze for sailing enthusiasts!

Watch this great video of the St Thomas Rolex Regatta featuring two racing yacht charters by Safe Passage Sailing.

And, featuring photos by YourCruisingEditor!


Thanks to Grant Headifen, NauticEd, Safe Passage Sailing and both crews!



More on the St Thomas Rolex Regatta coverage:

Its off to the races! On Assignment at the Rolex Regatta, St. Thomas

Rolex Regatta, St Thomas – The fun begins!

Day Two: Rolex Regatta St Thomas – awash in sun and sea!

And the Winners Are…Rolex Regatta teaching us about life


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The start of Race 1 on day 3


Day three of the Rolex Regatta found me out on the water again, except I was not on a comfortable cat or a bouncy press boat. On Sunday I got to race! I accepted an invitation to sail on board Northern Child , the 51 Swan belonging to Brit Christian Reynolds and being chartered by Safe Passage Sailing. Though I came to shoot photos, it wasn’t long before I had to trade the camera for a winch handle! Scampering up to the high side as we tacked our way into position for the start of the first race around Pillsbury Sound, completing distance courses that explored the cays and islands off St. Thomas, I recalled my early racing “career” as a pre-teen in the Chesapeake. My Uncle George taught me the fine art of being rail meat, an experience I will never forget! Back then, we new our jobs and tried like hell not to get in the way or worse, yelled at. And that, my friends, is why I only sail with non-yellers!

nothernchild2-pullingThe crew of Northern Child (in the CSA Spinnaker 2 class) – seven very tough gals, were up against some pretty stiff competition. “Sailors came from around the globe, and each class had a good number of boats with impressive depth of competition,” said Regatta Director Bill Canfield. One of only two all female crews in this Regatta, Northern Child had a secret weapon in coach Suzette Smith.

“We’re going to sail a broad reach, so I want you all to think about what has to happen next. How will the sails be trimmed? Where do you need to be?” Suzette called out to us. Her calm tones gave instant clarity and assured us that we did know how to do it. I have to give Suzette tons of credit. It’s not easy to take a group of strangers with varying degrees of experience and turn them into a well-oiled racing team after just two days of practice. Two days! “By Sunday, something clicks in your head and you’re starting to anticipate the next move rather than wait to be instructed,” one participant told me. “It’s too bad we’re not racing next week as well, now that we’ve got it!”

Safe Passage Sailing lived up to it’s mission: To provide opportunities for the intermediate to advanced sailor to participate in celebrated sailing events, around the U.S. and in international waters and to provide an exciting and fulfilling experience for those in pursuit of adventure, knowledge and growth.” After sailing just two races with this crew,it was clear to me that every single one of them had learned something, either about racing or about themselves. Most likely, both!

And the Winners Are…


Antelope. Photo:N.Birnbaum

With today’s two victories to add to an already perfect score line, Willem Wester’s (SUI) Grand Soleil 43 Antilope made an impressive showing in the nine-boat IRC 2 class, earning Wester a Rolex Explorer timepiece as prize. (Timepieces were also awarded to IRC 1 class, the top performer among CSA Spinnaker classes and IC 24 one-design class.)


Antelope's Skipper Bouwe Bekking and his wife. Photo:N.Birnbaum

“This was our first time to this part of the world,” said Wester, who has won Cowes Week the last two years aboard Antilope and sailed with a crew from Belgium and Holland that included veteran Volvo Ocean Race skipper Bouwe Bekking, who called tactics, and Olympian Philippe Bergmans, who steered.

For Ed Baird (St. Petersburg, Fla.), being a seasoned professional didn’t take anything away from his experience here.  The winning skipper from the 2007 America’s Cup (Alinghi) crewed aboard Richard Oland’s (New Brunswick, CAN) Southern Cross Vela Veloce while Canadian Olympian Richard Clarke steered. The team finished second in IRC 1 class, conceding to Jim Swartz’s (Park City, Utah) TP52 Vesper/Team Moneypenny, which won all but one of six races.


Elandra of Hamble battles Northern Child & Affinity. Photo:N.Birnbaum

In the CSA Spinnaker 2 class, Calvin Reed’s (Tampa, Fla.) Beneteau First 40.7 Elandra of Hamble won top honors as they fended off who they considered their #1 competition, Richard Wesslund’s (Miami, Fla.) J/120 El Ocaso, which slipped to third place overall after posting a 5-4 today.

Of course, it’s not just about the winners. Northern Child, with their neophyte racers working their magic managed to finish in the middle of the pack. Not bad! Congrats to all of you! I hope I helped a little bit!


Winner celebrate with watches. Photo:N.Birnbaum


International Rolex Regatta 2011

Day 3

IC 24 (One Design – 16 Boats)
1. Team INTAC JV, IC 24, William Bailey , St. Thomas, VI, USA – 6, 3, 3, 1, 1, 3, 2, 1, 6, 2, 4, 1, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, ; 51
2. Orion, IC 24, Fraito Lugo , Ponce, PR, USA – 5, 2, 7, 2, 11, 8, 1, 2, 5, 3, 7, 3, 9, 4, 2, 3, 1, ; 75
3. Soggy Dollar BVI, IC 24, Chris Cuerreri , St. Thomas , USVI – 2, 8, 2, 12, 3, 4, 4, 7, 1, 12, 9, 4, 2, 1, 3, 2, 6, ; 82

CSA Spinnaker 1 (CSA – 6 Boats)
1. Team INTAC/CROWLEY, Melges 32, Mark Plaxton , Sea Cows Bay, Tortola, BVI – 1, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, ; 9
2. Budget Marine/GILL , Melges 24, Andrea Scarabelli , Cole Bay, St. Maarten, AHO – 3, 1, 4, 1, 2, 4, ; 15
3. Jurakan, Melges 32, David West , Road Town, Tortola, BVI – 2, 3, 1, 4, 4, 3, ; 17

CSA Spinnaker 2 (CSA – 11 Boats)
1. Elandra of Hamble, Beneteau First 40.7, Calvin Reed , Tampa, FL, USA – 3, 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, ; 12
2. Smile and Wave, Beneteau First 40, Jaime Torres , San Juan, PR, USA – 6, 3, 1, 3, 1, 3, ; 17
3. El Ocaso, J 120, Richard Wesslund , Miami, FL, USA – 4, 1, 3, 2, 5, 4, ; 19

CSA Spinnaker 3 (CSA – 6 Boats)
1. Wild At Heart, JOD 35, Timothy Molony , New Orleans, LA, USA – 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 7
2. Otrakosa, J 80, Kike Gonzalez , San Juan, PR, USA – 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, ; 11
3. Mag 7, J 27, Paul Davis , Charlotte amalie, VI, USA – 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, ; 21

CSA Non-Spinnaker (CSA – 10 Boats)
1. Lost Horizon, J 122, James Dobbs , Falmouth, ANT – 5, 1, 1, 1, 2, ; 10
2. Cayennita Grande, J 36, Antonio Sanpere , Christiansted, VI, USA – 2, 2, 2, 3, 1, ; 10
3. Bonne Chance, Beneteau First 35s5, Bernardo Gonzalez , Dorado, PR, USA – 1, 3, 3, 2, 3, ; 12
IRC 1 (IRC – 6 Boats)
1. Vesper, TP 52, James Swartz , Park City, Utah, USA – 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 7
2. Vela Veloce, Southern Cross 52, Richard Oland , Saint John, NB, CAN – 3, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, ; 14
3. Interlodge, JV 52, Austin and Gwen Fragomen , Newport, RI, USA – 1, 4, 4, 3, 3, 2, ; 17

IRC 2 (IRC – 9 Boats)
1. Antilope, Grand Soleil 43, Willem Wester , Breskens, Zeeland, NED – 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 6
2. Three Harkoms, Oceanis 44, James Hudleston , St. petersburg, FL, USA – 2, 4, 2, 4, 3, 2, ; 17
3. Arethusa, Club Swan 42, Phil Lotz , Newport, RI, USA – 3, 2, 3, 2, 4, 4, ; 18
Beach Cats (Portsmouth – 9 Boats)
1. Universal, Hobie 16, Jorge L Ramos , San Juan, PR, USA – 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 6
2. Time Out, Hobie 16, John Holmberg , St. Thomas, VI, USA – 3, 2, 3, 2, 2, ; 12
3. Island Girl, Hobie 16, Teri McKenna , St. Thomas, VI, USA – 5, 3, 5, 3, 3, ; 19

Results and more from Media Pro International and RolexCupRegatta.com.




YourCruisingEditor onboard Northen Child, 2011

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St Thomas Rolex Regatta

Downwind run on day 2 of the St Thomas Rolex Regatta

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!


All Gal Crew on Northern Child

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.


Northern Child coach Suzette "Hau'oli" Smith. Photo courtesy of Safe Passage Sailing.

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.


Northern Child-Sponsored by SPS & NauticEd

Current Standings

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.

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St Thomas YC

St Thomas YC -Home of the Rolex Regatta

Thirty eight years ago the first International Rolex Regatta took place in St. Thomas and so began a long tradition that endures to this day.  With 71 boats signed up, the 2011 International Rolex Regatta began on Friday, March 25, and ran through Sunday, March 27. Attracting some “Big Guns,” such as Boewe Bekking, Gavin Brady, Ed Baird, Steve Benjamin, Richard Clarke and Chris Larson aboard the keelboats, but those veteran professionals were by no means guaranteed victory-or a good time-in the eight classes, which included two for IRC, four for CSA, and one each for IC 24s and Beach Cats. They were up against some first timers who would give them a run for their money!

First up on the three-day race schedule – some colorful “town races” that started at St. Thomas Yacht Club and finished in Charlotte Amalie Harbour at lunchtime before starting up again for a return to the Yacht Club.


Kialoa V, Big Booty & Spirit of Juno on downwind run

Getting out in the midst of the action, I hopped on a 26 footer, “press boat” with Capt John and some fellow photographers. With bumpy conditions and a lovely tradewinds breeze, we found a good spot to view the start of the first race, on the east end of St Thomas and just off St James Island. I was attempting to pick out two particular yachts, each racing in different classes and with various start times. It was good to have a seasoned Rolex Regatta photographer onboard with us to help direct, as this was my first time.


Sailors check the courses at the Yacht Club

The International Rolex Regatta is one of the top sailing events on the island circuit with competitors coming from as far away as the UK and The Netherlands, and sailors lucky enough to win the top classes can also take home a Rolex Explorer watch. Parties are legendary, including a Saturday evening reggae music and food fete at Yacht Haven Grande, adding the requisite luxury backdrop and an unforgettable prize giving event on Sunday hosted by Rolex.  Racing includes a mix of short courses and long distance races that take place off St. Thomas Yacht Club and along the waterfronts of St. Thomas and St. John.

“With dependable trade winds, great racing is assured, and we work hard to make it easy for sailors and their families to participate,” said Regatta Co-Director Bill Canfield, explaining that the St. Thomas Yacht Club is the central meeting place for breakfast each morning and socializing after racing.

“One of our traditions is the ‘town race’ on Friday, where the entire fleet races from the east end of St. Thomas right to the heart of the bustling commercial harbor of Charlotte Amalie,” added Canfield. “Once the fleet has finished, we start them again for the race back home. The spectacle of a mass of colorful spinnakers against the backdrop of the surrounding hills of  St. Thomas makes for postcard perfect photos and give the locals, as well as others who are visiting, an opportunity to see St. Thomas’ beautiful and historic capital in it’s historic racing glory.

spinnakers on the horizon

A Beautiful Day for Racing!

Racing is rounded out on the weekend by a mix of island races and windward/leewards designed to test skills and showcase the stunning shoreline. Classes include IRC, CSA (Spinnaker Racing, Spinnaker Racing/Cruising and Non-Spinnaker Racing), One-Design IC 24s (Melges) and Beach Cats. It has been hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club since 1974, making it the oldest regatta in Rolex’s portfolio of international sailing events. The Rolex portfolio includes famous offshore and grand-prix events such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Rolex Fastnet Race, Giraglia Rolex Cup, Rolex Middle Sea Race, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship.

From (in part) Media Pro International and RegattaNews.com.

Photos by Nancy Birnbaum, 2011

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2011-rolex_regatta_stthomasI learned most of what I know about sailing from the deck of an Ericson 36 that I raced with my Uncle George on the Chesapeake Bay. From the age of 10 to 13, I absorbed tactics and learned the ropes, usually from my tentative perch on the foredeck or the side rail. It wasn’t until I became an adult and moved clear across the country to The San Francisco Bay, that I discovered cruising, and it took more years of racing and day-sailing on the SF Bay before I finally cut the docklines free and set sail with no particular destination in mind.

And so it’s no wonder that while cruising is my passion, racing sailboats has always been my favorite sport. Later this week, I get to race with the “big boats” at the 38th Annual Rolex Regatta in St. Thomas, as the guest of Safe Passage Sailing, a company that let’s you charter racing yachts and participate as a member of a racing crew in some of the most renowned regattas in the world.

S/Y Northern Child

The S/Y Northern Child

I’ll be covering the Rolex on Assignment (March 21-27) for Yachting Times Magazine, America’s first bi-lingual boating publication. From the St. Thomas YC, home of this world-class event as well as from the deck of both Kialoa V and Northern Child, I will bring you all the action and thrills of racing. I’m especially thrilled to join the all-women crew onboard Northern Child, a Swan 51 for what will surely be a day of great sailing and spectacular racing! At the helm – a world-class skipper and mentor, Suzette “Hau’oli” Smith.

SPS suzette smith

Racing Pro Suzette Smith

Suzette Smith is a seasoned licensed charter captain with a USCG Masters 100 ton and ASA certified instructor on boats 38’-70’+. In 2006 she was named ASA’s “Outstanding National Instructor of the Year.”

Ms Smith has participated in numerous high caliber sailing campaigns such as Team Pegasus, the first and only all-woman America’s Cup team, America 3, which raced in the 1995 America‘s Cup defenders series, as well as other notable regattas around the world.

It is without a doubt that I am both honored and extremely excited to have the opportunity to race with Hau’oli in this renowned regatta. My sincere thanks to Randee Fowler of Safe Passage Sailing and Dolores Barciela, Publisher of Yachting Times Magazine (YTM) for making this all possible!


YTM_cvr_aut2010“Stay Tuned” for more blogs from St Thomas and don’t forget to check out YTM online at http://yachtingtimesmagazine.com where you can view e-Mag versions of this beautiful magazine!

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