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Some Things Old, Some Things New, Rolex Sails on Ocean Blue

The 2005 International Rolex Regatta started the first day with clean seas and a steady 12 knot breeze and just improved from there. The first day was windward-leewards for all classes but the cruising non-spinnaker. Some participants among the J-24s and Cruising boats did not read their racing instructions carefully and ended up at the wrong starting circle, but this did not prove to be an insurmountable obstacle to the best racers.

At the end of the first day, 75' Titan XII dominated the big boat class with three first place finishes.Many of the other classes are showing the tight competition expected from "The Rolex." Classes 2, 3 and four had one point or ties separating the top scorers. In the Racer/Cruiser class two sister ships from opposite sides of the Atlantic were tied for first. Anticipation from Cowes, UK was even with Lazy Dog from San Juan, PR.

The battle in the 15 strong IC-24 class was a smaller version with St. Thomians Chris Rosenberg and John Holmberg chasing Michael and Robbie Hirst of the BVI after four races. The standard J-24's had Cruzan Jeff Fangman in second place in a mostly Puerto Rican class.

The second day brought a change of pace from past years. The competitors traded in short-course buoy racing for a coastal romp that took them from Cowpet Bay, where host St. Thomas Yacht Club is located, to a finish line inside the harbor of Charlotte Amalie. This first race of the day featured an unusual downwind start with helmsmen, tacticians, and crews working on ways to hit the start line at the correct moment and with a spinnaker up or on its way up. The IC-24s and J/24s reached the harbor first, taking the most direct course for the coastal distance of six miles, while the bigger boats and beach cats added around-the-buoys extensions to their routes, making the longest of the courses a 16-miler. After a brief upwind leg outside the harbor, Spinnaker class boats were able to carry chutes right to the finish line bringing the Rolex Regatta right by several docked cruise ships into the heart of historic Charlotte Amalie harbor.

The 79-boat fleet then reversed course for the second race of the day and beat back upwind in 12-15 knot breezes to St. Thomas Yacht Club where a beach party awaited the tired but happy competitors. In general, the race into the harbor was considered great fun by the sailors, with many feeling that the second "upwind" race could have been shortened by a few miles without bruising any egos, as many of the competitors finished after four in the afternoon.

The final day was almost made to order for sailing with a slight increase of wind at the start. The Virgin Islands trade winds, bright sun and tidal current tactics brought the 32nd International Rolex Regatta to a brilliant finish. The starting area on the south side of St. Thomas had four to six foot waves with tide going against the trades winds current flow, but the warm sun deflected crews from complaining about the occasional wash down.

For Easter Sunday, the second leg of the race filled Pilsbury Sound between St. Thomas and St. John with colored spinnakers to compete with any Easter egg. The area was critical to tactical decisions for many of the racers.

"We played the current a lot better than the others on both windward legs," said tactician Dan Neri of Class 2 winner Temptress "On the first one, we made big gains by going in near the rocks; then on our spinnaker run we were in adverse current, so we made note of it and played it to our advantage on the next beat." Neri, now living in Rhode Island, is no stranger to this area, formerly working in a St. Thomas sail loft, and racing in more Rolex Regattas that some of the local sailors.

Although some classes were easy to call after Saturday's races down into the Charlotte Amalie harbor and back to the east end of the island, two classes came down to the last race and final finishing positions.

In Racing class three, three Melges 24's representing St. Maarten, Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands were fighting for the top spot. Frits Bus of St. Maarten won the final race, But it was only a moral victory. The second place finish of Guy Eldridge of Tortola, BVI tied Enrique Torruella of Puerto Rico, with Eldridge taking home the Rolex Submariner on a tiebreaker.

In the IC-24 Class, Robbie and Mike Hirst beat out Chris Rosenberg by a single point after nine races winning the 16 boat class. Rosenberg had presented Robbie with a winner's Rolex after Hirst had served as tactician during a previous Rolex Regatta, so brother Mike Hirst was in line for the watch after this win.

As expected Titan XII was dominating the big boat class 1, but the race for second between Donnybrook and Equation was going down to the wire.

Non-spinnaker racing featured some long time International Rolex Regatta competitors and former winners. Tony and Ellen Sanpere edged out former winner Rudy Thompson on TNT 76 and last year's runner up Jack Desmond on Affinity to win the class. Sanpere sailed in the very first International Rolex Regatta in 1974. Said a delighted Sanpere: "I guess you could say Iíve been waiting 32 years to win this Rolex."

Final results and the first three places follow:

Position, Boat , Skipper, Hometown, Country, Boat , Finish Positions, Score

Spinnaker Racing 1 (5 boats)

1. Titan 12, Tom Hill, San Juan, PR, USA, R/P 75, 1-1-1-1-1-1, 6

2. Donnybrook, James P. Muldoon, Washington, DC, USA, Custom 73, 2-3-4-5-2-2, 19

3. Equation, Bill Alcott, St. Clair Shores, MI, USA, Andrews, 5-2-5-2-3-3, 20

Spinnaker Racing 2 (5 boats)

1. Temptress, Richard Shulman, Riverside, RI, USA, IMX45, 1-1-2-1-1-1,7

2. Caccia Alla Volpe, Carlo Falcone, Antigua, ANT, Vallicelli 44, 2-2-1-2-2-2, 11

3. Cosmic War Lord, Michael Shlens, Los Angeles, CA, USA, Express 37, 3-3-3-3-3-3, 18

Spinnaker Racing 3 (6 boats)

1. Mistress Quickly, Guy Eldridge, Roadtown, Tortola, BVI, Melges 24, 4-2-1-1-2-2, 12

2. Don Q Limon, Enrique Torruella, Guaynabo, PR, Melges 24, 1-3-2-2-1-3, 12

3. Contact Carib 2, Frits Bus, Philipsburg, St. Martin, NA, Melges 24, 2-1-4-3-3-1, 14

Spinnaker Racing 4 (11 boats)

1. Lost Horizon II, James Dobbs, ANT, Olson 30, 1-2-1-1-1-1, 7

2. Magnificent Seven, John Foster, St. Thomas, USVI, J/27, 2-1-2-2-2-2, 11

3. Broken Drum, Jack Bishop, St. Croix, VI, USA, 7-5-3-6-3-4, 28

Spinnaker Racer/Cruiser (7 boats)

1. Lazy Dog, Sergio Sagramoso, San Juan, PR, FIRST 40.7, 1-3-1-1-1-4, 11

2. Pipe Dream, Peter Haycraft, Roadtown, Tortola, BVI, Sirena 38, 3-4-3-2-3-2, 16

3. Anticipation, Peter Newlands, Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK, Beneteau 40.7, 2-1-2-3-8-1, 17

Beach Cats (11 boats)

1. Suzuki/Red Bull, Enrique Figueroa, San Juan, PR, USA, Hobie Cat 16, 1-1-1-1-1, 6

2. Exodus, Keke Figueroa, San Juan, PR, Hobie Cat 16, 2-5-3-3-2-2, 17

3. Waterfit, Dennys Junco/Carolina Graulau, Carolina, PR, Hobie Cat 16, 5-6-5-2-3-3, 24

Non Spinnaker Racing (11 boats)

1. Cayennita, Antonio/Ellen Sanpere, Christiansted, USVI, Soverel 27, 2-3-4-4, 13

2. Affinity, Jack Desmond, Boston, MA, USA, 1-9-3-2, 15

3. TNT 76, Rudy Thompson, St. Thomas, USVI, Sonar 23, 3-4-5-3, 15

J-24 (7 boats)

1. Orion, Fraito Lugo, Ponce, PR, USA, DNS-1-1-1-2-1-1, 15

2. Urayo, Gilberto Rivera, Guayanabo, PR, USA, DNS-2-2-5-1-2-2, 22

3. El Shaddai II, Jeff Fangmann, Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI, 1-4-7-3-6-3-3, 27

IC-24 (16 boats)

1. Sea Hawk, Robert/Michael Hirst, Tortola, BVI, 2-1-2-3-2-2-4-6-3, 25

2. BamBoushay, Chris Rosenberg, St. Thomas, USVI, 3-4-3-2-1-1-3-5-4, 26

3. Stinger, John Holmberg, St. Thomas, USVI, 1-3-1-9-3-5-6-3-1, 32

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