by Rebecca Madsen and Marjorie Roberts
The winning entry at the Rolex Cup Regatta shows its heels to the fleet downwind.
After three days of racing in the sapphire waters south and east of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, Tim Kimpton and Mark Chapman's Henderson 35 Crash Test Dummies,
skippered by Paul Amon, took first place honors in the 27th Annual International Rolex Cup Regatta this past weekend. The Henderson 35 won a hotly contested battle for overall honors that included Bill Berardelli's Custom 40 Mermaid II
from Blue Bell, PA, Chris Rosenberg's Melges 24 Frenchman's Reef
, and Stu Palmer's Nelson-Marek 45 Who's Yo Daddy
Amon, a cabinetmaker turned master boatbuilder and a long-time resident of Trinidad, credited Crash Test Dummies' overall victory to its final-race battle with Mermaid II. On that day, gusts nearing 25 knots buffeted the boats as they sailed a course that took them through the choppy waters of Pillsbury Sound south of St. John. "Basically, we sailed a tack-for-tack race with Mermaid," Amon elaborated, "but we didn't take the other's wind. It made us both go faster." Mermaid II benefited from the services of tactician Mark Ploch, a two-time Rolex winner.
Mermaid II came in second overall in the regatta, with 13 fleet points to Crash Test Dummies' 11. Frenchman's Reef was third, with 15 points, followed by Who's Yo Daddy, and Equation, Bill Alcott's Santa Cruz 70 with a crew that included USVI's Olympic silver medalist Peter Holmberg. Equation received the St. Thomas Yacht Club Trophy for the best elapsed time in the Spinnaker/Racing CSA fleet.
The eight-boat Melges 24 class saw heated action between eventual winner Chris Rosenberg's Frenchman's Reef and Fritz Bus' Carib Matra (pictured here).
The Rolex Regatta also marked the final event of the 2000 Caribbean Ocean Racing Triangle (CORT) series, which began in Puerto Rico with the Heineken Cup Regatta in March and moved to the British Virgin Islands with the BVI Spring Regatta in early April. In the Racing Class, Frenchman's Reef
took first-place honors, followed by Who's Yo Daddy
, Mermaid II
, Jim Dobbs' Olson 30 Lost Horizon II
, and Mike Lathrope's Mumm 30 Twisted Lizard
. In the Racing/Cruising Class, John Haracivet's Tempest
wound up first, followed by Alan Brugger's Mirage
and John Schultheiss' Cold Beer
. Rosenberg, a five-time CORT winner, also won last year.
Rosenberg credited the light wind earlier in the regatta as favoring the Melges Class, stating "the first two days of the Rolex Regatta definitely favored us." After the first day, Frenchman's Reef led by seven minutes over Crash Test Dummies. The final day, however, Rosenberg described as "tough" and "sloppy" due to big currents, five-foot swells, frequent ferry wakes, and heavy windsconditions that favored the larger boats.
Donnybrook, a custom 72 ULDB sled owned and skippered by Jim Muldoon, had a disappointing day that began before racing started. Moving slowly under power before the start, she was hit by Dan and Karen Neriís Calvin, an Aerodyne 38 that was competing in the Jib and Main Class. During a turn, Donnybrookís stern swung around and slammed Calvin near its bow. Calvinís bow cut through the port-side hull of the larger boat. Both boats retired though neither was in danger of sinking. Calvin was under mainsail alone at the time, but the regatta jury ruled her to be at fault claiming that she took insufficient action to avoid the collision. The damage was a blow to the Neris, former St. Thomas residents and well-known racing sailors. "We were just cruising through the area and planned to go home in two weeks. Now the time will be spent in the boat yard instead of sailing," said Dan Neri.
Class-by-Class Winners Ten classes competed in the Rolex Regatta, and the owner of each Class winner received a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner watch, provided by the Regatta's sponsor, Rolex of Geneva.
With a legitimate claim on the unofficial "travel award," Les Crouch's Bashford 41 from Hawaii, Twister, kept the competition interesting among the 40-footers in Class A.
The winners in Class A, Spinnaker/Racing, were Crash Test Dummies
(first place), Mermaid II
(second place), and Who's Yo Daddy
(third place). Crash Test Dummies'
owners Kimpton and Chapman presented their watch to skipper Amon after pointing out that since they could not split the timepiece, he really deserved it. The boat also received the Governor's Trophy for the best visiting yacht as judged by the Race Committee.
The winners in Class B, Spinnaker/Racing, were all from Puerto Rico. Papote Reguero's J/105 Umakua (first place), Toni Mari, Jr.'s J/80 Ex Mero Moto (second place), and Angel Ayala's J/80 Sun Bum II (third place).
The winners in Class C, Melges 24 (first to third places) were Frenchman's Reef, Barney Crook's Airgasm from Tortola, BVI, and Fritz Bus' Carib Matra from St. Martin.
The winners in Class D, Spinnaker/Racing, were Twisted Lizard, Mike Lathrope's Mumm 30 from Chicago, Lost Horizon II, James Dobbs' Olson 30 from London, UK, and Magnificent 7, John Foster's J/27 from St. Thomas.
The winners in Class E, Spinnaker/Racing, were Sorceress, Morgan Dale's Tartan 33 from St. Croix, USVI, Zing, Stu Lister's J/30 from St. John, USVI, and TSG, Mike Williams' J/29 from St. Thomas. Stu Lister, an octogenarian who has competed in most of the Rolex Regattas, also received the Commodore's Trophy for the yachtsman displaying the greatest dignity and style under pressure.
The winners in Class F, Beach Cats, were Claims Paid, John Holmberg's Inter 20 from St. Thomas, Ocean Spray, Kevin Raymond's Performance 20, also from St. Thomas, and Village Ram, St. Thomian and Olympic hopeful Terry Jackson's Tornado 20.
J/24 action meant crowded weather marks.
Boats from Puerto Rico also swept Class G, the J/24 division. Heineken PR
, owned and skippered by Mike Costanzo, Fraito Lugo's Orion Pavia
, and Pedro Quinones' Bravissimo 3
, took first, second, and third place, respectively.
The winners in Class H, Non-Spinnaker Racing, were Keep It Simple, Trudy and Jerry Ficks' J/42 from the British Virgin Islands, Kracker Jack, Freddie Andrews' Olson 40 from Puerto Rico, and Platero, Enrique Peral's C&C 37 from San Juan.
Class I Honors, Jib and Main Racing, went to Carlos Sierra's Marlyn II from Humacao, Puerto Rico, Mistral, a Beneteau 35s5 owned by Carson Smith from Dallas, TX, and Online Vacations, Cary Wright's Cal 2-27 from St. John. Online Vacations also received the dubious honor of the Johnson Reef Trophy, awarded to the yacht suffering the most ignominious calamity, for its unanticipated complete 360 degree turn in full sight of the judges' boat.
Class J Honors, Racer/Cruiser, went to Alastair Lenz's Polyphagus from Southampton, UK, John Schultheiss' Tartan Ten Cold Beer (aptly named for the five-day party that accompanied the three-day race) from Tortola, and Peter Haycraft's Sirena 39 Pipedream, also from Tortola.
Twenty-four of the 88 entrants in the Rolex Cup Regatta listed homeports in Puerto Rico, followed by 20 from St. Thomas, and 19 from the US mainland. There were six from the British Virgin Islands, six each from St. Croix and St. John, two each from the UK and St. Martin, and one each from Trinidad, Venezuela, and Italy. The entrants from the US mainland came from all over-California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas.