Topping off three days of sun-drenched racing in the International Rolex Regatta, over 700 sailors on 77 teams mixed it up today on Pillsbury Sound, completing distance courses that explored the cays and islands off St. Thomas, where the event has been hosted for 38 years by St. Thomas Yacht Club. Big guns, such as Boewe Bekking, Gavin Brady, Ed Baird, Steve Benjamin, Richard Clarke and Chris Larson were in abundance aboard the keelboats that competed, but it by no means took the calling cards of professional sailors to guarantee 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.
“This has been one of the best groups of boats and sailors we’ve ever had,” said Regatta Director Bill Canfield. “Sailors came from around the globe, and each class had a good number of boats with impressive depth of competition.” Canfield explained that the largest keelboat competing was the 90-foot Genuine Risk, the recent Pineapple Cup Montego Bay Race winner, with Hugo Stenbeck (SWE) steering, while the smallest were 24-footers. (Melges 24s sailed in a CSA Spinnaker class that was populated by sport boats, while IC 24s came in numbers large enough to earn their own One-Design circle.) Ages ranged from in the single digits to mid 70s, and included newcomers, returning veterans and everything in between.
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 timepiece as prize. (Timepieces were also awarded to IRC 1 class, the top performer among CSA Spinnaker classes and IC 24 one-design class.)
“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. “The whole atmosphere here was fantastic, with the Race Committee setting some wonderful courses; Bekking is a bit of a slave driver (laughs), but a nice one, and he raised the level of the team.”
Bekking gave credit to good starts, letting the crew do its work and keeping a cool head during the challenge of negotiating Friday’s “town races” to and from Charlotte Amalie; Saturday’s distance races skirting the south coast of St. John island; and today’s exceptionally intriguing “Pillsbury” courses set between St. Thomas and St. John. “I’d say by far, it is the best of the events I’ve sailed in the last couple of years,” said Bekking.
Antilope’s closest competitor, Phil Lotz’s (Newport, R.I.) Club Swan 42 Arethusa, fell to third today with two fourth-place finishes, while James Hudleston’s (St. Petersburg, Fla.) Oceanis 44 Three Harkoms snagged second, just one point ahead, on merit of a 3-2 today.
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.
“It’s the first time either Richard (Clarke) or I have raced here,” said Baird. “We’ve both sailed all over the world but never with so many islands and rocks in close proximity; it was challenging, not knowing what the wind would be doing around the next corner. “
Baird described the top-three boats in his class, all 52 footers, as “locked in battle” the whole regatta. “Vesper (with New Zealand’s America’s Cup veteran Gavin Brady replacing Jim Swartz on the helm today) had a speed advantage, especially upwind, so they could usually sneak out to a strong position and stay ahead, but we went back and fourth with Interlodge (Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s entry from Newport, R.I.)”
Vesper and Interlodge have both sailed this event before,” said Brady, “so when we’d gain a little near the shore, they’d come back at us, maybe using some local knowledge they had. We figured that by the end of the regatta, we’d be really ready for next year!”
Though their expectations in CSA Spinnaker 3 class were modest in the beginning,Timothy Molony’s (New Orleans, La.) Southern Yacht Club team aboard Wild at Heart proved unbeatable in the end. Only on day one were they not at the top of the scoreboard, but today was to still be a test with only two points separating them and Kike Gonzalez’s (San Juan, PR) J/80 Otrakosa, which wound up second overall.
“We won both of today’s races by exactly two minutes and 25 seconds, which is pretty remarkable,” said Molony, who counts this as his first time to race in the islands. “We ended up with one second and five firsts, while Otrakosa had one first and five seconds.” (Paul Davis’s St. Thomas entry Mag 7 took third overall.)
“We’ve all sailed together since we were kids, so it’s like a family quarrel when we call tactics,” joked Molony, who chartered Wild at Heart from a company in Germany “that took care of everything and perfectly prepared the boat.”
It was a young William Bailey (St. Thomas), skippering Team INTAC JV, who won the Rolex timepiece in the 16-boat IC 24 class. The high school senior, age 18, endured 17 around-the-buoys races that were reserved especially for this hotly contested one-design class and counted among his crew 2010 College Sailor of the Year (from Yale) Thomas Barrows, a fellow St. Thomian.
Before racing the last six races today, Bailey knew he had to stay in the top three as much as he could. A bad start in the first race buried him, but he calmly scratched back to win handily, then continued with a string of finishes that were fourth or better.
“It still hasn’t hit me yet,” said Bailey, who was duly impressed when he was told he’d be awarded the newest model of the Rolex Explorer, which accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary on his famous ascent of Mt. Everest in 1953.
Second-place finisher, a full 24 points behind, was Fraito Lugo’s (Ponce, PR) Orion, followed by Chris Cuerreri’s (St. Thomas) Soggy Dollar BVI in third.
From day one, Mark Plaxton’s (Tortola, BVI) Melges 32 Team INTAC/CROWLEY established his lead in the six-boat CSA Spinnaker 1 class. After posting two victories today, he showed nothing higher than a second-place finish in his six-race score line, which also kept Andrea Scarabelli’s (St. Maarten, AHO) Melges 24 Budget Marine and David West’s (Tortola, BVI) Melges 32 Jurakan in second and third, respectively, for the entire event.
Plaxton was awarded the Rolex watch as the top performer among the CSA spinnaker classes and was philosophical about it. “I was a Junior A hockey player from Canada where I learned ‘stick on ice, head up and pass the puck.’ Basically, that means it’s not about the watch or winning, it’s about peace, love and boat speed and helping out the next generation.” (It is no coincidence that William Bailey’s winning IC 24 team of young sailors shared the same boat name.)
Things sorted out just fine today for Calvin Reed’s (Tampa, Fla.) Beneteau First 40.7 Elandra of Hamble, yesterday’s leader in CSA Spinnaker 2 class. With finish positions of 2-2 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. Rising from fourth place yesterday to second place, with a 1-3 today, was Jaimie Torres’s (San Juan, PR) Beneteau First 40 Smile and Wave.
In the 10-boat CSA Non-Spinnaker class, James Dobbs’ (Antigua) Lost Horizon turned in a 1-2 today to tie on point score (10) with Tony Sanpere’s (St. Croix, USVI) J/36 Cayennita Grande but win the class after tie-breaking rules were applied.
Lost Horizon was definitely the sleeper of the regatta, arriving with an incomplete crew and adding to it to finish third overall after the first day of racing. On the second day, the team managed to rise through the ranks to second overall behind Cayennita Grande then top them in the finale. Bernardo Gonzalez’s (Dorado, PR) Beneteau First 35s5 Bonne Chance, maintained its third from yesterday.
In Beach Cats, with nine boats competing, Jorge Ramos’s (San Juan, PR) Hobie 16 Universal had only to finish today’s two races to win his class’s five-race series. He not only finished the races but also won them both, just as he had won his two previous races—by huge margins. “We are happy that the fleet was bigger this year,” said Ramos, considered to be one of the top five cat sailors from his country. “There was some attention lost for a few years, but now we are hoping that the class will build again and this regatta will become a primary focus for us.” Giving Ramos a run for his money with a 2-2 today was last year’s winner John Holmberg (St. Thomas), also sailing a Hobie 16, Time Out, with his 12-year-old son Kai. In third was Teri McKenna’s (St. Thomas) Hobie 16 Island Girl.
The International Rolex Regatta, considered the “Crown Jewel” of the traditional spring Caribbean regattas, is the third of the four-part Caribbean Ocean Racing Circuit (CORC), which also includes major regattas in St. Croix, Puerto Rico and Tortola. Sailors are treated to a mix of short-course and long distance races that take place off St. Thomas Yacht Club and along the waterfronts of St. Thomas and St. John. Parties are legendary, including a Saturday evening reggae party at Yacht Haven Grande marina, which adds exotic flair to the activities.
The International Rolex Regatta has been hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club since 1974, making it the oldest regatta in Rolex’s portfolio of international sailing events. Rolex is known for sponsoring 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.
A.H. Riise, Official Retailer of Rolex watches in the U.S. Virgin Islands, takes an active role in sponsorship of the International Rolex Regatta. The St. Thomas shop is one of the largest in the Caribbean and is located on the historic waterfront of downtown Charlotte Amalie.
International Rolex Regatta 2011
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
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 7 Boston, USA to Galway, Ireland
(click on image to view gallery)
Volvo Ocean Race Boston In Port Race
Volvo Ocean Race Leg 6 Finish - Rio de Janeiro, Brasil to Boston, USA
On Sunday night in St. Petersburg, the final prizegiving was an opportunity to remember and celebrate all that has happened on this magnificent adventure.
It was an emotional evening, with all of the teams, their families and friends finally able to truly relax after living in the pressure-cooker of the past nine months. It was also time to say goodbye, with most of the teams disbanding as early as Monday, airplane tickets taking them to all corners of the globe already in hand, booked months in advance.
The most poignant moment came with the inaugaral awarding of the Hans Horrevoets Rookie Trophy, which was created in memory of Hans, who was lost at sea during the last edition of the race. The Dutchman was washed over the side of ABN AMRO TWO on the transatlantic leg. He had played a key role in ABN AMRO’s unique and ambitious project to help young talent break into the top level of offshore sailing.
His wife, Petra, was on hand to present the award and her emotional speech saw even the most hardened of sailors wiping tears from their eyes.
The award was created to recognise a rookie sailor who was younger than 30 when the event commenced. Each skipper was asked to nominate a who has shown a significant drive to make an improvement to their own skills and to the skills of the team and who has shown a significant contribution in strengthening the team onboard. The Race Committee made a selection from those nominated.
Images by Rick Tomlinson and Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race
(click on image to enlarge)
The winner of the inaugural Hans Horrevoets Rookie Trophy is Michi Mueller from PUMA Ocean Racing, whom skipper Ken Read said had grown from a raw, untested rookie, into a linch-pin of the team.
It was a good night for PUMA as the Inmarsat Media Prize went to Rick Deppe, who was recognised for his outstanding work across the entire race. Deppe won the prize for leg 10 (his fourth win), as well as the overall prize (which included a cheque for 10,000 euros), and he was quick to pay tribute to his colleagues, asking all of the media crew members to join him on stage.
Presenting the prize, Perry Melton, COO, Inmarsat said: “The Volvo Ocean Race selected Fleet Broadband before its launch. They have described its global performance as flawless. We are delighted that the innovation of media crew members was paired with our newest service to deliver media coverage from the harshest of maritime conditions.”
The advent of the media crew members has allowed the race to secure HD footage that has never been recorded in past races, when regular crew were asked to to double duty as media men as well. In this race, the media crew members have not been allowed to participate in the sailing of the boat. As a result, they are more like ‘embedded reporters’, bringing the true story of their teams to life.
Deppe wasn’t the only media crew recognised on the night. Green Dragon’s Guo Chaun was presented with a new market media award in recognition of the media interest generated across China.
The Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Seamanship Award was given to the PUMA Ocean Racing shore crew (Neil Cox, Sean Healey, Will Oxley and Kimo Worthington) for rending assistance to Telefonica Blue, after they ran aground at the start of Leg 9 in Marstrand.
And finally, to the sailing teams themselves. All eight teams were recognised for their achievements while Ericsson 4, the winner of the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race, was presented with the ‘Fighting Finish’ trophy by Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, patron of the Volvo Ocean Race; a just reward for a team that has dominated the competition, securing the overall title in Stockholm, with one in-port race, and one offshore leg to spare.
In closing the ceremonies, Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad paid tribute to his team in addition to all of the sailing teams and was already looking forward to the start of the next race, in 2011 in Alicante, Spain.
Following the formalities, the celebrations started in full force and continued long into the night and indeed well into the morning. With no more racing scheduled, there was no reason to stop the party. Until next time, this is, the end of the road.
Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 Prizes
Best 24-hour run - Ericsson 4, 596.6 nautical miles
Hans Horrevoets Rookie Trophy - Michi Mueller, PUMA Ocean Racing
Inmarsat Media Prize – Rick Deppe, PUMA Ocean Racing
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Seamanship Award - PUMA Ocean Racing shore crew
Volvo Ocean Race, 3rd place – Telefonica Blue
Volvo Ocean Race, 2nd place – PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race, 1st place – Ericsson 4
It was an historic moment tonight in St Petersburg, Russia, when as the
White Night turned to dawn the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, led by Telefónica
Black in a thrilling climax, crossed the tenth and final finish line of
this nine-month, 37,000 nm race around the world.
Spanish skipper, Fernando Echávarri said, ³It¹s a prize for all the crew and
all the shore crew. We have been trying to do it in all the legs but
couldn¹t; this was our last chance. We had a nice battle with PUMA in the
last 100 miles. We are really happy.
“It has been really difficult. We prepared the boat for light conditions and
the first 150 miles we had more wind than expected so we suffered a lot.
Then it got lighter and we got faster. We have been fighting with PUMA,
Telefónica Blue and Ericsson 3 for the last 250 miles. It has been really
close. It has been like a match race. I don¹t know how many tacks we have
done! It is a great way to finish the Volvo Ocean Race. I am really proud of
everyone in the group. They have done an excellent job.”
Victory for Telefónica Black was hard-fought and a match race developed with
PUMA, who had led the fleet for the majority of this 400-mile sprint from
Stockholm. At just after midnight GMT and while on the additional triangle
added to lengthen the course, Telefónica Black gained a small advantage,
which translated into a two and a half boat length win, denying PUMA a
second leg win in a row. However, with a total of 105.5 points, PUMA takes
second place overall.
PUMA skipper Kenny Read said: “Congratulations to all those guys, they have
worked very hard for their first leg win. We will take our second and our
second overall. You know what? We just sailed around the world. I guess I
said a thousand times that we know no other way but to make it hard for
ourselves. It¹s a shame, because we usually win these close battles and
today we didn¹t.
“The big picture is we finished this race, everyone is safe and the boat has
been spectacular. We flew the flag well for Volvo and I think we flew the
flag well for PUMA. We have everything to be proud of. Relief is the right
word. Right now, it is relief and, as always, we are a pretty tired group
onboard. Let the celebrations begin because all the group deserves it.”
Images by Dave Kneale and Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race
(click on image to enlarge )
Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) filled the third spot both on leg 10 and
overall, to close the team¹s account on 98 points.
Bekking said on finishing: “We’re tired and hungry! It has been full on.
Lots of tacking. It was a beautiful leg in that it was sunny. But we have
been a bit unlucky. That¹s how it goes. But well done to the Telefónica
Black boys, they deserved to win. They had a superb leg. Good for them. We
were all very close. It is a very nice feeling to have finished and got all
the boys home safely. We had a podium finish which is nice as well.”
Fourth place finishers tonight and fourth overall with 78.5 points was
Ericsson 3 and Swedish skipper, Magnus Olsson was exhausted. “I feel so
tired I cannot say anything! Everybody is happy because they have sailed
around the world, but they are also very tired. After a day or two we can
say more intelligent things. You always want to do well in every leg, but
this was special because it was the short one and the last one. We were up
there so we are happy, but we couldn¹t keep up until the finish. They beat
us fair and square.”
Runaway overall leaders, with a final tally of 114.5 points and nine points
clear of PUMA, Torben Grael and his 10 crew of Ericsson 4 finished this leg
in fifth place. In an interview with Guy Swindells, skipper Torben Grael,
who raced every offshore leg with the same crew, was reflective in his
comments as overall victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 finally became a
“I think it is a mixed feeling because we know this is the end of the story
for the project. It¹s a funny feeling because some of these guys you have
never met before and you become like brothers. Now we go our own ways and
it¹s a strange feeling.
“On the other hand it has been a long race. It was a very long race around
the world. We are completely drained and tired so I think everyone is
looking forward to a nice rest. We have had a wonderful time. We enjoyed our
training time in Lanzarote and the race as well. We have had our ups and
downs, but it has been fun. After we won, it was a bit of a relaxing leg. It
has been so intense and so consuming so I think it is normal that after you
achieve your goals you relax. I am very glad for Telefónica Black and
Fernando and his guys for winning this last leg.”
Green Dragon kept her slender lead over Delta Lloyd to finish the leg in
sixth place, and fifth overall with 67 points.
To conclude the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, Delta Lloyd, the only generation
one Volvo Open 70 to compete in the race, finished shortly after Green
Dragon to finish the race on a total of 41.5 points.
Skipper Roberto Bermúdez said: ³We made a good job and everyone enjoyed
their time. Everyone is happy and that is the most important thing. It
started well but then there was some fighting with the Dragons. They did a
fantastic job with the manoeuvres and I say congratulations to them for
that. It has been fun.²
Ian Walker, skipper of Green Dragon, should have the last word:
³It is a privilege to sail in this fantastic race and I am very proud to
have had the chance. I am proud of every member of our team, and I am proud
of what we have achieved together. We promised to give it everything and to
never, ever give up and that is exactly what we have done. We haven¹t won
this race, but we have won many battles and achieved more than many dreamed
possible. It has been a very special year.²
The full story of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 is chronicled in Mark
Chisnell¹s book, Spanish Castle to White Night, published in October. Order
your copy now: http://www.volvooceanrace.org/multimedia/book/
Overall Leaderboard (provisional)
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA): 114.5 points
2. PUMA (Ken Read/USA): 105.5 points
3. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED): 98.0 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE): 78.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR): 67.0 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP): 58.0
7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermudez/ESP): 41.5 points
8. Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT): 10.5 points
Leg Ten Finishing Order St Petersburg
1. Telefónica Black
3. Telefónica Blue
4. Ericsson 3
5. Ericsson 4
6. Green Dragon
7. Delta Lloyd