Skinny Sailing

Thus begins a time of hunger, but the trade-off is compelling: 10 days of sacrifice for the serious fun of sailing in a legendary Caribbean event with a group of dialed-in high-school sailors and the boat’s skilled and gracious owner, Mike Williams.The 37th annual St. Thomas Rolex International Regatta sees 66 boats racing in seven classes to compete for four Rolex timepieces. Walking into
Author:
Updated:
Original:
SAIP-101000-FErace-01_SI1

Thus begins a time of hunger, but the trade-off is compelling: 10 days of sacrifice for the serious fun of sailing in a legendary Caribbean event with a group of dialed-in high-school sailors and the boat’s skilled and gracious owner, Mike Williams.

The 37th annual St. Thomas Rolex International Regatta sees 66 boats racing in seven classes to compete for four Rolex timepieces. Walking into the clubhouse for weigh-in, I am impressed to see scores of volunteers diligently making last-minute preparations as a warm breeze fills the open-air clubhouse.

Our moment of truth comes as our last crewmember clocks in to give us a crew weight of 838 pounds—safe! Given that the forecast called for lighter-than-average winds, this feels like a good thing.

Twenty-four hours later, however, those 12 pounds are sorely missed as Red Dog, Williams’s IC24—a modified J/24 and the Caribbean’s most competitive class—bashes into 18 knots of wind and steep 3-foot seas near the starting area. “There’s another drink you owe me, Tyler!” exclaims Olin Davis, our bowman, as an errant wave soaks the foredeck. While the water might be warm here, Davis and Max Nickbarg—our spinnaker trimmer—expect great results and a dry ride from their skipper.

SAIP-101000-FErace-04_SI

Rice nails the pin-favored downwind start of the Town Race as Davis and Nickbarg pop the kite exactly on cue. We settle into 6 miles of sleigh ride along the island’s southeast coastline to Charlotte Amalie as Nickbarg and Williams keep the sails powered up. Rice keeps the wind indicator pegged due astern as we surf down the stubby seas. Despite our efforts, we can’t shake the competition: the entire fleet is sprinting within a few boat lengths of each other, with minimal passing opportunities. Even as we enter our first mark rounding, miles later, there’s virtually no separation.

The race committee divides the first day into three longer races—the downhill sprint to Charlotte Amalie, followed by two upwind races back to the yacht club—each of which features unusual course shapes, and uses the coastline and the surrounding smaller islands to create challenges and opportunities, especially on the close-winded legs.

“OK guys, we’re sailing windward-leewards today,” announces Rice as we sail to Great Bay, which is northeast of the yacht club, for the start of day two’s racing. “The race committee wants to get in eight races today.”

Related

CONNECTING-SHROUD-2048

Experience: Wild Ride

My Hartley 38, Moet, is pounding into massive Pacific Ocean seas. One week of continuous storm conditions has taken me 700 miles south of Fiji, heading for New Zealand. Every few seconds the bow lifts out of the water and hangs in midair for a moment while I tense my muscles, ...read more

01-LEAD-nSterling-ProCombi-S-2

Know-how: Inverter, Charger Combos Offshore

With solid-state inverters and domestic AC devices becoming increasingly efficient, it only makes sense for many sailors to install the necessary 120V AC power for the many appliances now finding their way onboard: including washing machines, TVs, microwave, laptops, chargers ...read more

IMG_5308

Chartering in the British Virgin Islands

Not for nothing are the BVI known as the “nursery slopes” of sailing charters. There simply is no better place to ease yourself into a first-time sailing vacation; for that matter, such is the appeal of these islands that many charterers return year after year. The islands ...read more

IMG_7831

Racing and Bareboat Chartering in the BVI

If not all who wander are lost, then not all who charter are content with sailing between snorkeling spots and sinking a few Painkillers at beach bars. Some want a dose of hard-sailing action blended in with their sunshine and warmth—the kind of action you can only get from ...read more

01-GMR19FP45_1194

Boat Review: Fountaine Pajot Elba 45

With new catamaran brands springing up like mushrooms, France’s Fountaine Pajot is something of an oak tree in the market, with a story that goes back to its founding in 1976. It is also one of the largest cat builders out there, sending some 600 boats down the ways in 2018. The ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Take no Chances This is my stern with the engine running slowly in gear against the lines. We all know that when we’re charging batteries this lets the engine warm up thoroughly. However, I have a ...read more

190910_ROSS_PORTSMOUTH_0187-2048x2048

Cup Boats Hit the Water

Emirates Team New Zealand may have been the first to launch a new-generation America’s Cup boat, but it was the New York Yacht Club’s challenger, American Magic, that had the last (first?) laugh. Just a few days after ETNZ’s radical-looking AC75 hit the water in mid-September, ...read more