On March 25-27, the St. Thomas Rolex Regatta marked its 38th anniversary with three days that represented the very best in Caribbean racing. Steady breezes building from 12 knots to the high teens throughout the event, sunny afternoons, a varied and highly competitive fleet, excellent race committee work and parties that were neither too big nor too small, but just right: it would be hard to imagine a better sailing experience.
Among the many standouts in this year’s 77-boat fleet—which included everything from the 90-foot maxi Genuine Risk to a group of nine hardy beach cat crews—were a number of charter boats crewed by sailors from Safe Passage Sailing, Girlsforsail and Ondeck. More than just bareboat charters, these companies make dreams come true by allowing sailors from all walks of life to experience the kind of sailing typically only available to the wheeled-heeled or pros.
For the St. Thomas Rolex, Safe Passage had two boats on hand. The first, former maxi champion Kialoa V, was under the leadership of America’s Cup veteran Rich Stearns and British pro Brian Thompson, recently returned from Banque Populaire V’s failed Jules Verne round-the-world record attempt. The second, the Swan 51 Northern Child, was under the leadership of Suzette “Hau’oli” Smith, a veteran of the America’s Cup boat Mighty Mary.
On Deck had Spirit of Juno, one of its veteran Farr 65 sloops, on hand, and Girlsforsail’s all-female crew sailed the Elan 37 Diamonds Are Forever.
Other standouts in this year’s regatta included Willem Wester’s Grand Soleil 43 Antilope, which swept IRC 2 with straight bullets, and Jorge Ramos’ Hobie 16 Universal, which won all but one race in the beach cat class. The TP52 Vesper did equally well in IRC2, taking a second in the first race and then all bullets from then on. It was the same thing in the CSA Spinnaker 3 Division, which went to Timothy Molony’s chartered JOD 36 Wild at Heart.
"This was our first time to this part of the world," said Antilope’s Wester, who sailed with a crew from Belgium and Holland that included veteran Volvo Ocean Race skipper Bouwe Bekking and Olympian Philippe Bergmans. "The whole atmosphere here was fantastic, with the race committee setting some wonderful courses."
For more on this year’s St. Thomas Rolex Regatta, click here.