Black Tie 2005 National
Inland 20 Scow Sailing
Friday was a beautiful day: sunny and warm. The grass was green, flowers and bushes were in bloom, and the trees were fully leafed out. Unfortunately, we had ample time to enjoy all this as there was no wind. It was a great day and place for walking, and Leigh got in some good bird watching. It was however an enjoyable day to look over the new boats and visit with friends as there were people from Ohio, Oklahoma, Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Eric Hall from New York crewing for George Winters: and do they ever make a good team! About 5:00 p.m. a light breeze came in from the South. Of the approximately 60 boats at the regatta, five I-20's enjoyed a "shake down" sail and put on a colorful display for all those sitting on shore.
Saturday was sunny and came in with wind of it's own. The first race was started in 10-15 mph and building. The first start of the season was aggressive and "all clear." Alec and Anita had a jump on everyone. The racing was close on the first lap with David Crosby (newest I-20 member, new boat, first time out)! sailing in the middle of the fleet. On the second lap John-Jim and Steve-Leigh started to move out in front. Steve-Leigh then did something that resulted in a double capsize: John-Jim won the first race. The second and last race of the day started with the wind strengthening to (depending on which gage you read and who told you what) from 15 to 30+. Alec-Anita capsized as did Rudy-Stan Nieves (from Oklahoma). This second race was won by Bill Monsma with John Hayashi crewing.
Saturday afternoon there was a great social gathering at Grant's motor home as a preliminary to some going to the Black Tie party, several doing some "hot go-cart racing" which was reported to have gone into the wee hours of the morning, and others retired early.
Sunday was cloudy with storms predicted for the afternoon. Winds were about 10 at the start of the first race. Racing was very close between 8 I-20's, and very tactical as the fleet sailed from the same start line (had there own start) and on the same course as 23 C's and 26 MC's. Being faster both down and up wind in these conditions than the other two fleets, the I-20's seemed to often be in traffic which added another dimension to the race. In this first race of the day Grant-Carolyn won on his new boat yet to be named. In the second and last race Sunday, the wind was from the mid-high teens and building with puffs of "blast" proportions. The race was a gut buster on the beats, and a screamer on the runs. The race leaders changed several times. Joe-LaCinda found the going slow when they shrimped their spinnaker, George-Eric did an "almost capsize" with a cleated jib sheet, and when in the lead, David-Chris did a spectacular capsize while jibing the chute. When watching from shore as I did, it was absolutely impressive to watch the I-20's with bows raised high off the water, to seem to skim across the water and past the other fleets so effortlessly and without concern: yea right!!!, we all know the work for both crew and skipper with in a blow. But sure was pretty to watch! Bill-John put together a survival program and took another first place.
Bill Monsma skippered a boat new to him with John Hayashi as crew to an impressive 1st place in the regatta. "Light weights" Steve-Leigh were impressive in "rebounding" to a second place finish, with George-Eric sailing extremely well and consistently (4-4-2-4) for a third place overall.
As a final note: recognition and appreciation goes to Aaron Lynn for taking on a crew he did not know and who had never been on an I-20; Terry from St. Louis. Terry wanted to experience the I-20, and Aaron certainly gave him quite a ride. Terry may now be interested in an I-20 of his own - thanks Aaron.
Special mention, recognition, and a real commendation goes to the four women: Anita, Carolyn, LaCinda, Leigh, all who sailed every race. Every one of them were encouraging, optimistic, and came back to the docks soaked and with pleasant smiles. Great job ladies!!! Love having you there!
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For Richard Shulman (Riverside, R.I.), winning skipper on the IMX 45 Temptress in Spinnaker Racing Class 2, Good Friday lived up to its name for the regattaís opening day. He and his all-Rhode Island crew posted victories in two of three short-course races -- their flawless boat handling and decision making aided by two decades of sailing together. It was during the second dayís racing, which featured a spectator-friendly course that skirted the south shore of St. Thomas and finished just inside the harbor at Charlotte Amalie, that Shulmanís childlike enthusiasm for where he was and what he was doing bubbled over.
"I actually gave up the helm at one point," said Shulman, "because I wanted to just sit on the rail and look around. Itís my first time sailing in this event, and the scenery is just so amazing."
To get back home that day, the fleet reversed course after restarting in the shadows of the magnificent cruise ships berthed in the harbor. The two-hour slog against 12-15 knot headwinds -- the antithesis to the easy mix of downwind and reaching angles that had preceded it -- was longer than some might have liked, but Shulman, back at the regatta beach party after adding two more victories to his lineup, didnít seem to mind. "I mean, weíre racing in the Caribbean, whatís there to complain about? And weíre winning; so we really canít complain. Iím absolutely thrilled."
The next dayís traditional Pillsbury Sound Race wove through and around the islands, bringing forth all the colors associated with Easter day when the boats launched their spinnakers against a relentlessly blue sky. At dayís end, winners in nine classes -- including Shulman -- received Rolex Submariner watches as prizes, another tradition that sets this Caribbean regatta apart from the others.
Tom Hillís Puerto Rican entrant, Titan 12, continued its recent string of regatta wins by turning in an awesome performance in Spinnaker Racing Class 1, reserved for the fleetís five largest boats. The 75-foot Reichel/Pugh design posted six victories in as many races, showing that boat handling, as much as spot-on navigation, was the name of the game.
"We nailed the starts in all three short-course races and led from the get-go," said Titanís navigator Peter Isler (San Diego, Calif.). "It was really incredible when the race committee shortened the weather legs to one mile. It took us only 6 1/2 minutes to go downwind and less than ten minutes to go back up, so it put a lot of pressure on the crew to deal with the spinnaker. On a 75-foot sled thatís pretty hard to do, but the crew was up to the task."
Another team to post a perfect scoreline was Enrique Figueroa, a multiple world and national catamaran champion who has represented his country in the Olympics four times, and his wife Carla. The Puerto Rican couple, sailing their Hobie Cat 16 Suzuki/Red Bull in the Beach Cat Class, went so far as to take line honors from the biggest cat, a 20-footer, in the final race, passing it in a brilliant display of talent within 200 yards of the finish line.
"We donít normally cross the finish line first, because we are one of the smallest boats," said Figueroa, explaining that the beach cats, like all but two of the regattaís nine classes, depend on a handicap rating system to determine finish positions. "We normally just work to keep as close as possible, but they flipped, we passed them, they caught us again, and then we passed them at the end." The episode will stand out as a favorite for Figueroa, even though he has won this event more times than he can remember.
Some of the closest competition in the regatta took place in Spinnaker Racing Class 3 where, up until the last day, Don Q Limon, a Melges 24 skippered by Puerto Ricoís Enrique Torruella, had managed to keep a one point lead over Mistress Quickly, another Melges 24 owned by Guy Eldridge of Tortola. In a last-race showdown, Mistress Quickly hunted down Don Q Limon at the start, ultimately finishing second to Don Q Limonís third. In overall scoring, the boats shared the same number of points but Mistress Quickly won the regatta on a tiebreaker. Eldridge has been aboard a winning boat at the International Rolex Regatta before but received the Rolex watch for his efforts this time. "Iím real pumped about that," said Eldridge.
It was also "do or die" on the last day for the IC-24s, uniquely altered J/24s that are indigenous to the area and draw an abundance of local talent to their sailing ranks. While the other classes sailed the Pillsbury Sound race, the IC-24 sailors -- 16 in all -- did their own thing on a separate race circle, turning in three buoy races to complete a nine-race series. Winning the regatta by a single point was Sea Hawk, skippered by three-time Olympian Robby Hirst (Tortola, BVI) and his brother Michael. Though short-course racing was its focus, the IC-24 fleet proved fiercely competitive in the second dayís distance racing as well. As St. Thomas skipper John Holmberg explained, "We were 16 boats wide at the start, and then rounding the next buoy three miles away, we were still 16 boats wide."
In the other one-design class for J/24s, Fraito Lugo, sailing his Puerto Rican entrant Orion, counted a DNS (Did Not Start) in his first race for going to the wrong race circle, but he went on to win five of his next six races. The performance gave his veteran team the top spot on the leader board and Lugo, a multiple past winner at this event, his sixth Rolex watch.
Lost Horizon II, an Olson 30 skippered by James Dobbs (Antigua) posted five bullets in six races to win Spinnaker Racing Class 4, while the First 40.7 Lazy Dog, skippered by Sergio Sagramoso (San Juan, PR), topped the Spinnaker Racer/Cruiser Class. In Non-Spinnaker Racing Class, Antonio and Ellen Sanpereís (Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI) Soverel 27 Cayennita prevailed to win. Said a delighted Antonio, who sailed in the very first International Rolex Regatta in 1974: "I guess you could say Iíve been waiting 32 years to win this Rolex."
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