Hosted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Virgin Gorda, the inaugural Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean attracted a full fleet of Swans from all over the world to the stunning British Virgin Islands for four full days of racing and cruising, whilst socialising shore side in ClubSwan style. The inaugural ‘Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean’ marked the culmination of a 30 year partnership between the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Nautor’s Swan and title sponsor Rolex, a long lasting relationship which has resulted in the most renowned Swan regattas ever held.
The calendar now includes the Rolex Swan Cup and Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean; run during alternate years in Porto Cervo (ITA) and the British Virgin Islands in odd years. The Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean combined competition in ideal sailing conditions and with a full social programme shore side for ClubSwan members and guests at the recently opened Yacht Club Costa Smeralda clubhouse. Based in one of the Caribbean’s most stunning natural harbours, this Swan event attracted owners from all over the world including Belgium, Italy, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Brazil, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Principal Race Officer, Peter Craig and his team from the YCCS organised four full days of racing around the stunning islands, as well as a cruising class for the less competitive Swans. “We have to make sure that we cater to the needs of all groups and we have easily done this at this venue, the high level competitors need tactically challenging racing in this area and the cruising class who can be novices need simpler courses set so they can have great fun”.
Sailors were not disappointed on day one of racing, as they were greeted with warm Caribbean breezes, turquoise waters and brilliant sunshine, setting a precedent for the week. The first half of the event opened with a building breeze from the East, before testing Swan crews with lighter, shifty conditions as the week progressed. The Race Committee took advantage of the conditions and set the racing divisions off around Virgin Gorda. Starting off the entrance to North Sound, the 25nm course was straight forward – Necker Island to starboard, Round Rock on the Southern tip of Virgin Gorda to port before turning North, back up Drakes Passage to leave the Dog Islands to port, finishing in front of the entrance to North Sound.
In the Swan Maxi Class, among the spectacular entrants was Swan 100 Varsovie, the largest entrant to the event, and Don Macpherson’s Swan 90 Freya. Built in 2012, Freya was the 2,000th Swan to leave the yard in Pietarsaari (FIN). Racing alongside Wendy Schmidt’s Swan 80 Selene, who has a history of sailing superbly in the Caribbean conditions having won the Swan Caribbean Challenge Trophy in 2012; Selene took the Dockwise Trophy for fastest elapsed time for the Round Virgin Gorda Race during the inaugural regatta.
The Swan 601 Stark Raving Mad owned and helmed by James Madden, made a strong start to the event holding second position after three days of racing. In seven knots of breeze, Stark Raving Mad started the final 11nm race with intent from the pin end of the line and quickly mounted an unbeatable lead. Final race victory combined with a second place for closest rival Swan 80 Selene decreed Madden’s crew as Class victors with an impressive 2-2-1-1 score line claiming the Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean Trophy for Class A.
James Madden reflected on the week: “The event has been fantastic, the racing has been tactically challenging as a lot of the boats are extremely well sailed and we knew that Selene was going to be very competitive. Despite the scenic courses, the island hopping made wind shifts and tidal currents all the more challenging adding to the enjoyment of the event. Our objective was to keep them behind us for as long as possible around the race track. Apart from winning the Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean Trophy – a highlight of the event was the Oil Nut Bay Beach Party, in such a stunning location!”
One Swan in particular took advantage of the events in the Caribbean in preparation for the Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean; Christian Reynolds’ Swan 51 Northern Child racing in Class B, who completed the RORC Caribbean 600 less than two weeks before, going on to compete in the St Maarten Heineken Regatta where they were joined by Swan 100 Varsovie, Swan 56 White Rhino and Swan 53 Lucy Reynolds from Swan 51 Northern Child commented: “This week has been superb, I love racing near the North Sound; it is just beautiful with such clear waters. The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda Virgin Gorda is very impressive and the facilities are fantastic. To top off such a wonderful week the parties have been second to none. I don’t think Nautor’s Swan or Rolex have ever let us down there!”
James Blakemore’s Swan 53 Music has had a string of successes in the Caribbean, winning their class at the St Maarten Heineken Regatta and finishing a close second in their Class at the Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean. James Blakemore commented: “The week has been fantastic, we had a couple of very good starts and our upwind racing was very fast – leading Class B around the windward mark on occasion and taking two race wins earlier on in the week. Despite not winning Class B overall it was still a wonderful achievement to come second. Conditions were perfect for racing, the courses were brilliant and I couldn’t think of a better way to see such beautiful Islands.”
Swan 53 Music were pressured by Phil Lotz and his crew on board Club Swan 42 Arethusa as the week progressed, with Arethusa taking the final race victory ensuring the Class B win, by a single point. “Conditions were perfect for us in the final race” enthused Lotz; “we got a good start at our favoured end of the line. The first beat was clean which was important in a fleet with so many big boats. We wanted to sail as cleanly as possible.” Arethusa, like Stark Raving Mad, displayed persistence and harmonious teamwork, seizing the favourable shift in wind conditions as the week progressed. Arethusa’s intention is to defend her crown during the next edition in 2015.
The Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean certainly provided a week of varied racing and cruising. In true ClubSwan style, the exclusive social programme lived up to expectations with Swan owners and guests kicking things off with the Opening Reception and Welcome Cocktails on Monday, and the Oil Nut Bay Beach Party with a live band on Tuesday evening. Competitors were aptly welcomed back to shore after the Round Virgin Gorda race on Wednesday with ClubSwan Cocktails on the dock, followed by a fiercely contested cocktail competition. Before the final day of racing, everyone enjoyed the Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean gala dinner at the YCCS Clubhouse set in the stunning location overlooking the North Sound of Virgin Gorda.
The Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean final prize giving saw the presentation of the bespoke, handcrafted Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean trophy to Swan Maxi Class winner Swan 601 Stark Raving Mad and Class B winner Club Swan 42 Arethusa. The week demonstrated ClubSwan at its best, united through both competition and the series of elegant and popular social gatherings throughout the week. Don Macpherson, Swan 90S Freya, values the inclusion of the Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean to his agenda; “this has been a marvellous week and we have had so much fun. This is a great programme, very well organised and professionally put together; there has been a lot of good competition and excellent fun, we have had a Sportsmanship and teamwork were displayed both on and off the water and the ClubSwan spirit demonstrated by the camaraderie in the additional five-strong cruising class which engaged in their own competition, representing the values of gentlemanly sailing so typical of the Swan world.
Norbert Murray, owner of Swan 56 Tenacity and winner of the ClubSwan Concors d’Elegance Award for the incredible refit undertaken on his Swan, has been a positive light hearted personality as part of the cruising class for a number of years, the Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean is definitely another favourite
for him; “We have been racing with friends and family this week and have been enjoying staying on board our Swan, we like the cruising division it saves the crystal aboard. We were being beaten by a turtle on one day for a while but we eventually caught up and passed him!”
The Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean mirrors the enduring esteemed reputation of all Swan events, offering ClubSwan members and friends the opportunity to reconvene in an idyllic environment for a week of socialising with great racing on the water. The next edition of the Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean will be in March 2015, another event not to be missed.
2013 Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean Overall Results
Place, Boat, Owner, Races 1-2-3-4-5, Total Points
1. Stark Raving Mad (USA), James C. Madden, 2- 2- 1-1, 6 points
- Selene (CAY), Wendy Schmidt, 1- 1- 2- 2, 6 points
3. Fenix (GBR), NS60-008 Ltd, 3- 3- 3- 3, 12 points
1. Arethusa (USA), Philip Lotz, 3- 2 -1- 1, 7 points
2. Music (GBR), James Blakemore, 1- 1- 2- 4, 8 points
3. Island Water World (USA), Nautor Swan Benelux, 6- 4- 3- 2, 15 points
1. Eclipse (FIN), Matti Rajala, 1-2-1-1, 4.25 points
2. Lianda (USA), Marc Busschots, 1-4-3-2, 9.25 points
3. Hokusai (FIN), Kai Jaara, 1-1-DNC-DNC, 13.25 points
Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean – Photography
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