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The cup and the rose.




Roger Sturgeon is a numbers man. He has fine-tuned his numerical skills in industry and defence over many decades working amongst the intellects of California's Silicon Valley. He is also a man of the sea, having raced in a host of signature ocean races, not just in American waters but increasingly in the cut and thrust of international competition. Having just added the coveted Tattersall's Cup for 2007 to his international trophy cabinet, Roger and his team are dearly thinking ahead of the fleet when it comes to the winning formula. Rosebud, the first STP65 out on the course, is certainly making the ocean-racing community pay attention. Roger's team has succeeded in matching ocean-racing skill and experience with the very latest yacht design and construction technology, and through careful analysis of the international IRC design rules, have applied the rating opportunities to maximum advantage.

Although now an accomplished ocean-racing yachtsman, Roger didn't grow up sailing dinghies or small skiffs like many of us who love the sea. He has nevertheless been at it most diligently for over a quarter century, having bought his first yacht, a used Santa Cruz 27 called Mystery Eagle in 1981, and joined the Santa Cruz Yacht Club on Monterey Bay in California.


"The fleets were much larger in those days," said Roger, "but our progress was steady and eventually we were able to win the club's SC27 One Design Series. We had wins in the local match racing and the biggest win in that boat was the Alcatraz Cup in a summer Friday night series at Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco.

"Later I co-owned another Santa Cruz 27 called Hanalei Express with Rob Schuyler, also a member of SCYC. My favourite win with that boat was the Santa Cruz 27 National Championships at Huntington Lake in the high sierras of California. Starting with Rob, I was seldom the driver because I was always better as the tactician.

"Eventually I ordered a Santa Cruz 52, which was the first to be called Rosebud. As we intended to have a less than maximum-sized boat for offshore racing, then that would make it a smaller-sized 'sled'. The most obvious name for such a childhood dream would of course be Rosebud from the movie Citizen Kane. The last scene of the movie shows his 'flexi-flyer' sled burning in a big blaze revealing the name and its symbolic logo of a rosebud. We took the font and the logo and colorised it! So full credit goes to those who remember this sled!

"My favourite win with this first Rosebud was the St. Francis Perpetual Trophy in the 1999 Big Boat Series and concurrently the Santa Cruz 52 National Championship. This boat allowed me to do many offshore races including a Pacific Cup and many California to Mexico races." Roger's next step up was to a purely racing yacht, again called Rosebud.

"This was the fifth TP52 built which allowed level racing within the class," he said. "My thought was to be the fastest boat in B fleet (and thus first to the bar), leaving the longer boats in A fleet. You could not always control the handicaps but it was always fun to be fast. The TP52 was certainly the biggest little boat ever (often acting like a dinghy) but I soon found out that it was also the smallest big boat. Because of its performance, we most often raced in A fleet. It took us about a year to get our act together and get more professional but eventually this boat was arguably the most successful of that period. It not only took class honours but frequently took some form of overall honours. My favourite memory for the TP52 was the dual overall wins of Bermuda and the Transpac races. My research shows that this was the only boat to ever win both of these regattas overall. It was even better because it was my first try at each and had little expectation of such a feat. I was supposed to sell the boat after the Transpac but I just could not let it go yet (and we were not sure what to build next). We kept the boat through its final Caribbean series ending up with a magical overall win at Antigua Race Week.


"As I was getting older and technology was ever improving the new TP52s, it was time to get a boat longer than my age. There was a lot of talk about a new box rule boat around 65 feet (approximately 20 metres) so that's where our team focused next. Through the diligent and difficult work of the Storm Trysail and Transpac Yacht Clubs, the various designers and the sailing community, a consensus was reached on the STP65 design. Since I was in position to move quickly, I 'volunteered' to be the first STP65, to be again called Rosebud. The STP65 design was selected because it was longer, faster, simpler and better able to handle the most difficult yacht races in the world than my previous TP52 (besides, anything bigger would undoubtedly bust my budget). You never know how handicapping is going to treat you so you better enjoy the ride!

"The philosophy of the STP65 is the same as the TP52, only it's now a boat more fitting to my age. We chose the centre of the box because we wanted an all-round boat that could compete in any regatta in the world. The concept was to keep it simple yet fast. Yes, we can't cant (the keel) but we like it that way.

The boat went through some learning curve breakdowns so the first few regattas were difficult yet rewarding. My wife Isobel races the day races but not the long distance races. It was her analysis of our possible schedules that made it imperative that we go to Australia in spite of the high costs. We knew that new STP65s would have the advantage of time so our best chance was to improve the team by facing the best competition in the world. At that point Australia became mandatory for the overall program. The trip far exceeded every goal we set for ourselves and we thank the Australian people for all their warmth, kindness and extreme competitiveness. Australia is a 'must do' for any serious racer. For us, it is a 'must do again.'"


Asked whether the Rolex Sydney Hobart was as challenging as expected, Roger replied, "The race was more difficult than I expected, but of course I knew it could be even worse. We were well prepared for anything but you can never be prepared for everything. Nature always has a way to make you humble."

And what's next for Rosebud?

"On to Newport, then Bermuda, the Maxi Worlds in Sardinia, and then the Middle Sea race in Malta," said Roger, "and then we hope to return as soon as possible to Australia but we are quite budget limited. With a new fleet of STP65s on the way, we hope to convince them to go to Australia for all it has to offer. Sydney is a dream harbour and yacht racing does not have a better venue nor with better people, but Hobart had the fans up close and involved with all the proceedings. I will never forget the reception we had in Hobart and this was well before we could begin to think we had won."

For further information on Rosebud Racing visit


SC52 and TP52, both Rosebud


Key West Race Week--1st in Class

Pineapple Cup--2nd in Fleet

Chicago to Mackinac--1st in Class, 2nd to Finish (1st in Americap Finish)

Harbor Springs Regatta--1st Overall

St. Petersburg to Isla Mujeres--1st to Finish, 2nd in Fleet

SORC--1st in Class, Governors Trophy (best overall)

Big Boat Series--1st in Class, St. Francis Perpetual Trophy

Ft. Lauderdale to Palm Beach--1st in Class


Ft. Lauderdale to Key West--1st in Class

Heineken Regatta, St. Maarten--2nd in Class

International Rolex Regatta, St. Tornas--2nd in Class

BVI Spring Regatta--1st in Class

Antigua Race Week--1st in Class

Newport to Bermuda--1st Overall, Gibbs Hill

Lighthouse Trophy, 1st in TP52 Class, 5th to Finish

New York Yacht Club Spring Regatta--2nd in TP52 Class

Big Boat Series--3rd in TP52 Class


Transpac--1st Overall, 1st in Class


Ft. Lauderdale to Key West--2nd in Class

BVI Spring Regatta--1st in Class

Antigua Race Week--1st Overall, 1st in Class



Hoag Cup, Newport Beach, CA--1st in Class

Long Beach Race Week--4th in Class (Five 1st places after not competing on first day)

Transpac--3rd to Finish, 3rd in Class, 1st to Finish less than 72 feet

SOLAS Big Boat Challenge, Sydney 1st Overall

Rolex Trophy Rating Series, Sydney--1st Overall

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race--1st Overall, 1st in Class



Roger Sturgeon--Owner/Skipper, Isobel Sturgeon--Owner/Crew on buoy races. Her opinion matters as much or more than anyone else in the program;

David Cardinali--Managing Director--Handles all payments to boatyards, crew; fills out race entries; secures insurance (does all the behind the scene stuff that keeps the program running); makes most monetary decisions; helps co-ordinate logistics and create projections; at race locations, David is the buffer between crew and owner;

Malcolm Park--Project Manager (Main Trimmer)--Does crew negotiations; handles most media requests; the team's technical and political representative; creates projections with Dave for Roger to assess upcoming schedules; was intricately involved in the build of the boat; helps choose hotels and coordinate logistics and much, much mote;

Jack Halterman (Helmsman)--Roger's oldest sailing partner and his right-hand man. Jack was also intricately involved ill the build of the boat and knows it inside and out; always fills the gaps where the others overlook something; almost always involved in the commissioning and decommissioning of the boat and onboard for most deliveries.


Jimmy Slaughter--Boat Captain (Grinder/Hydraulics Specialist)--Jimmy has been the Boat Captain since the campaign began ill June 2007 and has been nothing short of spectacular;

Kevin Miller--Tactician--Kevin has been sailing with Rosebud since the TP52 version in 2003; he has missed only a couple of regattas with the program since then;

Tom Addis--Navigator--Tom has sailed with Rosebud only once before but in that previous race he guided the TP52 Rosebud to an overall win in the 2005 Transpac. Results like that speak for themselves;

Justin Clougher--Bowman--Justin has done every race with the new STP65 (since Jnne 2007) and also did one previous race with the TP52 Rosebud in 2005; nickname 'Juggy;'

Mikey Joubert--Mastman--Mikey has done all the races with the STP65 and did three races with the TP52 in 2004;

Keats Keeley--Mastman Keats has been with the Rosebud program since we had the TP52; he also rarely misses a regatta;

John Hayes--Jib "Dimmer--John has been racing with the program since 2004. Also now rarely misses a race;

Anthony Merrington--Spinnaker Trimmer-Anthony has done all but two regattas with the STP65 Rosebud; an Australian, he helped the campaign with his knowledge of Sydney Harbour and Australian waters; nickname 'Youngster;'

Andy Meildejohn--Pitman--Ausualia was Andy's first three races with the program; an extremely hard worker;

Wade Morgan--Grinder--Same as Andy, Australia was Wade's first three races with the Rosebud program; he provided local knowledge; nickname 'Bubs;'

Mark Callahan--The Rolex Sydney Hobart was Mark's second race with the STP65; he only did the Hobart in Australia, not the SOLAS or Big Boat Challenge; another hart worker with a great attitude.

Speaking of Rosebud's crew, Roger said, "As you can see, a lot of our crew stay with the program. There are usually three or four spots that we try to have locals on board, however those locals arc generally sailors who have sailed with the program in the past. Using locals saves the program costs on rooming and airfares and if we can find good quality and save some money, we are always going to do that. I think it's rare in sailing to see a crew made up of the same guys over and over again. The boat clearly reaps the benefits of these guys knowing not only their physical positions on the boat but also their roles on the boat. The chemistry onboard is amazing. They are always thinking three to four steps ahead and many of them could sail in any position on the boat."
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Skipper
Author:Twibill, Anthony
Publication:Offshore Yachting
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Feb 1, 2008
Previous Article:From thrills in Sydney to a heartfelt Hobart welcome.
Next Article:Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2007.

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