The IC24 Sailboat has become the most popular one-design keelboat class in the Caribbean.

The IC24 concept originated in St.Thomas where Chris Rosenberg identified the need for an affordable one-design ‘open cockpit’ keelboat.  Hurricane Marilyn had brutally taken out most of the St.Thomas YC racing fleet and keelboat racing had effectively ground to a halt.  Yacht club members were literally scratching their heads wondering where to go next.

Chris Rosenberg worked with ace St.Thomian sailor and boat builder Morgan Avery.  They decided to come up with a design to convert an old but rugged J24, that had survived the hurricane, into a comfortable five-person, user-friendly ‘inter-club’ keelboat.

This is where the contemporary boat builder shows us his skills. Morgan Avery built the mold that has been used to laminate 38 decks so far.  The mold was used to build the St.thomas fleet and then came to Tortola where Chris Spencer of BVI Painters rattled off 12 decks for the BVI fleet. It is now in Puerto Rico Rico (Sept 2007) where Fraito Lugo and his father are halfway through building their fleet of 12 boats.

The build process starts by spending an intense half hour-or-so cutting everything from about 18″ aft of the mast out of the donor J/24. Yes folks, that means the kitchen sink too.  Now, with perfect access to the interior, renovations to the bulkheads, core and the floorpan supporting the keel can take place.  Before the new deck is bonded in place the entire interior is epoxy painted.  Now the flange where the new deck is to be bonded in is carefully prepped.

The deck fills the rather large hole you have created exactly, sometimes a cargo strap or two will ensure this is the case.  It is bonded in with structural epoxy and a few bulkheads are thrown in-and-around to continue joining the new deck to the old J24.  Then the entire ensemble, including the original foredeck that has had its gel coat anti-skid ground away gets sprayed with pearl grey awlgrip and beads. (Click image for larger view)

Why grind the foredeck? Show me a 25 year old J24 that has no soft spots up front!  Core repairs are always required in our experience.  Additionally you can’t beat a professionally applied awlgrip non-skid finish for looks and traction.  Your shorts wear out pretty quickly though!

The topsides and the rudder get awlgrip, any colour.  Now fit brand new Harken fittings everywhere and rig new halyards, sheets and control lines.  You have already spent a few days restoring the mast and boom.   They get two coats of epoxy paint, all sheaves rolling and new standing rigging.  The stanchion bases are new and custom made.

The boat looks like new. Add some new sails and there you have it, a sexy new IC24, ready for action.  We started selling them at $18,500 but the asking price has now climbed to $25,000 minus sails and a race bottom.  Each boat built pays a royalty to Chris Rosenberg who holds the patent.

There are 15 boats in St.Thomas, 14 in the BVI, 5 in P.Rico (soon to be 10) and 2 at the BEYC, Virgin Gorda.  Chris Rosenberg’s vision is to see healthy IC24 fleets dotted around the Caribbean.  The new ‘Flying Tiger’ will be stiff competition but the BVI, St.Thomas and Puerto Rico fleets are well established.

Sailing an IC24 is not unlike sailing a J24. No surprises there. The big difference is the comfort level.  The mainsheet has no track, there is nothing to bang into.  The 100% jib is easily winched in on the windward side.  The boat is rigged for a spinnaker and they are being used more and more at local regattas. It was always Chris Rosenberg’s intention to use the IC24 as an entry-level race boat.  You really don’t have to be Russell Coutts or Peter Holmberg to do well!

We have our own rules that have been adapted from the J24 rules, we have a class association, a technical committee and measurers. So get on down to the NE Caribbean and see these beauties for yourself! Vistors will always get a ride.

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