WINNERS NAMED IN 46th ST. THOMAS INTERNATIONAL REGATTA

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Clouds and a couple of squalls sent windy curve balls across the courses set for the 50-plus boats racing in the 46th St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR). STIR, long known as the ‘Crown Jewel of Caribbean Yacht Racing’, lived up to its reputation by delivering professionally-set round-the-rocks and round-the-buoy courses, the natural attributes of wind, sun and seas, and first-class competition and camaraderie. However, the big story of the final day of racing was all about the wind.

“We had light air and heavier air, a little big of everything,” says David Tower, tactician aboard St. Thomas’ Peter Corr’s King 40, Blitz, winner of the CSA Spinnaker 1 class. “Today, when the squall blew through in the second race of the day, winds hit over 30 knots. We broached and briefly had a man overboard situation. But, there was no damage, no one was hurt and the team recovered quickly to carry on and finish sixth. Overall, it was a really amazing regatta.”

Blitz tied on points with Antigua’s Pamala Baldwin’s J/122, Liquid. However, Blitz had the greater number of firsts to win the tie-breaker to Liquid’s second place. Belgium’s Philippe Moorgat’s Swan 45, Samantaga, came in third.

In the CSA Spinnaker Racing 2 class, St. Croix’s Mackenzie Bryan drove the J/100, Bad Girl, to a first place finish.

“That squall today was as windy as I’d seen it the entire regatta. So much so that we decided not to hoist the spinnaker on the first run and we were still flying,” says Bryan, who served as a junior crew several years ago when Bad Girl also won her class. “Our strategy was to have good boat handling, minimize mistakes and stay out of the current. The effect of the current was huge.”

St. John’s Mike Feierabend’s J/24, Bravissimo ended second, with the BVI’s Henry Leonnig’s Melges 24, Fire Water, third.

The only boat in the regatta to earn all first place finishes handily won the CSA Non-Spinnaker class. What’s more, Touch2Play, a Reflex 38 owned by Canada’s Rob Butler, was a double winner. That’s because Butler personally donates money to Canadian breast cancer research based on how many times the boat wins a race and a regatta. Thus, with one regatta win and six individual race wins, the contribution was sizable.

“The squall that blew through really shuffled the fleet on that last race,” says Larry Huibers, who helmed. “Spirit of Juno (Ondeck Antigua’s Farr 65) liked the big air, went flying and in 15 minutes had jumped ahead to Two Brothers rocks. Then, the wind died. It hurt Juno the most and chewed about 7 minutes out of their corrected time. That was an advantage for us.”

Wild T’ing, St. Thomas’ Lawrence Aqui’s Dufour 40, took second in class, with Ondeck racing’s Spirit of Juno third.

The 18-boat IC24s were likely the most competitive class. In fact, it came down to the last race, on the last day, after 12 races for the winner to be decided. And, that winner was not the boat that led the first two days of racing.

“We started four points behind Sembrador going into today,” says Fraito Lugo, who skippered Orion, along with crew who included his 16-year-old son, Alejandro, and 11-year-old daughter, Alejandra. “Our strategies were starting clear, hitting the left side of the course and starting to the leeward side of Sembrador so we could get control over him with the air. We did that and closed the gap to two points going into the last race. We were prepared if he tried to match race, but he didn’t. He ended up starting late and sailing way to the south. In the end, we won by 7 points.”

There were two multihull classes in this year’s STIR: Beach Cats and Hobie Waves.

St. John’s Dane Tarr won the Beach Cat class, with crew Tristan Ewald, aboard the Nacra 18 Infusion, Family Cruiser.

“We started to sail again 2 to 3 weeks ago,” says Tarr. “It was a boat that we were learning and we did flip before the first race on the first day. The second day was windier and we learned to fly our spinnaker. Today was really exciting with over 20 knots. It was all spin (flying the spinnaker) and win.”

Finally, it was St. Thomas’ Niall Bartlett who topped the 9-boat one-design Hobie Wave class.

“I’ve always liked one-design sailing, first in IC24s, then three years in Hobie 16s and now in the Hobie Waves,” says Bartlett. “The first day, we were pretty spread out as a class. Then today, all the boats started to bunch up together. We hope this class will grow to 12 or more boats for next year.”


LEADS LENGTHENED, LEADS OVERTAKEN – DAY 2

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Some of the 50-plus boats racing on the second day of the 46th St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), stretched their class leads. Others overtook fellow class competitors to jump into the lead. Either way, blue skies, warm seas and winds blowing steadily at 12 to 15 knots over the round-the-island and round-the-buoy courses proved fun for everyone in this St. Thomas Yacht Club-hosted event,.
 A good example of a lead stretch was St. Thomas’ Peter Corr’s King 40, Blitz, in CSA Spinnaker Racing 1. The Blitz team, an international contingent of crew from the USVI, USA, UK and Australia, tied on points after the first day with Antigua’s Pamala Baldwin’s J/122 Liquid. Today, Blitz won the class’s two races thus posting a two-point lead over Liquid.
Meanwhile, the USA’s Ron Zarrella’s team aboard his custom-designed, 49-foot, cold-molded racer/cruiser, Blackfish, maintained a middle of the class position. Yet, they enjoyed a winning day in their own way.

“The racing today, off St. John and in Pillsbury Sound, has to be the most scenic courses I’ve ever done,” says Zarrella, who is competing in STIR for his first time. “We usually sail in the classic yacht regattas, so we weren’t necessarily expecting to win. But, we really wanted to experience this (racing in the Caribbean in STIR).”

In the CSA Spinnaker Racing 2 class, it was a case of overtaking rather than lead stretching for the St. Croix-based team aboard the J/100, Bad Girl. Bad Girl, with Mackenzie Bryan at the helm, had a tough time on the regattas first race on Friday and needed to retire. The young Crucians, almost all 20-somethings that grew up sailing together in dinghies, came back strong with nothing less than first place finishes. As a result, Bad Girl pushed St. John’s Mike Feierabend’s J/24, Bravissimo, to second. It’s a very close second as both boats are tied at 8-points each.
Stretch was the word in the CSA Non-Spinnaker class as the team aboard Canada’s Rob Butler’s Reflex 38 put a five-point spread between themselves and St. Thomas’ Lawrence Aqui’s Dufour 40, Wild T’ing. Wild T’ing is the defending champion in this class, so Sunday’s final day of racing should be highly competitive in this class.
Meanwhile, learning the art and science of sailboat racing was as good as winning aboard Sonoma, a Bristol 41.1 entered in the CSA Non-Spinnaker class. The vessel, a local charter yacht based on St. Croix owned by captain Craig Harms, is a platform for a sail training program for young Virgin Islanders who would like to work professionally in the marine industry.
“There’s regular sailing and then there’s racing, the two are very different. Racing is much more fast paced and it’s a lot of fun,” says Sonoma crew, Kahlil James.
Trimming the jib sheet is Darryl Donohue, Jr.’s job on Sonoma. “Sailing is new to me, and when I saw this program offered, I wanted to do it.”
Terrance Nelson, Jr., who wants to sail professionally says he’s discovered sailing is his calling. “I work at Gold Coast Yachts, so I viewed this opportunity as career development. I always wanted to sail, especially seeing it on TV and seeing it in person off St. Croix. I just wish I had started sailing when I was like age 6 or 7.”
In the IC24 class, Puerto Rican sailors dominated. Ramon Gonzalez and his crew aboard Sembrador didn’t stretch, but they did keep their lead. Closing the gap between first and second place to only four points was Fraito Lugo and his multi-class winning Orion team.
“The advantage for us in Puerto Rico was that our IC24 fleet wasn’t severely damaged by the hurricanes and we were sailing by December,” says Lugo, one of several sailors from Puerto Rico in the past two decades who dominated the J/24 class at international competitions like the Central American and Caribbean Games and Pan American Games. “The IC24 was a natural for us. The big difference though is that the IC is much easier to sail with kids just out of Optimists than the J/24. Ramon use to crew with us. Now he’s racing is own boat very well. We have several young teams now.”
St. John’s Dane Tarr continued dominating the Beach Cat class aboard his Nacra 18 Infusion, Family Cruiser.
Today was the first day of racing for the 9-boat one-design Hobie Wave class. St. Thomas’ PJ Zani topped the class with first in all but two races. The class features adult sailing as well as a combination of adults and children. One of the latter was St. Croix’s Tom Ainger, who traded off the helm with his 9-year-old son, Ian.
“In the morning, the class was spread apart. Then, we all started to bunch up and the class got more competitive. Probably more competitive than we’d like,” joked Ainger.
Competition concludes on Sunday. Racing starts at 11 a.m. An Awards Ceremony will take place at the St. Thomas Yacht Club starting at 6 p.m.

CHAMPAGNE SAILING CONDITIONS – DAY 1

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Caribbean perfect sailing conditions spelled a great day of racing for the 50-plus boats competing in the first day of the 46th St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), which takes place through Sunday. Warm trade winds blew an average of 12 to 15 knots with occasional gusts to 20 knots, seas were relatively calm at 2 to 4 feet, and the bright sun made for a balmy 80’s Fahrenheit. What really stood out as a signature feature of STIR was the race committees carefully planned round-the-island-, rocks- and cays-style courses that offered highly competitive racing in an extraordinarily scenic setting. Definitely the best of both worlds.

“The courses were awesome,” says St. John’s Mike Feierabend, who with his all St. John crew helmed his J/24, Bravissimo, to first after today’s two races in the CSA Spinnaker 2 class. “We really love going around the islands. The wind angles on the courses set by the race committee were especially nice.”

The four-boat CSA Spinnaker 2’s races were each nearly 10-nautical miles and wove around Dog Rock, Little St. James and Packet Rock off St. Thomas’ east end. Meanwhile, the eight boats in CSA Spinnaker 1 raced in the same vicinity, but these larger vessels were able to stretch their legs to a greater extent on a duo of longer courses that extended to Buck and Capella island’s off St. Thomas southern Caribbean Sea shore.

“We sailed well today,” says Antigua’s Pamala Baldwin, who raced aboard her J/122 Liquid. Liquid, crewed by several aspiring professional race boat crew, is second in class, yet tied at 5 points with class leader, St. Thomas’ Peter Corr’s King 40, Blitz. “We had a one-hour debrief yesterday after the Round the Rocks race and worked out the tweaks. Four of our sailors are new to the boat and we really came together as a team today.”
“Flying Jenny, the USA’s Sandra Askew’s C&C 30, also had a productive day, finishing third in the CSA Spinnaker 1 class. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Lipuscek’s Dark Star was fourth.

“Fantastic. A lot of fun. Great courses that were just the right distance with good angles to make it interesting. Conditions perfect for us. Great competition. This is what we liked best about today’s racing,” says Lipuscek, who is sailing his new MC38, for the second year in STIR. “We’re still learning the boat and continue to learn something new each day.”

Rob Butler’s Canadian-based Reflex 38, Touch2Play Racing, finished the day first in the CSA Non-Spinnaker class. This class sailed the same courses as the CSA Spinnaker 2 class.

Conditions and competition combined to make for razor-close sailing in the one-design IC24 class, which sailed 5 races on windward-leeward courses set in Great Bay.

“I like sailing my Melges 24 because it’s fun, but its even more incredible to have nearly 20 boats on the start line in the IC24 class,” says St. Maarten’s Frits Bus, sailing on Island Water World. “It’s unbelievable how close the racing is. You can take the lead one minute and the next be 6 boat lengths behind.”

Puerto Rico’s Ramon Gonzalez and his team on Sembrador are leading the IC24 class, with four first place finishes in five races.

In the Beach Cat class, St. John’s Dane Tarr is in the lead aboard his Nacra 18 Infusion, Family Cruiser. The Beach Cats sailed the same courses as the IC24s.

Round-the-island courses are something that USA-based PRO (Principal Race Officer) Dave Brennan has been setting for the past several years at STIR.

“Sailing here is special and even more so when racing around the islands rather than marker buoys. These types of courses make it more fun for the average sailor, who wants to sail with friends, especially those who don’t have a lot of expertise with windward-leeward courses. We really work hard to set different types of courses each day. It’s more fun this way and truly something special,” says Brennan.

Competition will continue Saturday and finish on Sunday. Racing starts at 11 a.m. each day.


BLITZ, SPIRIT OF JUNO WIN CLASSES IN ROUND THE ROCKS RACE

Ten boats had a great chance to warm up and shake down during today’s Round The Rocks race, a one-day circumnavigation of the neighboring 19 square mile island of St. John. This fourth annual event has proven especially popular as a preface to the traditional three-day St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), which takes place Friday through Sunday, from the St. Thomas Yacht Club. Two teams were especially stoked by the day’s racing: those on St. Thomas’ Peter Corr’s King 40, Blitz, which won the Spinnaker class and Antigua-based Farr 65, Spirit of Juno, one of Ondeck’s race charter vessels helmed by Arran Chapman, which topped the Non-Spinnaker class.
“We had a bad start after getting squeezed at the pin end, but it enabled us to break free and get into good breeze,” explains Blitz’s Corr, whose crew hails from the USVI, USA, UK and Australia. “After that, we had good speed up the southside of St. John, then the breeze died. We saw it drop to as low as 6 knots. That had the effect of bunching the fleet together, yet we remained in the lead. Then, around the north side of St. John we sailed very close to Next (the USA’s Ryan Walsh and Jon Desmond’s KP 36) because they were good downwind, while we had better speed on the upwind. In the end, we ran for home and stayed in the lead.”
Corr continues, “It was a good tune-up for us. But more so, this is a regatta unto itself. It was a good start for us to win. For the next three days, it’s all about mistakes. The boat that makes the fewest will win, and we’d love to win. We’re definitely off to a good start.”

Liquid, Antigua’s Pamala Baldwin’s J/122, finished second in the Spinnaker Class, while the USA’s Sandra Askew’s C&C30, Flying Jenny, rounded out third.

The Spirit of Juno’s Chapman, in the Non-Spinnaker Class, shared similar sentiments as Blitz’s Corr.
“We’ve never done this course before and we loved it. It was as good of a warm up as you could ask for. It really put us in the racing mood. Now, it will be moving from a relatively easy race, easy but enough to get our racing blood pumping, too much steeper competition ahead for the next three days,” says Chapman.
St. Thomas’ Stephen Schmitt’s Hotel California Too, a Santa Cruz 70, finished second in the Non-Spinnaker class.
Fifty-one boats in six classes will embark on the first day of racing on Friday in the 46th STIR.
St. Thomas’ Lawrence Aqui will race his Dufour 40, Wild T’ing in the Non-Spinnaker class, a class in which they hope to defend their champion title from last year.
“It’s all about the fun and it looks like it will be perfect wind for us, 12 to 16 knots through the weekend,” says Aqui. “We’ve raced with the same core group of guys for 13 years now. For us, its all about the fun, but defending our class title is definitely top of mind.”
The 18-boat one-design IC24 Class is the largest and likely the most competitive. One of the entrants is Puerto Rico’s Luigi Miranda, who will be crewing on El Castigo.
“Our skipper, Gilberto Rivera, is an experienced IC24 and J24 class competitor with previous STIR participations,” says Miranda. “Our trimmer, Kiko Dalmau, is a very experienced sailor that has participated in many international sailing championships in other classes such as Melges 32. Our tactician, Lucas Miranda, is a young experienced sailor that has represented Puerto Rico in several international youth championships in other classes. Frank Velez, with years of IC24 experience, will be our foredeck. And I will be trimming the spinnaker pole. We look forward to improving over last year and having lots of fun.”
There are two multihull classes in this year’s STIR. One is a one-design Hobie Wave Class that will race on Saturday and Sunday. The other is a three-boat Performance Beach Cat Class.
“The Beach Cat class almost disappeared after the hurricanes,” says St. Thomas’ Joyce Campbell, who will sail with Naomi Laing on the Hobie 16, White Sails. “We decided to keep it going and there will be three of us racing this year.”
Round-the-buoy and round-the-island courses will take the STIR fleet north, south and east of St. Thomas’ east end, making it possible to see the racing from shore. Racing starts at 11 a.m. each day.

RACING BEGINS THURSDAY – 2019 ST. THOMAS INTERNATIONAL REGATTA KICKS OFF WITH WARM-UP ROUND THE ROCKS RACE

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Nearly a dozen boats will take to the start off St. Thomas’ east end at 10 a.m. for the 4th Round the Rocks Race on Thursday, March 21. The scenic and competitive course features a circumnavigation of the 19-square-mile neighboring island of St. John, home of the Virgin Islands National Park. Then, over 50 boats are registered to race in the 46th St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), March 22 to 24, from the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC). Teams competing in this largest international regatta in the territory and a ‘must do’ event on the Caribbean racing calendar, represent all three U.S. Virgin Islands, Caribbean islands such as Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten and Antigua; U.S. mainland states from New York to Florida; and countries such as Canada, the UK, Belgium and Australia. What’s more, this long recognized ‘Crown Jewel of Caribbean Yacht Racing’ features an impressive range of talent from professional sailors and avid weekend warriors to those just learning to sail both adults and youth.
“We welcome all of our sailors, their families and friends to the 2019 St. Thomas International Regatta,” says Margo S. Lynch, co-regatta director and STYC commodore. “We very much want to thank all of our sponsors, including the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, for making this near half-century strong event possible and helping to put the U.S. Virgin Islands on the global sailing map for both the warmth of the constantly blowing trade winds and island resident’s hospitality.”

Sneak Preview of Who’s Who Racing

The CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association) Spinnaker class features some of the largest boats in the regatta as well as some of the fastest. Key among them is Blackfish, New York, USA’s Ron Zarrella’s custom-designed, 49-foot, cold-molded racer/cruiser, built by Brooklin Boat Yard, in Brooklin, Maine, and launched in 2017. Brooklin Boat Yard teamed up with designer Jim Taylor of Marblehead, MA, on this very successful design.

“After a successful 2018 racing season in New England where Blackfish competed in the Panerai New England Yacht Series, we were hooked and wanted to continue the competition,” says helmsman Zarrella, whose crew includes wife Carolyn as well as a combination of seasoned Caribbean sailors, including designer Jim Taylor and his son Nat, some amateur friends from Nantucket, and Doyle sailmaker, Glen Cook. “We knew we wanted to bring Blackfish down to the Caribbean for the season but didn’t think we could commit to more than three regattas in the series. So, we chose STIR, the BVI Spring and Antigua Classics. We are looking forward to the friendly competition beyond New England.”

Another hot entry with a fast boat and an all-star crew is Flying Jenny, a C&C 30 owned and sailed by Utah, USA’s Sandra Askew. Askew will be sailing with husband Dave, daughter Olivia, and professional sailors such as Charlie Enright, Will van Cleef, Brady Stagg, Peter Crawford, Norm Berge and Grant Spanhake.

“This is my second time sailing this regatta,” says Askew, who has owned Flying Jenny for three years and last year won the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta and New York Yacht Club Race Week in Newport. In October, the team was crowned East Coast Champion in the C&C 30 One-Design class at the Annapolis Fall Regatta, hosted by the Storm Trysail Club-Chesapeake Station. “We had such a blast in 2017 that we had to come back. We love the sun, the people, racing around the different islands and having drinks after the races at the yacht club.”

Sailing north from Antigua to join the action is Bernie Evan-Wong and his crew aboard the Reichel-Pugh 37, TAZ. Evan-Wong’s crew already have solid finishes in the RORC Caribbean 600 in February and St. Maarten Heineken Regatta earlier this month under their racing belts.

“TAZ, ‘the Carbon beast’ is unique in the Caribbean as a full-carbon, race boat owned by a Caribbean person,” says Evan-Wong. “We have been competing each year around the entire Caribbean circuit for 15 years.”

Blackfish, Flying Jenny and TAZ will sail in the Round the Rocks Race as well as the traditional three-day STIR.

One of STIR’s first-time entries in the CSA Non-Spinnaker Class is Sonoma. Sonoma, captained by Craig Harms, is a classic 1986-built Bristol 41.1 center cockpit model, that operates as a luxury day and term charter yacht throughout the Virgin Islands. Through Harms involvement with the Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association, he became aware of the Marine Rebuild Fund and its initiative to help local Virgin Islanders learn to sail and become involved in the charter industry. Harms decided to assist this effort by training a crew of Virgin Islanders to compete in regional sailing events. The team’s first event was the St. Croix International Regatta two weeks ago.

“After three days of racing in St. Croix, we look forward to extending the learning that began during that event,” says Harms, whose crew includes Khalil James, Darryl Donohue and Terrence Nelson. “By the third day of sailing we had the team and boat performing well, so we are excited to build on that progress, and hope to be in the hunt. But beyond the racing and sailing experience, we look forward to extending a connection between our St Croix team and the St Thomas program. This will be a week of new experiences for our crew, and they are approaching that with excitement and enthusiasm.”

The biggest and likely the most competitive class will be the IC-24s. Eighteen of these one-design vessels, a modification of a J/24, will be on the start line. Some of these boats are privately owned and some have been chartered from the St. Thomas Sailing Center, located at STUC. An example of the latter is David McBrier, from Erie, PA, USA, and his team.

“Four of our team members participated in the STIR regatta in 2017 on board Peggy and Kevin Gregory’s yacht ‘Odyssey’ a Beneteau 46.7 from Buffalo, NY,” says McBrier. “However, that boat was badly damaged in the 2018 hurricane and the new boat is now set up 100 percent for cruising in the islands. So, for 2019, we decided to come race in the IC/24 class and have some fun racing around the buoys and the local islands. With our experience of J/22, J/70, J/24 and big boats, the IC-24 is going to add a nice fun twist for everyone involved.”

Finally, multihulls will be represented in two classes: beach cats and Hobie Waves.

“This year is looking to be breezier than last year, so that will be a challenge,” says St. Thomas Kyree Culver, who won the Hobie Wave class during its inaugural introduction to STIR last year. “The great thing about the Hobie Wave class for me is getting to skipper a boat in a world class Caribbean regatta.”


Budget Marine & Marlow Ropes Sponsor Volunteer Shirts for 2019 St. Thomas International Regatta

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Volunteers are the lifeblood of many Caribbean regattas. This is certainly true of the 2019 St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), set for March 22-24. To recognize these give-back participants, regatta organizers are pleased to announce that Budget Marine and Marlow Ropes have volunteered to sponsor the regatta volunteer shirts for STIR 2019.

“Nearly 100 volunteers help to make STIR happen on the water and off. We are grateful to all of them and to Budget Marine and Marlow Ropes for enabling us to say, ‘thank you’ to them in a tangible way,” says Margo Lynch, STIR co-director and commodore of STIR host, the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC).

Budget Marine’s St. Thomas store, which is located adjacent to Independent Boatyard 1.5 miles west of the STYC off Route 32, as well as the St. Maarten-headquartered chandlery’s 11 other Caribbean island locations, stocks a comprehensive range of Marlow products and accessories to assist and support sailors throughout the season. These range from Marlow’s world class Racing, Cruising and Dinghy ropes to their every-day mooring lines and accessories.

“Marlow Ropes are delighted to sponsor the St Thomas International Regatta 2019 in partnership with Budget Marine,” says Emma Donovan, marketing manager Marlow Ropes: “Now in its 46th year, the regatta is one of the greatest competitions for sailboats in the Caribbean and we are looking forward to seeing some great racing in superb conditions.”

The spirit of the sea runs strong at Budget Marine as the company has been part of events for years and in many cases initiated them. Company founder and a sailor himself, Robbie Ferron, set the tone from the beginning. He was one of the initiators of the Heineken Regatta in 1980. Last year, although a tough year after the hurricanes, Budget Marine supported close to 40 events big and small throughout the Caribbean. This year, Ferron initiated a new event: the First Caribbean Multihull Challenge.

“We chose to sponsor the volunteer shirts for STIR as the volunteers are the ones making it happen – from initiating and planning to doing the work. Getting people excited is always easy but getting things done is a little more difficult and we owe it to those that take the time and put in the effort to make these events work,” says Kathy Kurtz, general manager of Budget Marine St. Thomas. “We at Budget Marine pride ourselves in always continuing to develop and promote on the water activities as well as motivate the youth to be part of both the fun events and the serious maritime business. And, of course, there is a big chance that you will see us on the water whether participating in the event or enjoying the outstanding sailing and environmental conditions of the Caribbean!”


The K3 Company Renews Sponsorship of St. Thomas International Regatta, March 22-24, 2019 – Offers Discounts Until December 31!

Organizers of the 2019 St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), set for March 22-24, 2019, are pleased to announce that The K3 Company has renewed its sponsorship. The global manufacturer and distributor of premium outdoor gear and accessories will provide one of its newest products – the K3 DRIFTER 20 Liter Dry Bag Backpack – as STIR 2019’s official skipper’s bags.

“We are excited to continue our support of STIR 2019 as well as the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC) and its numerous events throughout the year,” says Lisa Keogh, managing director of the Dallas, TX, USA-headquartered company and a racing sailor herself. “The STIR regatta is a main attraction on the sailing calendar and continues to attract a very competitive international field. Year over year, the STIR event is highly anticipated by competitive sailors, spectators and sponsors alike. We at K3 are passionate about supporting our communities, especially in the Caribbean, where we supply leading edge products so our athletes, competitors and customers alike can push their limits outdoors.”

The K3 DRIFTER 20 Liter Dry Bag Backpack, available in lime, gray and orange, is a hybrid model that features a ventilated quick dry harness pioneered by K3. It’s ultralight and quick dry attributes make it perfect for sailing and water sports enthusiasts. The dry-bag backpack also features two exterior splash proof pockets for quick access to keys, cash, sun screen and more. Reflective trim on both the front and back of the bag means the bag is easily visible day and/or night.  Most importantly, the drifter is constructed with 500 Denier Tarpaulin and RF (radio-frequency) welded seams with no stitching, which lends to airtight and watertight seams. It actually floats.

The K3 Company’s support of STIR 2019 also includes the provision of a K3 PRO-TECH 10-liter dry bag in white and black. This product is built with ultra-rugged construction and water tight seams, offering supreme functionality and un-mistakable class for the stylish sailor.

Can’t wait until March? Or, have a sailor on your holiday gift list? From now through December 31, K3 is offering an exclusive 30% discount as part of its STIR sponsorship. For those in need of travel and/or active gear, please check out the K3 website at: www.thek3company.com. Utilize coupon code STIR2019 @ checkout.

Through an untiring commitment to innovation and original designs, K3 is recognized internationally for the functional and premium waterproof gear the brand produces without the lofty price tag. K3 continues to push the boundaries with leading edge design, so its customers can push the limits outdoors – on and off the water.

“We are thankful for The K3 Company’s continued sponsorship of STIR and other STYC events. Their high-quality, durable, waterproof bags are really sought-after by our sailors and are an integral and valuable part of the whole STIR regatta experience,” says commodore Margo Lynch, co-regatta director with STYC manager Greer Scholes.

STIR, celebrating its 46th year, is a globally-recognized regatta renowned for its fantastic racing, first-class race committee and friendly can-do attitude towards its competitors.

Register Now! STIR 2019 offers classes for CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association-handicap) Racing or Cruising; IRC; ORC; Multihull; Beach Cat or One Design classes with a minimum length of 20-feet. Pay only US $150 until January 31, 2019. Entry fees increase to US $300 between February 1 and March 20, 2019. Registration for IC24s: US $200, Beach Cats: $200. Register too for the Round the Rocks Race on March 21. To register and to find the NOR, visit: www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com

Traveling to St. Thomas is easy! American, United, JetBlue, Delta and Spirit all fly direct to St. Thomas from cities such as Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, New York, Atlanta, Orlando and Miami. Stay and play. Hotels, B&B’s, resorts, villas, condos and Airbnb’s are open.


Get Ready to STIR-it Up the Fun! 46th St. Thomas International Regatta Set for March 22-24, 2019

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Register now and get ready to STIR-up the fun! The St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), set for March 22-24, 2019, is the place to be for world-class racing and the chance to trade tacks and tactics with America’s Cup, Volvo Ocean and Olympic crews on the water and off. Add the one-stop venue at the St. Thomas Yacht Club and quintessential Caribbean vibe and it’s easy to see how STIR earned its motto, ‘We Love It Here’ You will too!

“We are looking forward to welcoming STIR veterans and newcomers alike and are working hard to make the 2019 St Thomas international Regatta the best yet as our island continues to recover from last year’s hurricanes,” says Margo Lynch, commodore of the St. Thomas Yacht Club and STIR co-director with Club manager, Greer Scholes.

 

 

Every One & One-Designs Are Invited 

Everyone is invited! STIR 2019 invites CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association-handicap rule), racing, cruising and bareboat classes; IRC; ORC; Multihull, Beach Cats and One-Design classes with a minimum length of 20 feet. Some of the hottest classes will be the one-design. To date, owners of J/121s and C&C 30’s have voiced an intention to race in STIR 2019. 

“Best sailing I’ve ever done,” says Sandra Askew, of Salt Lake City, UT, who raced her C&C 30, Flying Jenny, in STIR 2017 and plans to return in 2019 with other class members. Plus, there’s “sun, palm trees, beautiful water, great hospitality and an easy flight into St. Thomas from the mainland.” 

Over 20 vessels are expected on the start line in the IC24 class with as many as 12 races planned over the three-day event. 

What I like best about sailing in STIR is that it’s the only IC24 regatta in the region that has that many boats on the starting line at once,” says Mike Finley, of St. Thomas, who will race his IC24, Huron Girl, in STIR 2019 with crew from Michigan and Boston.

 

BYOB or Charter 

Bring your own boat or charter! Chartering especially makes it easy to fly in, jump on a race-ready yacht and set sail! Over half dozen outfits are offering vessels to charter either by the boat or crew spot for STIR 2019. One of these is the St. Thomas Sailing Center, with its fleet of IC24s.

 “The IC24 is what the J-24 should have been: high performance and dinghy like handling, but incredibly comfortable for crew and skipper to sail,” says Dave Franzel, STSC director. “The fleet at STIR is competitive on the water and friendly ashore. It is also one of the largest one design keelboat fleets in the Caribbean.”  

IC24s are available for $2200 with good sails, $2700 with new sails, for the 3-day STIR, practice day and 30-day Bluewater Membership at the St. Thomas Yacht Club. To reserve an IC24 boat for the 2019 event, Email: dave@stthomassailingcenter.com or call (340) 690-3681.

For something bigger, Antigua & Barbuda-based OnDeck (www.ondecksailing.com) is chartering its Beneteau 40.7, Ortac, and Farr 65, Spirit of Juno, for STIR 2019. 

Highly-competitive IC24 fleet makes for exciting racing. Credit: Dean Barnes“Regattas in the Caribbean are surprisingly accessible. You don’t need to be a zillionaire or an expert sailor …. but you do get to race against them,” says Peter Anthony, OnDeck director. “Spirit of Juno is our ‘head boat’ meaning that individuals or small groups can join the team for an event. We normally have around 4 pro crew on board so can take a mix of experienced racers as well as a few novices. Many people form strong friendships and end up racing many times together. It’s a great team and bonding sport not to mention the legendary Caribbean after parties.” 

There’re the makings for a 3-boat minimum one-design class of J/122s. The class-winning J/122, El Ocaso, is available from www.caribbeanyachtracing.com There’s also the very-fast, well-equipped J/122 Noisy Oyster for charter (www.J122experience.com). 

Beyond this, the J/120, J-aguar, is available by the yacht or crew spot from www.caribbeanraces.com. Bring your friends and charter the Farr 70 Volvo Ocean Racer, Ocean Breeze (www.oceanbreeze.eu), fresh from a full refit and with new Elvstrom sails. Or, take your pick of the Marc Lombard 46, Pata Negra; GP42, Phan; Swan 46, Milanto; Corby 45, Incisor; a J/122 or First 40 from LV Yachting, formerly Performance Yacht Charter (www.performanceyachtcharter.com).

 

Book Flights and Accommodations Now! 

The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism’s latest update in August offers excellent planning tips. 

Flights:

 

  • Spirit: Orlando to St. Thomas’ Cyril E. King Airport three flights weekly beginning November 8, 2018.
  • American Airlines: Miami to St. Thomas twice daily. Charlotte to St. Thomas daily from November 4, 2018. Philadelphia to St. Thomas daily starting on December 19. New York to St. Thomas daily starting December 22.
  • United Airlines: Daily nonstop service between Washington Dulles International Airport and St. Thomas this winter.
  • JetBlue Airways: Daily Boston-St. Thomas route between February 14, 2019 and April 22, 2019
  • Delta Air Lines: Continues serving St. Thomas with flights from New York and Atlanta.

 

Accommodations:

There are now approximately 1,050 rooms available on St. Thomas, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, resorts, timeshares, etc. Plus, there are approximately 600 villa units and 200 charter yachts available on St. Thomas/St. John. Currently, there are 830 Airbnb listings in St. Thomas.

50% Discount on Registration 

Register now at www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com! Pay in full for only US $150 between now and 1700 AST January 31, 2019. Entry fees increase to US $300 between February 1 and March 19, 2019. Registration for IC24s: US $200, Beach Cats: $200


Time for Winners! 45th St. Thomas International Regatta

 

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Great racing is what the St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) is renowned for. This year, the 45th annual, held only seven months after two Category 5 hurricanes, certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, there were tied scores among top competitors in three of five classes going into the third and final day of racing.

“The weather was fantastic. The race committee did a fantastic job. We sailed well and made no mistakes. I think that was our key to winning,” says Koem De Smedt, tactician aboard Belgian’s Philippe Moortgat’s Swan 45, Samantage, which soundly led the CSA Spinnaker 1 Class throughout the three-day regatta. “We had planned to come even before the hurricanes. It was always Philippe’s dream to bring his boat here and race the Caribbean season. We had some local knowledge aboard, and that helped since we usually do round-the-buoy rather than round-the-island racing in Europe. Our crew is good and we have sailed together for the past decade. However, it was hard for them to keep their eyes in the boat yesterday when we sailed off St. John. It was so beautiful. They wanted to sight-see.”

CSA Spinnaker 1 Class
The tied scores in CSA Spinnaker 1 going into the last day’s racing were for second and third in class. In the end, St. Thomas’ Peter Corr and his team aboard the King 40 Blitz moved up to a solid second by winning the day’s one race. Puerto Rico’s Luis Juarbe aboard his Melges 32, Soca, rounded out third.

CSA Spinnaker 2 Class
In CSA Spinnaker 2, Canada’s Rob Butler’s new Reflex 38, Touch2Play Racing and St. Croix’s Peter Stanton’s Melges 24, Boogaloo, were tied in points. Ultimately Touch2Play emerged victorious by 1-point.

“This is our third regatta on the new boat and we had pretty well worked out the kinks by the time we arrived here, although the Round the Rocks Race was a nice tune up for us,” says Butler, whose signature pink hull, spinnaker and team shirts is a nod to the team’s fundraising efforts for breast cancer research. “The competition was excellent. Basically, the winner came down to who won the race today.”

Bravissimo, St. John’s Mike Feierabend’s J/24, placed third in class.

CSA Non-Spinnaker Class
The CSA Non-Spinnaker Class saw St. Thomas’ Lawrence Aqui’s well-sailed Dufour 40, Wild T’ing turn in a solid performance by scoring four firsts in five races. This was remarkable considering the boat was toppled while on the hard in the British Virgin Islands during the hurricanes and was only ready to sail three weeks ago following repair and a trip to St. Maarten for rigging.

“We didn’t make mistakes, while the other boats took flyers when they saw us ahead and it ended up costing them,” explains St. Thomas’ Mike Williams, who called tactics aboard Wild T’ing. “What we enjoyed most was the last race, when the race committee combined CSA 2 and Non-spinnaker. It gave us a chance to actually see other race boats, not just compete against them based on time.”

Hermes, Canada’s Irek Zubko’s Pogo 12.5, finished second, while St. Thomas’ Stephen Schmidt and crew ended third in Non-Spinnaker aboard Schmidt’s Santa Cruz 70, Hotel California Too.

One-design Hobie Wave Class
The one-design Hobie Wave class was a STIR first, although beach cats in general have always been represented at this event. St. Thomas’ Bill Bacon and Pierre-James Zani were tied for first going into the final day. In the end, it was St. Thomas’ Kyree Culver who won literally single-handedly and in her first major regatta.

“I was always taught to pay attention to the sails and boat speed and that’s what I did. Plus, John Holmberg gave a clinic the day before the regatta and that really helped,” says Culver, who works at the St. Thomas Sailing Center, which chartered six Hobie Waves for STIR. Another six were brought over from Cruz Bay Watersports, in St. John.

Zani placed second while St. Thomas’ Naomi Laing finished third in the Hobie Wave class.

IC24 Class
Finally, the IC24 class definitely proved its top notch competitive nature, with the lead changing several times before the final curtain. In the end, it was St. Thomas Chris Rosenberg, who with St. Thomas boat builder Morgan Avery innovated the IC24 design, that won by a comfortable lead.

“We started practicing in January and trained together 8 to 10 times before the regatta. I think that’s what led to our victory,” says Rosenberg. “It’s amazing, when you considered that the IC24s at the Club were all smashed. Our boat was essentially totaled, but the St. Thomas Sailing Center put them all back together again beautifully, including bringing in a skilled fiberglasser, Chris Small, from New England.”

Rosenberg, who has sailed in this regatta and championed class wins several times, sums up the spirit of this event best when he says, “This year’s STIR proved every bit as exciting as years past. We had the addition of the Hobie Waves, more IC24s than in the past and substantial CSA classes. It was incredible.”

Puerto Rico’s Marco Teixidor aboard Cachondo and Fraito Lugo on Orion, finished second and third in the IC24 class, respectively.

In total, nearly 50 boats ranging from 13- to 70-feet in length raced. Crews represented everything from professional sailors to weekend warriors and boats hailed from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Antigua, the U.S.A, Canada and Europe.


Light Winds Keep Sailors on their Tactical Toes on Day 2

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Boost or bust aptly describes the day for many of the yacht racing teams on the second day of racing in the 45th St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR). Less than 10 knots of breeze proved challenging for some and for others it was a chance to put their light wind skills on display and move up the scoreboard. This theme echoed throughout the nearly 50 boat fleet, whether they were 13- or 70-feet in length, crewed by professionals or weekend warriors or homeported in the Caribbean, U.S. or Europe.

“For us, the light air was an advantage,” says Antigua’s Bernie Evan-Wong, driving his Reichel-Pugh, Team TAZ. “We do well in either light wind or heavy air, because in either of these conditions we can get up on a plane. So, it as a good day for us.”

Team TAZ moved from fourth to second place in CSA Spinnaker Racing I, behind leader Samantaga, Belgian’s Philippe Moortgat’s Swan 45. Blitz, St. Thomas’ Peter Corr’s King 40, rounds out the top three in class yet is tied in points with Team TAZ.

Touch2Play Racing, Canada’s Rob Butler’s new Reflex 38, continued its reign in the CSA Spinnaker 2 class after today’s two races. However, tied in points is St. Croix’s Peter Stanton driving the Melges 24, Boogaloo. Stanton, and his brothers Chris and Scott, won the overall top yacht award at this event as teenagers back in 2002.

“This is the second keel boat event I have ever skippered,” says Stanton. “All those past regattas I’ve won with my brothers, I have always been on the rail or in every other position except as skipper. This is a new role for me. It’s fun. So far, we’re having a good showing.”

In CSA Non-Spinnaker, St. Thomas’ Lawrence Aqui aboard his Dufour 40, Wild Thing, continues at the top of the class. In second is Canada’s Irek Zubko driving the Pogo 12.5, Hermes.

“We had a perfect start, a perfect race, and then right at the end a cloud came in, the breeze dropped to almost nothing and we sat for what seemed liked 20 minutes before we crossed the finish line,” says Zubko, who last year finished sixth in the 2017 J/24 World Championships, Zubko hopes to return to STIR next year when he’d like to charter an IC24, a design created in the U.S. Virgin Islands, yet utilizes a J/24 hull.

Competition proved razor close in the one-design IC24 class. In fact, after 10 races only two points separates Puerto Rico’s Marco Teixidor from St. Thomas’ Chris Rosenberg on Team Play. Rosenberg and St. Thomas’ Morgan Avery created the IC24 design that debuted in STIR in 2001.

“This is the most competitive class in the regatta, that’s why I sail in it,” says St. Maarten’s Frits Bus, who races with St. Thomas’ Chuck Pessler on Island Water World Racing, which moved from 8th to 6th in class today. “Everybody can sail in heavy air, its takes skill to sail in light air. We are good in light air.”

Light winds were also something St. Thomas’ John Holmberg enjoyed as he competed against 12 other boats in the regatta’s first one-design Hobie Wave Class. “I love light air. It takes work and not everyone is willing to take a deep breath and do what it takes. For example, these boats have two rudders. Rudders create drag in the water, so you want to move them very slightly. Moving the rudders too much slows you down, especially in light air.”

Holmberg, who ended third in class today St. Thomas’ Bill Bacon and Pierre-James Zani in first and second, respectively, was instrumental in introducing the Hobie Wave class to this year’s STIR.

“It’s the perfect beginner boat to serve as a pipeline to get young sailors into the sport. After all, the St. Thomas Yacht Club was founded on small one-design boat racing and look what many of our members have gone onto – the Olympics, the America’s Cup.”