Leads Lengthened, Leads Lost on Day 2 – 50th St. Thomas International Regatta

Leads Lengthened, Leads Lost on Day 2 – 50th St. Thomas International Regatta

 St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico’s Francisco Velez, tactician on Giberto Rivera’s IC24, Urayo, perfectly summed up the challenge of the day, and the first two days, of the 50th St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR). “Local knowledge usually is a big advantage. But now, with winds out of the West rather than East, something that is very unusual, everybody is lost. We are all finding our way. It levels the playing field,” says Velez, of Team Urayo, which sits in 4th in the 15-boat, highly-competitive, one-design IC24 class.

Racing Recap

Urayo was one of nearly 40 boats with crews hailing from the Caribbean, U.S., and Ireland, which competed in one of six classes today.

The USVI’s two-time Olympian, Cy Thompson, continues to lead in the IC24 class on Bill T. After 9 races over two days, Thompson lengthened his lead to 22 points over second place PJ’s Magic Coffee Bus, a chartered IC24 driven by New Orlean’s Guy Williams.

Kate – Credit Dean Barnes

There are two women’s teams sailing in the IC24 Class, a STIR first in this class, and something that matches a move towards greater equality for women in Olympic sailing and the debut of the first Women’s America’s Cup for AC37, which starts in August in Barcelona. The USA’s Lyzz Schwegler’s team on the chartered IC24, Black Pearl, is currently in 9th, while Kate, owned by the USVI’s Sarah Swan, is two points behind in 10th.

“It was super tough and shifty today,” says St. Thomas’ Emily Pearsall, who’s at the helm on Kate. “It was hard to be consistent. One race the left was favored, and the next race the right was favored. Plus, it’s an extremely competitive class.”

Of the team’s STIR entry, Pearsall adds, “Sarah (Swan) likes to promote women’s sailing and put together a team of all women from St. Thomas and St. John. Everybody had an opportunity to switch out and work in every position. On co-ed teams, women are usually in one position.”

Sailing aboard Kate as crew is Nini Champion. Two months ago, Champion and Lisa Rowland rowed as the only female pairs team in the 2023 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge, a 3,000 nm unassisted ocean row from La Gomera, Spain to English Harbour, Antigua. The duo set a new world record of 45 days, all while flying the USVI flag.

Melges 24s neck and neck on STIR Day 2 – Credit Ingrid Abery

In CSA Spinnaker Racing 1, the USA’s Sandra Askew’s Cape 31, Flying Jenny, moved into first over Marc Morris’ same-make ShotGunn. However, both teams are tied at 10 points apiece after three races today.

Similarly, in CSA Spinnaker Racing 2, the USA’s Donald Nicholson’s J121 Apollo, continued with flawless first-place finishes to pull ahead of second place, the USA’s David Hensley on his J42, Trinity IV, by 7 points.

In CSA Spinnaker Racing 3, the team on Puerto Rico’s Keki Figuero’s Melges 24, Exodus, pulled ahead of fellow Melges 24, Team Island Water World, driven by St. Maarten’s Berit Bus, by 6 points.

“We were consistently ahead today,” says 22-year-old Kyle Fink from Puerto Rico, whose fellow crew aboard Exodus is father, Greg Fink. “They (Team Island Water World, a father-daughter team of St. Maarten’s Frits and Berit Bus, respectively) point higher, but we are faster. We also have more weight with six crew to their five. Plus, we practiced every other Saturday in Ponce for six months before STIR.”

In CSA Non-Spinnaker, the USVI’s Lawrence Aqui on his Dufour 40, Wild T’ing, also kept his lead and extended it to 5 points, over the USVI’s Stephen Schmidt on his Santa Cruz 70, Hotel California Too.

The One-Design Hobie Wave Class took to the seas today for the first of two days of racing. In addition to IC24s, the St. Thomas Sailing Center, the racing arm of the St. Thomas Yacht Club, also charters Hobie Waves for STIR.

“It’s way more fun. Plus, it was here, rigged and right on the beach,” says the USVI’s Chris Curreri, who has won the IC24 Class in STIR several times and now is at the top of the Hobie Wave scoreboard.”

Returning to race in this class again is the USA’s Mike Compton, who campaigned to represent the USVI in the 2028 Summer Olympics in the Windsurfing Class. Compton sits in third.

Hobie Waves – Credit Ingrid Abery

The Hobie Wave class is user-friendly to everyone from senior sailors like the USA’s Tony Sanpere who raced Hobie 14s here in the early 1970s, to pre-teen Optimist dinghy sailors.

“It’s a mix of learning new stuff every day and being competitive,” says 12-year-old Will Zimmerman, from St. Thomas, who racing double-handed with fellow islander, 11-year-old Finn Hodgins.

STIR 2024 marked the first time 13-year-old USVI sailor, Tori Aubain, raced in a regatta. Aubain combined her Hobie Wave experience with fellow teen Mila Melbourne’s Opti and 420 knowledge, to finish six races today in 8th.

“It’s a new experience and I like new experiences,” says Aubain.

Schedule of Events

The third and final day of STIR racing kicks off for an 11 a.m. start on Sunday, March 31. Race courses will be set off the southeast, northeast, and east end of St. Thomas and in Pillsbury Sound between St. Thomas and St. John, depending on weather. The Awards Ceremony starts on Sunday at 5 p.m. at the St. Thomas Yacht Club.

Real-time results for STIR are posted at yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=16227

Strong Sponsor Support

STIR organizers thank the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism; The Moorings; Milagro Tequila, Bacardi Rum, Stoli Vodka, and Leatherback Brewing, distributed by the West Indies Company; Cardow Jewelers, K3, and Ocean Surfari for their strong sponsor support.

STIR 2024 is a Sailors for the Sea Clean Regatta, with green initiatives such as paperless event management and a water refill station.

For more information, visit www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com, Email: manager@stthomasyachtclub.org or Regatta Co-Director Pat Bailey at simpleislandboy51@gmail.com, or call (340) 775-6320. Check STIR out on Facebook (www.facebook.com/stirvi), Twitter @stirvi, and Instagram #STIRVI

Media contact:
Carol Bareuther
Tel: (340) 998-3650
Email: bareuther@earthlink.net
Skype: Carol.Bareuther