Offshore Multihull & One-Design Classes Star in St. Thomas International Regatta

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. A large offshore multihull fleet and entries for at least two one-design classes are already registered for the St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), set for March 24 to 28, 2017 and hosted by the St. Thomas Yacht Club. What’s more, there is an opportunity to participate in CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association); IRC; Multihull; CSA Bareboat; Beach Cat; and One Design classes with a minimum length of 20 feet, making STIR the most user-friendly sailing competition in the Caribbean. That’s not all! The great STIR tune-up, the Round the Rocks Race, will take place again on March 23 and features a circumnavigation of neighboring St. John, home of the Virgin Islands National Park. This exceptional program of world-class yacht racing continues to earn STIR the status of ‘Crown Jewel of Caribbean Yacht Racing’.

“Our inter-island race venue here in the U.S. Virgin Islands is the perfect platform to launch a large number of diverse classes,” says regatta director, Chuck Pessler. “This is the invitation we’d like to offer to sailors around the world for 2017, whether you prefer one hull or two, racing or cruising or just watching and enjoying our lively shoreside beach party scene.”

New for 2017 – Multihulls & Melges

Last year’s regatta welcomed its first Gunboat Class. Building on STIR’s reputation as ‘where the big cats roam’, the 2017 event welcomes a larger and more diverse fleet of offshore multihulls. Returning will be Fault Tolerant, a Gunboat 60 owned by Robert and Libby Alexander of Rye, New York, USA. New Canaan, Connecticut, USA’s Jim Vos, has entered his new HH 66, Bambi, while Greg Slyngstad, from Sammamish, Washington, USA, is set to sail his Bieker 53, Fujin.

“Fujin is a relatively new boat. She was built in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, by Gold Coast Yachts and completed in August of last year. We’ve raced St. Maarten (3rd place), Les Voiles (3rd place), Newport Race Week (2nd place) and the Vineyard Race (1st to finish, 2nd corrected). We are moving the boat back to the Caribbean this fall/winter and were drawn to the St. Thomas race due to the other multihulls that are entered. It will be my first time racing in this regatta,” says Slyngstad, who has sailed competitively for 20-plus years and previously owned Hamachi, a J/125 in which he raced to Hawaii twice, finishing first in class in both the 2014 Pac Cup and 2015 Transpac, as well as won his class in the 2015 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

Fujin’s crew for STIR 2017 hails mostly from Seattle, Washington, USA, and will include Jonathan McKee, who won gold and bronze medals in the Flying Dutchman and 49er classes, respectively, in the 1984 and 2000 Summer Olympics. Fritz Lanzinger, named Sailor of the Year at Seattle’s Corinthian Yacht Club in 2014 and accomplished Canadian sailor, Andrew McCorquodale, will also crew aboard Fujin.

On the heels of hosting nine Melges 32s in a one-design class in 2013, STIR will welcome nearly a dozen Melges 20’s in 2017. One of these owners is Jim Wilson, of Rye, New York, USA, who will be sailing his Melges 20, Oleander.

“A good friend encouraged me to race this regatta for a couple of years and others have spoken well of the event too,” says Wilson, who favors one-design sailing and has competed in the Melges 20, primarily the winter series in South Florida, for the past four years. “For the last year or so I have been sailing with Jeremy Wilmot from Australia as tactician and others forward, most recently, Luke Lawrence or my two daughters. Probably our best result is 5th place in the 2015 Melges 20 Worlds in San Francisco, but Oleander has also placed top 5 in the winter series a couple of times.”

The U.S. Virgin Islands’ home-grown, highly-competitive one-design IC24 class is shaping up well with three entries to date: Puerto Rico’s Ramon Gonzalez’ Sembrador and Jaime Torres Smile and Wave and St. Maarten’s Fritz Bus aboard Island Water World.

Logistics Made Easy

All routes lead to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

By air, American Airlines (New York, Boston, Miami, San Juan), Delta Air Lines (Atlanta), jetBlue (Boston connecting through San Juan) Spirit (Fort Lauderdale), United (Chicago, Washington DC/Dulles, Newark) and US Airways (Charlotte, Philadelphia) offer direct flights from major U.S. cities. There are also direct flights from Europe once weekly, on Fridays, between Copenhagen and St. Croix, on Norwegian Air. Local airlines, Cape Air and Seaborne, offer several daily flights between St. Croix and St. Thomas. Danes may especially be interested in visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017 as the territory commemorates its centennial or 100-year anniversary of the U.S.’s purchase of the islands from Denmark on March 31, 1917.

By sea, no cruising permit is needed to sail in U.S. Virgin Islands’ waters. Visas may be required depending on citizenship. Plus, the port in St. Thomas is served by regularly scheduled visits by yacht transport carriers such as DYT Yacht Transport. St. Thomas has a full-service logistics operation for Grand Prix race boats in Caribbean Racing Logistics, run by yacht club member Ben Beer, who has the ability to handle even the hall out and storage of large deep draft race boats (benbeer13@aol.com or 340-998-6203).

On shore, Island Way Services (islandwayservices@gmail.com or 340-244-8457), can assist with everything from accommodations to rental vehicles and more. In addition, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism website offers a wealth of information: www.visitusvi.com

Register Now!

Register online now for the Round the Rocks Race and STIR Both events promise challenging courses, professional race management and island-style hospitality.

Take advantage of a discount for Early Registration for STIR! Entries received and paid for in full by 5 p.m. AST January 31, 2017 pay only US $250. The registration fee between February 1 and March 21, 2017 increases to US $400 for all boats, except US $250 for beach cats and US $300 for IC24s and Non-Rated Cruising Class boats.

The NOR is available at www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com. For more information, contact Regatta Director Chuck Pessler at (340) 642-3204 or Email: cpessler@hotmail.com. Check STIR out on Facebook (www.facebook.com/stirvi), Twitter @stycvi and Instagram #STIRVI

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