New Hobie Wave Class at 45th St. Thomas International Regatta

There’s a brand new, first-ever opportunity to ride the waves at the 45th St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), set for March 23-25, 2018. Hobie Waves, that is, easy-to-sail, one- or two-person, beach-launched catamaran that are fast and fun to sail. While beach cats have long been a key class in STIR, this is the first time Hobie Waves will be available to charter to race as a one-design class on their own separate course in a special two-day, March 24 and 25, regatta within STIR. Not sure how to sail a Hobie Wave? Multihull national champion and St. Thomas native, John Holmberg, will host a FREE beachside clinic on March 23 from 3 to 4 p.m., where he will cover basic rules, tactics and trim.

 

“It’s great to have a new one design fleet join our regatta. Getting 12 or more boats of any type on the water at the same time in the Caribbean is a positive trend. We welcome the Hobie Waves to the STIR. Hopefully local sailors will take advantage of the wonderful inexpensive way to compete in an international event,” says regatta director, Bill Canfield.

 

The Hobie Wave class is an excellent opportunity for the Virgin Islands community to participate in and say they’ve sailed in STIR, known as the ‘Crown Jewel of Caribbean Yacht Racing’. What’s more, it’s an easy and affordable way for hurricane relief workers on-island in March to have access to a boat, get a taste of the territory’s spectacular marine environment, and plan to visit again on vacation in the future.


Margaritaville St. Thomas Restaurant and Resort On Board as Sponsor of 45th St. Thomas International Regatta

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. The Margaritaville St. Thomas Restaurant and Resort is on board as a sponsor of the 45th St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), regatta organizers are pleased to announce. Opened in August of 2015 and inspired by the lifestyle and lyrics of Jimmy Buffett, the property, including pools, the Landshark Bar & Grill, License to Chill and 5 O’clock Somewhere Bar, is and has been a strong supporter of the Virgin Islands community.

“In light of events from late 2017, Margaritaville St. Thomas continues to have a primary focus on the community and re-build of the island. We’ve accomplished this through various efforts such as supporting relief workers, participating in road and beach clean ups, and supplying ice to law enforcement on hot days. Most important to the island is providing an oasis to locals, linemen and tourists alike to wind down after a long recovery day. The resilience of the island is stronger than ever and as Jimmy quotes the island “…Feel the stinging, I’ve been given, never ending, unrelenting…” we are VI Strong,” says Rodney Renner, general manager-resort operations for Wyndham St. Thomas, a Margaritaville Vacation Club Resort.

While the resort is currently closed for post-storm renovations, there’s plenty for Parrot Heads and STIR sailors alike to enjoy at the Margaritaville St. Thomas Restaurant, which is open. The menu is filled with local fare such as Fried Grouper and Coconut Crusted Snapper, as well as signature dishes such as ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’. Plus the Margaritas are always flowing. Local Live entertainment is held at the Six String Stage accented by the sight and sound of waves crashing in the background.

“We are pleased to have Margaritaville St. Thomas support STIR this year. They have proven to be a real asset to the community during these tough times,” says regatta director, Bill Canfield.

St. Thomas International Regatta
STIR, celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, is a globally-recognized regatta renowned for its fantastic racing, first-class race committee and friendly can-do attitude towards its competitors. This year’s theme focuses on getting back to the ‘good old days’ and simple pleasures of Caribbean racing in the aftermath of major hurricanes last fall.


Omega Sponsors Impressive Watch for IC24 Class Winner

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Organizers of the St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) are proud to announce that Omega, the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer, will sponsor the illustrious prize of an Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra timepiece to the winner of this year’s IC24 class.

Photo: The Seamaster Aqua Terra by Omega.

“Omega is proud to support one of the most prestigious regattas in the Caribbean with a long history of exciting and memorable moments. The IC24 class has become the largest one-design keelboat fleet in the Caribbean with high caliber sailors continuing to join the class. We see the IC24 class having the potential to be at the forefront of competitive sailing in the Caribbean, attracting interest not just from local talented sailors, but top sailors from around the world,” says Alia Fontes, manager of the Omega Boutique in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Seamaster Aqua Terra pays tribute to Omega’s rich maritime heritage, thus is an elegant and excellent watch for the sailing enthusiast. This model features a symmetrical case designed out of stainless steel, with a wave-edged design featured on the back. The blue dial is distinguished by a horizontal ‘teak’ pattern, which is inspired by the wooden decks of luxury sailboats. There is also a date window at 6 o’clock and rhodium-plated hands and indexes filled with white Super-LumiNova. Blue is used for the central seconds hand and the four quarter numbers on the minute track. This chronometer is certified at the industry’s highest standard by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS).

“We are thrilled to have Omega join us as a sponsor and offer a fantastic timepiece to the winner of the competitive IC24 class. This will push the competitors to a new level to take home this fantastic prize,” says regatta director, Bill Canfield.

STIR, celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, is a globally-recognized regatta renowned for its fantastic racing, first-class race committee and friendly can-do attitude towards its competitors. This year’s theme focuses on getting back to the ‘good old days’ and simple pleasures of Caribbean racing in the aftermath of major hurricanes last fall.


St. Thomas Yacht Club Named Wight Vodka’s Favorite Yachting Bar in the Caribbean, Club Gears up for it’s 45th St. Thomas International Regatta

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. If your bucket list includes having a drink at the 2017 Favorite Yachting Bar in the Caribbean, then tick that box with us March 23 to 25 at the St. Thomas International Regatta. Announced on January 3, 50° North, creators of Wight Vodka and Scuttlebutt Europe announced that the STIR-host St. Thomas Yacht Club won its annual contest in a special Caribbean category to recognize bars that were hard hit by the hurricanes last fall.

“It’s an honor to have received this recognition, especially as the Club is still recovering from the after effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria,” says regatta director, Bill Canfield. “As a result, this will not be our biggest STIR, but we can guarantee everyone a special time. For those who have never visited, Cowpet Bay is a beautiful place to finish a race and the Club and its bar are located beachfront here. Plus, for those that are long timers, think back to your first Caribbean regatta and what a great experience it was. We are offering this same vibe this year with an emphasis on ‘simple fun and great sailing’. That’s why we love it here!”

Photo: Over 20 IC24s are expected to race in STIR 2018, possibly the largest one-design class in a Caribbean regatta. Credit: Dean Barnes

IC24’s A Plenty
A sampling of who’s registered so far shows what might be the largest one-design class in a Caribbean regatta. Over 20 IC24s, with sailors from around the Caribbean and World, are expected to compete in up to a dozen races over three days with a mix of windward/leeward and island races.

“This event gathers the largest number of IC24s in the Caribbean, offers great race courses, good variety and organizers keep it fun both on and off the water,” says Puerto Rico’s Jaime Torres, who will helm his Smile and Wave with a strong team, consisting of Alejandro Carrera on bow and Gretchen Ortiz in the pit. “It’s a long-standing tradition for my family and I to race and enjoy the spectacular hospitality of the St. Thomas Yacht Club for the St. Thomas International Regatta. Now, we have a new tradition. That is, we ask talented kids or women to come in and drive the boat, thus giving the class a source of new talent.”

The IC24 fleet at the St. Thomas Sailing Center, located at the St. Thomas Yacht Club, were expertly repaired post-hurricane to their racing best by famed fiberglass specialist, Chris Small, of Chris Small Boatworks, in Ipswich, Massachusetts. IC24s are still available for charter from the St. Thomas Sailing Center. The STIR charter package fee of $2100 with decent sails and $2800 with new sails, includes a ready-to-race IC24 for the three-day STIR, a practice day the Thursday before and a 30-day Bluewater Membership in the St. Thomas Yacht Club.

New Boats Debut in Racing Class
Teams from Canada, the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico are all looking forward to racing new boats at the 2018 STIR. One of these is Rob Butler’s Touch2Play racing team.

“The J88, which we raced last year in STIR, has been replaced with a Reflex 38,” says Larry Huibers, manager of Collingwood, Ontario-based Butler’s team. “It’s a slightly larger platform, which will host our crew in a little more comfort and make transiting to the other events easier. The blend of great tight racing and fun shore side activities makes coming back a priority for us.”

New to owner Emanuele Bianchi, of Chicago, Illinois, is the 2015-built Tartan 101, Red Hot Caribe, which Bianchi describes as a 33-foot high performance fractional sloop with a very generous carbon rig powered by top notch North Sails.

“We are a mix of fun, avid sailors, mostly based in the Great Lakes, peppered with East and West Coast, Canadian and European flavor,” he says. “Our team is comprised of a group of highly competitive, qualified amateurs with broad experience that includes a mix of ocean, buoy, medium to long distance and one-design sailboat racing. STIR 2018 will be one of the highlights of a season spend enjoying fun island-hopping deliveries as we explore the beauty of the Caribbean.”

Back after a year’s hiatus is STIR 2016 racing class winners, Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Lipuscek and his team aboard a new Dark Star.

“The new Dark Star is a recently purchased McConaghy 38, which is larger and faster than the previous Dark Star, a J/105,” explains Rafael ‘Rafi’ Martinez, who like many of the team’s crew have raced in STIR since the early 1990s.” Our core crew will remain the same and we are pumped to see what this boat can do in the Caribbean trade winds.”
Photo: Rob Butler’s former J/88 Touch2Play races in STIR 2017. Butler will be back for 2018 on his new yet same-named, Reflex 38. Credit: Dean Barnes.


It’s Back to the Good Old Days of Caribbean Racing! 45th St. Thomas International Regatta Set for March 23-25, 2018

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. If you enjoyed Caribbean racing in the 1970s and 1980s – or heard the stories and wished you were there – this year’s St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), set for March 23-25, 2018, is the place to be!

After some tough soul searching, STIR organizers at the host St. Thomas Yacht Club realized it will be unfair to promise a full-scale regatta without our dock and deck covering. So, the next best thing was to roll back the clock to a simpler era.

“It’s all about simpler times, more fun, no worries and a chance to just come and enjoy the sailing,” says regatta director, Bill Canfield, who has been involved in STIR for all but one of its 45 years and can attest to the great laidback low-key island vibe in the early years. “We will of course offer wonderful sailing ‘around the rocks’, with our veteran PROs, great beach parties, cold rum and hot music.”

STIR 2018 invites CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association-handicap rule) racing, cruising and bareboat classes; Multihull, Beach Cats and One-Design classes with a minimum length of 20 feet. The hot, hot, hot class will be the one-design IC 24’s with over 20 vessels expected on the start line and as many as 12 races over three days.

BYOB or Charter 

Bring you own boat or charter! Chartering especially makes it easy to fly in, jump on a race-ready yacht and set sail!

 

*          St. Thomas Sailing Center

            Yachts: IC24s

            Charter: By the Yacht

            Contact: Dave Franzel, (340) 714-4173, stycsailingcenter@gmail.com,

www.stsc.styc.club

 

*          Caribbean Races

           Yachts: J/120 (J-aguar) and Kiwi 35 (Wild Devil)
           Charter: By Yacht or by Crew Spot
            Contact: Ben Jelic, (721) 527-5006, mrbenjelic@gmail.com,

www.caribbeanraces.com

 

*          OnDeck Racing

           Yachts: Beneteau 40.7 (Ortac) and Farr 65 (Spirit of Juno)
           Charter: By Yacht or by Crew Spot
           Contact: Peter Anthony, (268) 562-6696, antigua@ondecksailing.com,

www.ondecksailing.com

 

*          Caribbean Yacht Racing Ltd.

Yachts: J/122 (El Ocaso)
Charter: By Yacht
Contact: Bob Hillier, USA +1 (262) 216-5967; St. Maarten +1 (721) 586-4900, bob@caribbeanyachtracing.comwww.caribbeanyachtracing.com

 

*          J122 Experience

           Yachts: J122 (Noisy Oyster)
           Charter: By Yacht or with First Mate
           Contact: Olivier Parchet, +41 79 297 46 81, oparchet@pebble-home.com,
           www.J122experience.com

 

50% Discount on Registration 

In keeping with the simpler old-time theme, even the entry fees for STIR 2018 have been rolled back a few decades. Register and pay in full for only US $150 between now and 1700 AST January 31, 2018. Entry fees increase to US $300 between February 1 and March 20, 2018. Registration for IC24s: US $200, Beach Cats: $200

For assistance with accommodations, please Email: stycisv@gmail.com


Registration Open! St. Thomas International Regatta Set for March 23-25, 2018

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Organizers of the St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) are pleased to announce that 2018 event, set for March 23 to 25, will take place as scheduled despite damage to the island from Hurricane’s Irma and Maria. Never in the 45-year history of STIR has a fall storm, even a major one, interrupted the running of the ‘Crown Jewel of Caribbean Yacht Racing’, and it will not in 2018. The host St. Thomas Yacht Club suffered some damage and the fleet took more than a few dents, but the venue for fantastic round the island races is still very much here. The resilience of regatta organizers, sponsors, volunteers, and club members as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands’ business community, hotel and tourism sectors is strong. Show your support and be part of our island’s recovery and future.


It’s All About Time at the St. Thomas International Regatta

Several classes were too close to call going into the final day of racing at the 44th St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), held March 24 to 26 out of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The reason? A mix of STIR-signature round-the-island courses combined with conditions that ranged from near breathless calm to blustery gusts over three days of racing that kept competitors on their toes and trading places on the scoreboard with classmates right down to the last finish. Of course, warm weather, picture-perfect turquoise seas and the regatta’s STIR up the fun Caribbean vibe brought out the best in everyone.

“We went into today knowing there would be two races,” says St. Thomas’ Peter Corr, who helmed his King 40, Blitz, to victory in Spinnaker Racing 1 with a crack 10-person crew that included talent from as far away as Australia and New Zealand. “We wanted to win both races, so our goal was to be careful, to not make any errors or get protested. We did just that, and the win was thanks to a great combined effort and team work.”

The BVI’s Henry Leonnig, racing his Melges 24, Firewater, topped the Spinnaker Racing 2 class after tying on points with Canada’s Rob Butler’s J/88 Touch2Play racing team.

“I got up early this morning and said to myself we have everything to lose,” says Leonnig. “By the time we headed out to the race course, the thought was to just relax, go sailing and have fun. Then at the start of the last race I began trying to overthink it. I stopped myself and went back to doing what we’d done throughout the regatta: get windward and get off the line fast. It worked. It was so incredible to be out in front of the class on that last race. Just pheromonal.”

In the Non-Spinnaker Racing class, there were lots of happy faces on crew members aboard Varuna, a VAr 37, which bested St. Thomas’ Kevin Gregory’s Beneteau First 44.7, Odyssey.
“We both had seven points going into today,” says Martin van Breems, founder and owner of the Sound Sailing Center, in Norwalk, CT. “Odyssey is a local boat and its sailed well. In the last race, we were slated to finish second. Then, Odyssey ended up not sailing the course properly and retired. It was a thrill for us to win. I’ve been sailing here for sixteen years and this is the first time we’ve won our class.”

The one-design C&C 30 and IC24 classes reveled in the razor-sharp competition.

In the C&C30’s, the Cottonwood Heights, UT’s Sandra Askew’s Flying Jenny bested Julian Mann, from San Francisco, CA, aboard his Don’t Panic by four points.

“We’ve come together over as a team over the last few months, having had a practice session together in the fall and then doing Key West Race Week,” says Jason McShane, crewmember aboard C&C 30 Class winner, Flying Jenny. “The boat was really well set up for the conditions. We have a sail program that’s awesome, both quality and set up wise and that helped us a lot.”

Puerto Rico’s Fraito Lugo won the IC24 Class for nearly the dozenth time aboard his Orion. After twelve races over three days, there was only a five-point difference between Orion and second place finisher, Sembrador, sailed by Puerto Rico’s Ramon Gonzalez.

“We came into the last day as the defender,” says Lugo, whose crew included his 14-year-old son, Alejandro. “Sembrador really came on aggressively and were on the offense. They won two of the five races today. But in the last race we finished second, ahead of them, and were able to put points between us.”

It came down to a tie-breaker to decide the winner in the Large Offshore Multihull Class. In the end the HH/MM Nala, bested the St. Croix-built Bieker 53, Fujin, owned by Greg Slyngstad from Sammamish, WA.

“This is the first regatta we’ve done on the boat since we launched her late last year and were extremely pleased with how the boat performed,” says Gino Morrelli, president of Newport Beach, CA-based, Morelli & Melvin, who designed and crewed on Nala.

Meanwhile, in the Beach Cat class, St. Thomas Teri McKenna, placed first with nearly all first-place finishes aboard her Nacra 17, Flight Risk.

“We have lots of experience. Both Sandra Tartaglino and I have each sailed beach cats for over 30 years. Today’s races were distance races offshore with the spinnaker boats. That made us really need to think about tactics. For example, we didn’t want to get in the wind shade of a large yacht,” McKenna says.

Class winners received Swiss-made, limited-edition, Island-styled timepieces from Cardow Jewelers, as well as other great prizes such as high-quality duffle/backpacks from K3 Waterproof Gear.

STIR is a world-class event renowned for its fantastic round the buoys and round the islands racing, first-class race committee, superb shoreside festivities and friendly can-do attitude towards its competitors.

The 45th edition is set for March 23 to 25, 2018.


Rock & Roll Time on the Second Day of the St. Thomas International Regatta

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) proved its reputation as the ‘Crown Jewel of Caribbean Yacht Racing’ by superbly delivering on its signature mix of round the rocks and round the buoy courses on the event’s second day of competition. What’s more, 6 to 8 foot seas off the island’s east end, gusts blowing to 20 to 25 knots and a mix of rain and sun all added to the fun.

“The windward-leeward courses we had in the morning were hard work,” says Phil Blake, who crewed aboard the IC24 Boat Drinks and is the general manager of IGY’s Yacht Haven Grande. “This, mixed with the passage race in the afternoon, rounded out a wonderful day of sailing. That’s what I love about sailing in the Caribbean. I’ve raced in regattas and Asia and the Middle East and they have the same look and feel, but we are blessed here with consistent tradewinds.”

It was the three W’s – windy, wavy and warm – that appealed most to Curtis Florence, the 2009 Canadian Yachting Association’s Rolex Sailor of the Year, who handled bow on the C&C 30, Nemesis, one of a four boat first-time one-design class in STIR. Florence, as well as helmsman Trey Sheehan, from Cleveland, OH, are members of Team Hooligan, who race a dozen large regattas annually from Key West to San Francisco, and decided to jump off their usual mix of J/70 and Melges 32 racing to sail the C&C.

“The first time we were on a C&C 30 was Thursday for the Round the Rocks Race,” says Sheehan, who flew down to race at the invitation of the owner of the C&C 30 sister ship, Themis. “We got schooled today; the rest of the class beat us pretty well. One-design racing is like hand-to-hand combat. I love it. Especially here in the Caribbean.”

Some of the hottest competition today was in CSA Spinnaker 1. Blitz, the King 40, owned and raced by St. Thomas’ Peter Corr, continued its reign at the head of the class.

“It was another Black Jack day,” says Corr, referring to the 2-1 finish his Aussie crew achieved in the two races yesterday and again today. “Today, we lost one race by 19 seconds. When I saw that, I knew immediately where we lost that time. In the first race, I was trying to cut inside the bottom mark to take breeze away from the Melges 32 (Big Trouble). The idea was to pop his air, go around and get ahead. However, we weren’t able to do that and lost speed.”

Bob Hillier, who hails from Lake Geneva, WI, and his J/122 El Ocaso alumni were trying to nip at Blitz’s lead today.

“We have a real interesting class,” says Hillier, charter manager for Caribbean Yacht Racing Ltd. “Two boats, the Melges 32 and RP 37, plane, we and the King don’t and the Andrews 70 is out so far in front we don’t see them. What each of us needs to do is sail our boats to their potentials.”

Big Trouble, a Melges 32 owned and raced by Chicago, IL’s Tom Elsen, rounds out the top three in CSA Spinnaker 1 going into the last day of racing.

“Our day today was great in every way, and sadly in some ways, a repeat of yesterday. That is, we had another first and another last, from the penthouse to the outhouse,” says Elsen.

Racing was definitely a treat aboard the Royal Danish Navy training ship, Svanen, which like its sister ship, the Thyra, are competing in STIR’s CSA Non-Spinnaker Class as part of the territory’s Transfer Centennial Celebration, or 100 years since the U.S. purchased the islands from Denmark. Both ships are 60-foot, 1960’s-built, Bermuda rigged yawls.

“To race is a special occasion for us,” says Captain Martin Englehardt, “Racing and training don’t go hand in hand. Training, which we mainly do, needs to be slow and thorough. In racing, it’s all about reacting quickly.”

The buoy to buoy part of today’s racing proved a physical one for the beach cat class.

“It was all about hoisting, rounding and dousing,” says St. Thomas’ Teri McKenna, who is crewing for skipper Sandra Tartaglino, on McKenna’s Nacra 17, Flight Risk. The two women are first in class with nothing less than bullets so far.

In the Large Offshore Multihull Class, it’s the 66’ HH Nala, that’s leading. Unfortunately, trouble with the traveler aboard Arethusa that will require some in-yard carbon work, has taken the Gunboat 60 owned by Phil Lotz, of Fort Lauderdale, FL, out of play.

Racing continues and concludes on Sunday.

New this year, STIR introduces its daily Beach Party, with beach games, water toys and DJ music, between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. The festive shoreside vibe continues right to the beachfront awards ceremony on Sunday, starting at 6:30 p.m. Afterwards, there’s a VI Cultural Celebration. www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com
Back on shore, it was “Party like a sailor” to the music of Spectrum Band.


Wind was the Word on the First Day of Racing in the St. Thomas International Regatta

Nearly cat’s paw calm in the morning combined with typical Caribbean tradewinds gusting to 20-plus knots in the afternoon provided something for everyone during the first day’s racing to the Charlotte Amalie harbor and back at the 44th St. Thomas International Regatta. These polar-opposite conditions plus the challenge of round the islands rather than strictly buoy racing proved the talk of why some of the best sailors in the Caribbean, U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand put STIR on their list of must-do’ regattas each year.

“It was certainly tricky sailing,” says Martin van Breems, president of the Sound Sailing Center in Norwalk, CT, whose race-chartered VAr 37, Varuna, crewed by Center members finished the two-race day first in the CSA Non-Spinnaker Class. “We had 10 crew onboard. So, on the downwind leg when it was so light, I had them all up on the bow to keep the stern out and the boat moving. Then, upwind, when the wind picked up, they all rode the rail all the way back.

Competitors in the Large Offshore Multihull Class especially reveled in the afternoon breeze.

“A squall went through mid-day and didn’t progress, but the breeze kept building. That was fine for us. It wasn’t overpowering. In fact, we were able to fly a hull to the finish and that’s what Gunboats like to do,” says Amy Drinker, of Marblehead, MA, who worked the pit with pit boss, Cam Lewis, on the Gunboat 60, Flow, last year’s class winner. Lewis is a well-respected multihull sailor who back in the 80’s broke the mythical Jules Verne 80-day world navigation by less than a day on an 86-foot catamaran and as a result earned the coveted Rolex Sailor of the Year award.

This year’s first-ever one-design C&C 30 class really appreciated both the conditions and the courses.

“I used to cruise down here and am pretty familiar with the islands,” says Walt Thirion, of Annapolis, MD, who owns two boats racing: Nemesis and Themis. “That helped us today as we were able to cut a big chunk of time off the upwind leg by knowing we could cut in closer to certain islands than some other boats in the class without this local knowledge.”

Thirion’s co-owner of the boats, Geoff Ewenson, a former Olympic Finn sailor from Annapolis, MD, vows to grow the C&C class at STIR.

“We plan to have at least 8 boats down here next year,” says Ewenson.

Touch2Play, Canada’s Rob Butler’s J/88, topped the CSA Spinnaker 2 Class.

“It was almost like two separate races today with the wind conditions,” says crew Jeff Johnstone, whose father founded well-known J-boat builder, J Boats USA, headquartered in Newport, RI. “Rig setting are really important in light wind. Trim and drive is everything in big breeze.”

The one-design IC24 is the largest class of the regatta. It’s a design that starts with an old unused J/24 hull.

“We had talked with the original designers of the IC24 here in St. Thomas about doing something like this in our factory, but we have such a loyal J/24 following. However, I’m all for repurposing a boat with a cockpit that is age friendly. The missing in junior sailing programs is keelboat experience,” says Johnstone.

Dave Franzel, head of the new St. Thomas Sailing Center, took an early lead in the IC24 class aboard Bill T. Meanwhile, Team Island Water World with St. Maarten’s Frits Bus at the helm, landed fourth on the classes’ scoreboard.

“It was very competitive and very difficult. We did reasonably well in light air and dropped back in heavy air. While we stayed in contention the whole time, I personally think we still have to find our groove. After all, I haven’t sailed IC24s for two years,” says Bus.

Perhaps the best sailing story of the day was of how Chris Hutton’s bucket list trip to St. Thomas for his 40th birthday proved to be extra special. The Canadians resident’s wife arranged the trip and Hutton was thrilled to get out on the water as a volunteer on one of the mark boats. Little did he know he’d get to go sailing himself when he jumped in the water to help right a Hobie 16 that got slammed by the headwinds and rollers right outside the harbor.

“I’ve always wanted to be a part of the regatta and little did I know I’d have the opportunity to literally jump right in,” says Hutton.

STIR sailors also enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity today when the fleet proudly flew the U.S. Virgin Islands flag and paraded past the waterfront between races in commemoration of the territory’s Transfer Centennial. The U.S. purchased the Virgin Islands from Denmark on March 31, 1917.

New this year, STIR introduces its daily Beach Party, with beach games, water toys and DJ music, between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m on Thursday through Sunday.


Blitz, Hotel California Too & Fujin Class Winners in Round the Rocks Race St. Thomas International Regatta Kicks-off Friday

Twenty-three boats took their start this morning on a 21-nautical mile course that circumnavigated the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John counter clockwise in the Round the Rocks Race. This one-day warm-up for the main event St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), March 24-26, offered a full range of exhilarating sailing challenges from frequent tacks along offshore cays to cross currents and wind shifts around the east end and slalom-like conditions in the downwind. The island’s Virgin Islands National Park served as the picture-perfect backdrop for this incredible and highly competitive course.

“I enjoy any time we’re racing and to win is all the better,” says St. Thomas’ Peter Corr, whose team aboard his King 40, Blitz, finished first in the CSA Spinnaker Racing Class. “We started off across Pillsbury Sound, fought the current and then the winds changed direction and it was tough. The sail up the south side of the island was nice, but then the wind died by the time we got to Coral Bay. After that, we shot around to Francis Bay, enjoying smooth seas although the winds changed direction often. Then, the ride down the north shore was great straight to the finish. We have a lot of experience on the team and it works in our favor.”

El Ocaso, a J/122, which race charters under Caribbean Yacht Racing based in the British Virgin Islands, finished second class, while TAZ, Antigua’s Bernie Evan-Wong’s RP 37, ended third.

“It was a really good race for us today. There were good conditions and we were able to get in the right place at the right time with the currents,” says Evan-Wong, who has finished 9th out of 41 boats in February’s RORC Caribbean 600 and a third place podium finish earlier this month at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

The team aboard the C&C 30, Don’t Panic, didn’t panic at all about not besting the class today.

“We really looked at this as a tune-up for us,” says navigator, John Bonds, Jr., from San Francisco, CA. “The C&C class is growing quickly and very fun. It’s something that we’ve tried to figure out is a big little boat or a little big boat and I think it’s the former. It handles like a bigger keel boat than a larger dinghy, with a nice smooth transition to a plane and then keeps on accelerating.”

Newport, RI’s Charlie Enright served as Don’t Panic’s tactician.

“We usually race windward-leewards so it was nice to have the reaches today,” says Enright, who on Wednesday was announced as a member of the U.S. team for the 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race.

in CSA Non-Spinnaker Racing, it was St. Thomas’ Steve Schmidt driving his Santa Cruz 70, Hotel California Too, that topped the scoreboard. Schmidt, who had planned to spend the day working on his boat in preparation for STIR, decided to sail the Round the Rocks Race at the encouragement of crew member, Tony Sanpere of St. Croix.

“For a last-minute pick-up crew, with experience that ranged from first time on a boat to very experienced, they all did a wonderful job. Because of that, it was very fun for me,” says Schmidt.

Five large offshore multihulls reveled in the breeze and long reaches that the Round the Rocks Race presented. In the end, it was Fujin, a Bieker 53 owned and helmed by Greg Slyngstad of Sammamish, WA, that won based on the new Multi Rule handicap the class is working to perfect.

“Our first race after launching the boat last year was the Heineken Regatta in St. Maarten. Then, we raced the boat up in Newport and along the East Coast last summer. This year, we raced St. Maarten again and won the class. I’ve never sailed off St. Thomas before and we were glad to do well again today,” says Slyngstad.

Fujin was built by Gold Coast Yachts on St. Croix.

“One of the advantages is that the boat is really light – 13,000 pounds for a boat that big is pretty incredible. That’s just one reason is goes so fast,” says Gold Coast’s Roger Hatfield, who sailed with the Fujin team today.