St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. A fleet of nearly a dozen yachts sets sail in the first-ever Round the Rocks Race on Thursday, March 24. This 21-mile counter clockwise circumnavigation of the beautiful island of St. John will give racers a good chance to tune-up crews and shake-down yachts, while experiencing great racing conditions that span both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It’s a perfect way to get ready for the main event ‘Crown Jewel of Caribbean Yacht Racing’ – the 43rd St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), March 25 to 27.
“Having done the St. Maarten Heineken and St Barth’s races, the opportunity to race around an island in the Caribbean is sweet,” says Jack Desmond, from Marion, MA, who will sail his Swan 48, Affinity, in the Round the Rocks Regatta. “It’s a test of your navigational ability as well your ability to keep your boat sailing to its maximum potential. The crew is engaged in the race and the geographical beauty of the harbors and coves as we pass, well, it can’t get much better.”
A sampling of other entries taking part in the Round the Rocks Regatta include Norwalk, CT’s Steve and Heidi Benjamin aboard their TP 52, Spookie; Long Beach, CA’s Doug Baker driving the J/122 Team Magnitude-El Ocaso; Antigua’s Bernie Wong at the helm of his RP37, TAZ and Puerto Rico’s Jose Teixidor’s Hanse 455, Cachondo in the CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association) Spinnaker Class. In addition to Desmond’s Affinity, St. Croix, USVI’s Tony Sanpere will sail his Catalina 30, Nauticayenne in the CSA Non-Spinnaker Class. Finally, the Large Multihull class sees two entries, Rye, NY’s Robert Alexander’s Gunboat 60, Fault Tolerant and Boston, MA’s Stephen Cucchiaro’s Gunboat 60, Flow.
All Round the Rocks entrants receive HIHO Suntek Shirts, from event sponsor, HIHO a British-Virgin Islands’-based clothing company. These shirts are perfect for sailing, in that they are fast drying, ultra-lightweight and comfortable with an SPF 50. The HIHO owners will be racing in the Large Multihull and IC24 classes. In addition, the first 24 Round the Rocks entrants receive a K3 Bluetooth Outdoor Speaker.
First place finishers in each of the three Round the Rocks Race classes receive a limited edition timepiece created by Cardow Jewelers, headquartered in St. Thomas, U.S. VI since 1954. The Love City, named for the relaxed island of St. John, is a product of Swiss craftsmanship and Virgin Islands design, which is water resistant, scratch resistant, shock resistant, with sapphire crystals, a working chronograph and stop watch. The watches also have date functions, luminous hands to help read at night or in the water, and a limited lifetime warranty. There will also be prizes for second and third place class finishers.
The Round the Rocks Awards Ceremony takes place on the beach at the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC), starting at 7 p.m. Afterwards, the Welcome Party kicks off with Music by Dirty Johnny and the Whisky Pistol Band.
On Friday, March 25, nearly 80 yachts with crews representing five Caribbean island nations, the U.S., Europe, South America and Australia/New Zealand will set sail in STIR.
“We have a great fleet of boats this year, including new one-design VX One and Gunboat classes,” says regatta registrar, Lyn Reid.
Friday’s course takes sailors along the southside of St. Thomas, into the Charlotte Amalie Harbor, and then back east. Best vantage points to watch on shore are the Waterfront Apron and Frenchman’s Reef Marriott Beach Resort between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Ashore, live music starts at the STYC at 2:30 p.m. by the Third String All Stars, with Cool Session Brass taking over the stage from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The competition continues Saturday, March 26, off the northeast and southeast side of St. Thomas. Then, party like a sailor starting at 7 p.m. at Yacht Haven Grande with Spectrum Band.
Racing concludes on Saturday, March 27, with the Awards Ceremony on the beach at STYC starting at 6:30 p.m. The Final Fling Party starts right after with Ah We Band. Winners in each of the STIR Classes also receive limited edition ‘Island Watches’ by Cardow Jewelers.