Saturday, March 29, 2014

St Thomas Regatta Preview

J/30 sailing St Thomas regatta(Cowpet Bay, St Thomas, USVI)- The St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) weekend in the U.S. Virgin Islands is a high point for many sailors around the world. Known as the "Crown Jewel of the Caribbean”, it represents an opportunity to shake off the winter dust in preparation for a hard summer's racing. For others, it is a chance to mix sailing and racing with a family vacation in one of the Caribbean's favorite locations. Whatever the reason, the warm clear waters, beautiful surroundings and excellent competition draw you back year after year.

This is the 41st year the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC) has hosted the event and it runs from March 28th to 30th.  This year features not only competitive sailing but some new parties and a first-ever golf challenge to expand the regatta into a sailing festival with something for everyone.

Regatta director, Bill Canfield, commented, “This year we are bringing back our Saturday night party at Yacht Haven Grande hosted by Captain Morgan with the music by local favorite Spectrum Band. Like all events this is open to the public. We are also introducing two new events, a Wednesday golf tournament at Mahogany Run and then a Pub Crawl in Red Hook the same night. Great racing, parties and music. Our slogan remains ‘We love it here!’"

J/122 sailing St Thomas regattaExcitement on the high seas starts Friday with a fleet of over 70 yachts from the Caribbean, America, Europe and from as far away as Russia and Australia.  The first day is the classic “Charlotte Amalie Harbor Race” day.  You can watch from the waterfront as the fleet sails into the harbor and then starts on a second race back to the island’s east end.  Back on shore, the Jump-Up Party kicks off from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. at STYC. The Becca Darling Band plays from 3-6 p.m., with the rhythms of Cool Sessions brass taking over from 7-11 p.m.

Race action continues on Saturday March 29. In the afternoon, there’s music by Sol at STYC from 2:30-5:30 p.m. Then, a new STIR tradition kicks-off with the Captain Morgan Yacht Haven Grande Party from 6:30-11 p.m. Listen to Spectrum Band on stage, while dining and imbibing at nearby restaurants and bars.

Sailors launch off on the last day of regatta competition Sunday March 30. Up for grabs is who will take their place on the podium. Music by Full Circle greets the fleet from 2:30-5:30 p.m. The Regatta Awards Ceremony starts at 6:30 p.m. on the STYC beach, followed by the Final Fling party with Ah We Band playing from 7-11 p.m.

J/100 bad girl sailing St Thomas regattaKeeping that demanding social schedule in mind, there’s plenty of sailing to do around the fabled islands race courses laid out by the St Thomas YC PRO.  As one might expect, a number of good J/Teams are participating including some past class and overall winners in the 69 boat fleet (39 are of J vintage- about 57% of the total).

Topping the list is Rick Wesslund’s Miami, FL team sailing the newly famous J/122 EL OCASO (recent “Most Worthy Performance” winner at St Maarten Heineken Regatta) in what can only be described as an eclectic fleet of boats in CSA Racing I.  Rick’s team will be facing everything from little M32s to large Swan 53s and even a TP52!  Crazy, challenging days are ahead for them depending on the race course!

CSA Racing II sees the classic J/39 CRYSTAL sailed by Jerome O’Neill and his Puerto Rican team from Ponce Yacht & Fishing Club.  If CSA I was an eclectic fleet, then this one matches it for sure with a Santa Cruz 70 sailing alongside a Morris 48 and a slew of “cruisey” 40 footers.

J/105s sailing St Thomas regattaCSA Racing III may easily qualify as the most fun and demanding class in the fleet, with 6 of 10 boats being J’s ranging from the J/24 to J/105s.  Top boat in her division and a past overall winner is Robert Armstrong’s J/100 BAD GIRL sailing with a crew of  high school students from St Croix USVI.  Two well-sailed J/105s will be in the hunt, Jonathan Lipuscek’s DARK STAR from San Juan, Puerto Rico and Jordan Mindich’s SOLSTICE from Huntington, NY.  Paul Davis’s local team from St Thomas YC are sailing the J/27 MAGNIFICENT 7 and they will be chased around the course by the J/80 SUN BUM II skippered by Angel Ayala from Carolina, Puerto Rico and also the J/24 COLIBRI led by Francisco Figueroa from San Juan.

CSA Non-Spinnaker will also be dominated by J/Teams, with 4 of 10 boats competing for class honors. Topping the list is the custom J/120 JAGUAR sailed by Ben Jelic from St Maarten.  They, too, are faced with having to top past class winners like Tom Mullen’s SHAMROCK VII from Campton, NH and Stanford Joines’s J/36 PALADIN from Kings Hill, USVI.  Rounding out this fleet of J’s is Jean Braure’s J/24 BRAVISSIMO III hailing from St Thomas.

IC24s sailing St Thomas regattaIn the TOT Division (time-on-time), the J/70 MINI-CACHONDO will be sailing with Jose Teixidor and his San Juan team against yet another eclectic fleet of boats- from BOTOX BARBIE (a Hunter 54) to GUILT TRIPP (a Tripp 26) and KASTOR POLUX (a Moorings 4300 cruiser).

Finally, a healthy fleet of fourteen IC 24s (modded J/24s) are sailing, the largest class in the regatta.  Notable teams include TEAM LINE HONORS led Taylor Canfield from St Thomas YC, current US Sailings #1 ranked Open Match Race sailor; Marco Teixidor from San Juan helming CACHONDO; and Colin Rathbun from Road Town, BVI sailing TORTOLA EXPRESS.  Sailing Photo Credits- Ingrid Abery.   For more St Thomas Regatta sailing information-  Or, Facebook-