Friday, March 23, 2018

St Thomas International Regatta Preview

J/122 El Ocaso sailing St Thomas (Cowpet Bay, 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 for 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!”

There is no question many sailors are answering that siren call!  For those that 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!

J/122 El Ocaso sailing St ThomasA dozen boats are registered for the third annual Round the Rocks (RTR) race on Thursday. This one-day event, whose course is a 19 mile circumnavigation of the neighboring island of St. John, is a great way for teams to tune up for the main event starting on Friday. Boats sailing in the Round the Rocks race will start off St. Thomas’ east end off Cowpet Bay, sail counterclockwise around St. John, and finish off St. Thomas.

“By popular demand, we brought back the Round the Rocks race this year. This sprint around St John is both scenic and tactical. It’s a great way to kick-off STIR, especially with Rock City Brewing Company sponsoring the race and after-racing Happy Hour,” says regatta director, Bill Canfield.

The twelve-boat race fleet is split into two groups: CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association) Spinnaker and CSA Non-Spinnaker classes.  Sailing in CSA Spinnaker is Don Nicholson’s J/121 APOLLO.  Nicholson commented;

“This is the third ‘big boat’ in our program; Apollo replaced my custom 42 footer. We have been racing as a core crew for about 15 years; the core crew being myself, Denise Bienvenu, Paul White and David Malkin, including two Newport-Bermuda races, a Chicago-Mackinac race, and numerous other regattas on both coasts of the USA. But, we have never raced as a team in the Caribbean. So, we are extremely excited to be honing our skills with this exciting new boat in such a wonderful venue. We also have Jeff Johnstone from J/Boats on board for the RTR and STIR.”

Amongst the fleet of forty-five boats for STIR are two very quick J/crews racing the preeminent class in the event- CSA 1.  Continuing their battle offshore and around the buoys during the Heineken St Maarten Regatta will be Nicholson’s J/121 APOLLO and the famous J/122 EL OCASO.  Interestingly, both boats will have mostly new crews!  Robin Team’s crew from North Carolina (winners of multiple Key West Race Weeks and Ft Lauderdale-Key West Races on board their own J/122 TEAMWORK) have chartered EL OCASO and will be vying for class honors in their very tough eight-boat division.  For more S.T.I.R. sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.