Wind plays a huge role in who wins in yacht racing. The 48th St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) delivered a little something for everyone, from gusts to 25- to 30- knots during Thursday’s warm-up Round the Rocks race to a light 8- to 10- knots breeze Sunday. In the end, five teams – Fox, Blitz, Chili Pepper, Bill T and Total Recall – showed their prowess in handing these conditions to top their respective classes – in two classes by a tiebreaker. Each class winner received a precision Virgin Islands-designed timepiece, The Pirate, from Cardow Jewelers.
“Congratulations to the winners of this year’s St. Thomas International Regatta. We are grateful to all the competitors who continue to choose the U.S. Virgin Islands as the premier destination for sailing,” said Commissioner Joseph Boschulte of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism.
In the CSA 1 Class, it was the USA’s Victor Wild’s Botin 52, Fox, that won with all first-place finishes.
“We came for the wind. It was breezy at the start of the regatta, then it progressively dropped. It opened my eyes to the variety of conditions that are possible here. The light winds today meant it was shiftier and puffier. Still, it was great sailing,” said Andy Horton, Fox’s tactician.
The USVI’s Peter Corr’s Summit 40, Blitz, and Puerto Rico’s Jaime Torres’ Melges 32, Smile and Wave, tied on points after three days and six races. The tiebreaker, Blitz’s two first-place finishes for the regatta compared to Torres’ one, handed Blitz the prize.
“Our strategy is to always sail the best that we can and to work as a team. Key is to sail to the wind; the wind decides. High winds, low winds, we were constantly tweaking the boat to keep it going fast. Sometimes it’s all the little things that count,” said Corr.
Puerto Rico’s Bastian Sarh won the CSA 3 Class on his Beneteau 10m, Chili Pepper.
“We were overpowered the first day and underpowered the last day. We finished first in every race until today when we got a 4th and 6th. So, today was difficult, but it didn’t stop us from sailing and having a great time,” said Sarh.
One of the most incredible sailing feats happened in the one-design IC24 class. Puerto Rico’s Marco Teixidor and his team on Cachondo led the uber-competitive 18-boat fleet from Day 1 and started today 12 points in front of the second-place boat, Bill T, driven by the USVI’s Cy Thompson. The ultimate win for Bill T came down to the last race and literally at the finish line.
“We went out today knowing we had to chip away at Cachondo’s lead. In the last race, we needed to put five boats between us to win. At the last second, two boats passed Cachondo, and literally, at the finish line, the entire outcome of the regatta changed for us,” said Chris Rosenberg, tactician aboard Bill T.
Thompson, a two-time Olympian in the Laser Class, said, “The wind was oscillating a lot today, but the team did a good job and kept the boat moving.”
St. Thomas Taylor Rice and Eric Cusin, and St. John’s Winn Majette rounded out the Bill T crew.
Finally, it was also a nail-biter finish in the one-design Hobie Wave Class. After 13 races in two days, it was the USA’s Michael Compton and the UK’s Niall Bartlett who finished tied on points. Again, the tiebreaker was the total number of first-place finishes, and Compton beat Bartlett 6 to 5, respectively.
“I was the only one who steered the tiller with my foot. Doing that moves my body weight forward and enables me to go faster. I did that all three days. The other thing is that since I finished fifth last year, I looked at all the places I messed up like weak starts and poor boat speed. I targeted these things in my training, and this year I came out on top,” said Compton.
A few men sailing on a boat
Nearly 50 boats with sailors hailing from the Caribbean, USA and Europe competed in STIR.
The 49th STIR will take place March 24 to 26, 2023, with the Round the Rocks Race on March 23, 2023.
To see photos and news from the regatta, check out STIR on Facebook (www.facebook.com/stirvi), Twitter @stirvi, and Instagram #STIRVI. Full scores are available at: https://yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=14738 under Race Results.
STIR organizers thank the USVI Department of Tourism; Cardow Jewelers; The Moorings; K3; Bacardi Rum, Michelob ULTRA, Stoli Vodka and Milagro Tequila, distributed by the West Indies Company; Ocean Surfari; and Seas the Day Charters for strong sponsor support.