St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The combination of perfect conditions with 15- to 20 knots of breeze out of the east, keen competition and professionally set racecourses made the 2021 St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), sailed March 26-28, a winner. In the end, and after six round-the-islands races over three days, San Diego, CA’s Victor Wild’s Botin 52, FOX, won the CSA Spinnaker Racing Class and St. Thomas, USVI’s Lawrence Aqui’s Dufour 40, topped the CSA Non-Spinnaker Racing Class. Following 15 sprint-style windward-leeward races also in a trio of days, St. Thomas, USVI’s Chris Rosenberg led the One-Design IC24 Class. Finally, it was St. Thomas, USVI’s Mark van den Driessche, who after two days and 16 races scored the win in the One-Design Hobie Wave Class. Each class winner received a famous, special edition, island timepiece from Cardow Jewlers.
“Congratulations to the winners of this year’s St. Thomas International Regatta and kudos to the St. Thomas Yacht Club for executing a successful and safe event. The St. Thomas International Regatta was the only major regatta in the Caribbean that wasn’t canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a testament to the insightful leadership and smart policies enacted by the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands to ensure we can offer fun events and engaging experiences while keeping our residents and visitors safe. We look forward to welcoming everyone back for the amazing marine schedule of events being rolled out throughout the remainder of the year,” says Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte.
Secrets to Class Success
Thirty-three boats with crews representing all three USVI, the Caribbean, USA and Australia competed in four classes
“It has been fantastic to race against such dedicated sailors in our first international regatta with our newest boat, FOX,” says Wild. “STIR is the most incredible sailing we have ever experienced, and we look forward to returning in 2022!”
St. Thomas’ Peter Corr and his crew on the King 40, Blitz, finished second, while St. Croix’s Chris Stanton helmed the Melges 24, Brew STX Crew, to third in the CSA Spinnaker Racing Class.
In CSA Non-Spinnaker Racing, it was organization and a crew familiar with the boat that led to Aqui’s Wild T’ing’s triumph.
“Three of our crew have sailed with me for over a decade and the others for 4 to 5 years. That’s what helped it all come together for us this year. We’ve been second or third in the past, but this year is a first for a first,” says Aqui, who added that it was the strong breeze and round island courses he enjoyed best.
Puerto Rico’s Fernando Montilla’s Tartan 10, Timon 2, placed second in CSA Non-Spinnaker Racing, with fellow islander Jose Teixidor’s Hanse 455, Portomar, in third.
The 14-boat IC24 Class proved the most competitive with it being nearly anyone’s win going into the last day of racing. In the end, Rosenberg, who served as tactician, with St. Thomas’ two-time Olympic sailor Cy Thompson on the helm, and experienced St. Thomas sailor Addison Caproni on the bow, won the class on Bill T.
“The first day for us was a learning curve, then on day two and three we honed in on what was working. It takes two sails to win, and Addison trimmed the jib perfectly. Cy was spot on with every start within a half a boat length of the line. It takes three to win and that’s what we worked hard to accomplish,” says Rosenberg.
In the Hobie Wave Class, the first and second place sailors were respectively father and son, St. Thomas’ Mark and Julian van den Driessche.
“Consistency paid off,” says the senior van den Driessche. “It was really important not to take any big scores because the racing was so close. Usually, when we sail in the Thursday night Hobie races, it’s my son Julian who beats me.”
STIR 2021 concluded on Sunday with two awards ceremonies to keep crowds low as part of overall COVID protocols. Awards emcee, St. Thomas’ Pat Bailey, received the Commodore’s Trophy for his many years of dedication to Virgin Islands sailing.