For 49 years, St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) has drawn top regional and international sailors thanks to its renowned trade winds, high caliber sailors, and race management, not to mention coastal courses that offer a test of strategy, navigation, and helmsmanship. Add some of the best scenery in the world, and you have a potent mix for a great regatta. This year’s six divisions welcomed boats ranging from 24 to 70 feet.
In the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA) 0 division, Bostonian Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50 Privateer nailed first with four bullets against Jim Madden’s Carkeek 47 Stark Raving Mad IX, which placed second.
“We really like the coastal courses,” Hanley says. “The team has sailed together for a long time, and we communicate well.”
Privateer’s navigator Ed Cesare adds that, “a lot of the sailors are cooling on the idea of just windward-leeward courses. These courses have all the attributes that are great about coastal racing, and with the addition of the scenery, it is a great event and great courses.”
As for the second-place finisher, Stark Raving Mad IX, Anthony Kotoun—teammate and U.S. Virgin Islander—initially encouraged Jim Madden and his to compete at the STIR. Kotoun, who grew up sailing in St. Thomas, knew that the team would love it there.
“We came to the Caribbean for the wind, and what you get is some amazing racing and competition, too,” he says. “This was such a great week for racing, and we have a boat that really flies in these conditions.”
Peter Corr’s Summit 40 Blitz won the CSA -1 division with eight points followed by the Mills 41 Final Final with 11 points, owned by Jon Desmond. The venerable RP 37 Tax owned by Bernie Evan-Wong placed third with 17 points.
“We had a mindset of what we had to do and then we made it happen as a team,” Corr says. “Each of the boats in our class sailed well but our strength was our consistency.”
In the CSA 2 division, some teams came to test out the new Cape 31 sport boat, with three on the line in a five-boat fleet. Sandra Askew’s Cape 31 Flying Jenny had six bullets. This was the debut event for the Cape 31 in the Caribbean, and it looks like the fleet would like to come back for more.
“The boat responds well when it is sailed well,” says Askew. “The Cape 31 does especially well in the Caribbean’s breezy conditions. We hope more members of the class will come next year.”
In the CSA-3 non-spinnaker class, the Dominican Republic’s Joan Rodriguez’s Beneteau First 40.7 Lady M took first place with four bullets.
“We aimed to have clean starts and play the course as well as we could,” she says. “During these last three wonderful days, the windy conditions were tough so taking care of boat handling was a key point, as well as boat speed and safe maneuvers.”
The CSA-3 fleet also featured Washington, D.C.-based David McDonough on board Trinity IV. While the team placed eighth in their division, having the experience of competitive Caribbean racing is part of their strategy.
“With blue skies, 16- to 18-knot breeze, great crew etc., where else would we want to be? If you love sailing, how can you not appreciate these conditions and what a great job the St. Thomas Yacht Club has done?” McDonough earned the inaugural, perpetual Arthur J. Wullscheleger award for having the “yacht that demonstrated the highest level of positive attitude.”
St. Thomas resident and two-time Olympic sailor Cy Thompson was the top finisher in the 14-boat strong IC-24 fleet with nine first place finishes out of 10 races, finishing with 11 points. Second place went to St. Croix resident and 2018 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games medal winner Peter Stanton with 29 points. Puerto Rico’s Agustin Lazaro-Lugo finished in third place with 29 points.
“Our team had not sailed together that long, so in tight racing like this everyone initially looks at the helmsman. But, at the end of the day it is always the crew work. Any mistakes we made were minimal and minimized.” Thompson says.
Finally, the eight-boat Hobie Wave class featured a kind of generational sea change where the older sailors were watching youngsters ranging in age from 11 to 14 really begin to raise the bar. Although St. Thomas’ Niall Bartlett won on FiDeLa, he noted that “what I have is age and wisdom, but the kids in this fleet are getting stronger with each race and I think in the coming years we will be watching them on the horizon.”
For more on the St. Thomas International Regatta, visit stthomasinternationalregatta.com