The countdown is on! The first horn on the start of the 49th St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) is only five weeks away.
Some 50 yachts are expected to race in this event, set for March 24-26, 2023, and hosted at the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC).
There’s still time to enter. Everyone is invited! CSA racing and cruising; ORC; Large Multihull; Hobie Waves, and One-Design classes with a minimum length of 20 feet. Stirring up the STIR 2023 excitement are new entries, a new trophy, and the renewed sponsorship of The K3 Company, a leading manufacturer of premium outdoor products and longtime STIR sponsor that will provide the skipper’s bags and top prize bags for class winners.
The USA’s Victor Wild’s Botin 52 FOX wins Round the Rocks Race at the 48th St. Thomas International Regatta © Dean Barnes
“Now in our third year since the pandemic, we anticipate over 50 entries and are happy to see sailors remember the great times they have had racing in St. Thomas and are returning. New this year, we welcome three Cape 31 teams to race. We will present a new trophy, the inaugural Arthur J. Wullschleger Happy Days and Never Better Award. Strong sponsor support is a hallmark of STIR, and we appreciate the valuable sponsorship of K3. If you haven’t registered yet, I invite you to do so now. As we say here at STYC, ‘We Love It Here’, and for STIR we add, ‘everyone is welcome from high-performance racers to family racer cruisers.'”
Exciting Entries for STIR 2023
Nearly 50 boats are registered to date for STIR 2023, with more expected in the countdown to the start. The STIR 2023 fleet includes vessels from 24- to 70-foot, in CSA Spinnaker, CSA Non-Spinnaker, and One-Design classes, with crews hailing from the Caribbean, USA, and Europe. For the first time, STIR welcomes three entries from the new Cape 31 class. These include Ireland’s Guy Williams of the Royal Ocean Racing Club on Adrenaline, the USA’s Marc McMorris’ M2 representing the San Diego Yacht Club, and the USA’s Sandra Askew’s Flying Jenny, hailing from both the New York Yacht Club and Annapolis Yacht Club.
“I like the fact that the class is owner driven and that it allows three pros, thus only requiring three additional amateur crew which are very manageable for me,” says Askew, who most recently sailed STIR on her C&C 30, and credits the Club’s welcome and camaraderie, the color of the water and opportunities to also scuba dive in the U.S. Virgin Islands as the reason for her return. “The Cape 31 is designed by Mark Mills who designed my C&C 30, so I knew it would be a fun boat to drive downwind. It wasn’t hard to discern by watching the fleets in Cape Town and England, that competitors were all having a blast. David Swete has done a great job promoting and expanding the Cape fleet in the UK and he is a big reason I bought the boat. Plus, the Cape 31 fits into a container making it easy to transport to places like the Caribbean.”
Askew’s Flying Jenny team hails from the USA, the UK, and Australia. Three of the crew are Grant Spanhake, a veteran of multiple America’s Cups and Round-the-World Races, plus coach and sail designer for several Olympic medal-winning teams; Josie Glidden, Top Woman at the 2021 Moth Worlds; and Rob Greenhalgh, who has won both the Volvo Ocean Race and Extreme Sailing Series.
Back racing in the CSA 1 Class is the USA’s Martin van Breems, president of the Sound Sailing Center in Norwalk, Connecticut, on the Hanse 400 Bermuda High.
Start of the Round the Rocks Race at the 48th St. Thomas International Regatta – photo © Dean Barnes
“We have loved racing at the St Thomas Yacht Club for over 22 years, and have rarely missed the regatta. In 2017 we won our class in Varuna. This year we are racing on Bermuda High, which I used to own and sold to Frank Fenoglio. Frank just turned 80 and cruises Bermuda High extensively. We will be doing STIR as co-captains this year. Of course, the beautiful water and warm consistent winds with incredible tropical scenery are the top draw, but the friendly competition and great parties ashore are also high up there. It’s easily our favorite regatta and a high point of the year,” says van Breems.
At 15 entries strong, the one-design IC24 class is the biggest and hands-down the most competitive for STIR 2023. The chance to charter one of these vessels from the St. Thomas Sailing Center and race is a big draw for teams from New England, Chicago, and California. However, it’s the home-grown Virgin Islands talent that will be hard to beat. One of these entries is St. Croix’s Peter Stanton, on his Big Island.
“We are looking forward to STIR as our first major regatta of the year, to debuting our new IC24 and racing in this class,” says Stanton. “It’s a beautiful place to sail in and out to the open ocean for some fun racing.”
The talent onboard is huge. Joining Stanton are his brothers Chris and Scott, and Angelo Raimondi from St. John. Scott and Peter won the J24 class at this event in a three-way tiebreaker in 2002, while Chris topped the CSA 2 class on his Melges 24 at the 2006 then-named Rolex Regatta.
New Trophy Named After a Sailing Legend
The top three teams in each class win prizes and awards. There are special trophies too. This year debuts the new Arthur J. Wullschleger Happy Days and Never Better Award. Wullschleger, nicknamed Tuna, was a veteran International Sailing Judge with events from the America’s Cup to STIR under his belt. As a longtime STIR judge, Wullschleger was known for his toasts to ‘Happy Days’ and saying in response to inquiries about his well-being ‘Never Better’. As the trophy is inscribed, it will be ‘presented to the yacht the demonstrates the highest level of positive attitude, enthusiasm, and comradery on both the race course and ashore.’
Strong Sponsor Support – K3
Podium placing teams in each class will win either K3’s Bravo 40L waterproof backpack, K3’s Alpha 24L waterproof backpack, or K3’s Typhoon 35L waterproof dry back backpack. Additionally, each registered skipper will receive a K3 Icon 15L dry sport bag. This is the first time the Bravo, Typhoon, and Icon styles will be awarded at STIR. Each of the products catered towards sports, travel, and the adventurous sailing community.
“We at K3 are very proud to again partner with and support the historic St. Thomas International Regatta,” says Matt Gnagi, vice president of product development. “This is one of the pre-eminent ocean races in the world, a bucket list event for sailors everywhere. We have enormous respect for the STIR Regatta, the competitive landscape, and sportsmanship, which is renowned worldwide.”
STIR organizers thank the USVI Department of Tourism; The Moorings; Ocean Surfari; and K3 for strong sponsor support.
K3 waterproof bag – photo © K3
Get Ready, Get Set….
Bring your own boat (BYOB) or charter!
Caribbean Regatta Logistics, owned and operated by St. Thomas native Ben Beer, can assist owners and teams in bringing their boats to race. (Tel: 340-998-6203; Email: email@example.com), Web: www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com/faq/caribbean-regatta-logistics)
Boats competing in CSA Classes at STIR require a CSA rating. The CSA has moved all measurement requests to its online portal caribbean-sailing.com/apply-for-measurement/, thus simplifying the process of submitting both the request and payment. Boats that need to renew, or apply for a partial or complete measurement, must use the portal too.
Chartering makes it especially easy to fly in, jump on a race-ready yacht, and sail!
A limited number of IC24s are still available for race charter from the St. Thomas Sailing Center (www.stthomassailingcenter.com/st-thomas-international-regatta.) The charter fee is US $3200 with new sails (used in no more than two previous regattas) and US $2800 with very good sails. Either choice includes the use of an IC24 for the Friday through Sunday event, a practice day on Thursday, and a 30-day membership in the St. Thomas Yacht Club. To reserve, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (340) 690-3681.
Over half a dozen outfits are offering vessels to charter either by boat or crew spot for STIR 2023. For a list, visit www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com/regatta/charter-companies
For more information, visit www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com,
or Regatta Co-Director Pat Bailey at email@example.com or call (340) 775-6320.
Check STIR out on Facebook (www.facebook.com/stirvi), Twitter @stirvi, and Instagram #STIRVI
by Carol Bareuther