Seventy yachts from the Caribbean, U.S., Europe and Australia will take to the seas on Friday for the 41st St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR). Hosted out of the St. Thomas Yacht Club May 28 to 30, the big buzz this year is the sheer impressiveness of the fleet.
Rick Wesslund’s J/120 El Ocaso won its class in the 2013 regatta.
'We couldn’t be happier with the turn-out and the caliber of boats,' says regatta director, Bill Canfield. 'This event has transformed from Caribbean-driven in its inception to a truly world-class international regatta.'
One of the most exciting classes to watch will be CSA Racing 0. The six boats in this class represent five nationalities and some of the hottest race boat designs. There’s the TP 52 Near Miss, from Switzerland, that won the 2012 Giraglia Rolex Cup. Highland Fling XII, Monaco’s Irvine Laidlaw’s 2011-launched TP 52, is back after losing its rig at mark one of race one two years ago. Tonnerre de Breskens 3, owned by the Netherland’s Peter Vroon, is competing in this event for the first time having won the RORC Points Championship in Europe in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
The CSA Racing 2 Class boasts everyone from last year’s winner, El Ocaso, a J/122 helmed by Miami, Florida’s Rick Wesslund to OnDeck Sailing’s race chartered Beneteau First 40.7, Spirit of Athena. The Spirit of Athena has a nice mix onboard of experienced and first-time crew who collectively hail from France, Australia, the Philippines, U.S. and U.K.
'The competitiveness and the friendliness is why we came,' explains Spirit of Athena skipper, the U.K.’s Steven Ginger. 'We’re aiming to finish in the top five. If we get there I’ll be happy.'
The USVI's Taylor Canfield, number one ranked world match racer, returns home to fleet race in St. Thomas International Regatta in an IC-24. L to R: Top: Taylor Ladd, Stephanie Roble, Bottom L to R: Taylor Canfield, Matt Clark and Mike Rehe - St. Thomas International Regatta
Two one-design classes, Melges 32s and IC24s, will be thrilling to watch because of the sheer energy and talent in these classes.
'One-design sailing is amazing,' explains Puerto Rico’s Jaime Torres, who will drive his Melges 32, Smile and Wave. 'The great thing about one-design is that everyone who races this ways gets better and better, so there is a lot of good competition.'
Torres sentiment is certainly echoed through to the 15-boat IC-24 class as well. Chief among the entries is Team Line Honors, with the USVI’s Taylor Canfield on the tiller with the USA’s Stephanie Roble among the crew. Canfield is currently the number one ranked match racer in the world and Roble the top ranked woman match racer in the U.S.
'I’ve been doing some fleet racing this winner but as a main trimmer and calling tactics,' says Canfield. 'It’s different seeing it from the helm. However, we’re really looking forward to fleet racing in this regatta as there is some really good back and forth in the IC-24 class. Plus, there is a lot to learn by doing both types of racing – fleet and match racing.'
Non-spinnaker racing, cruising and multi-hull classes round out the fleet.
The racing starts at 11 a.m. on Friday with the course set to Charlotte Amalie harbor. In the afternoon, the Jump-Up Party kicks off from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. at St. Thomas Yacht Club. The Becca Darling Band plays from 3-6 p.m., with the rhythms of Cool Sessions brass taking over from 7-11 p.m.
On Saturday, racing is off the southeast side of St. Thomas. From 6:30-11 p.m., be part of a new STIR tradition by attending the Captain Morgan Yacht Haven Grande Party. Listen to Spectrum Band on stage, while dining and imbibing at nearby restaurants and bars.
Sailors launch off on the last day of regatta competition on Sunday March 30. Up for grabs is who will take their place on the podium. Music by Full Circle greets the fleet from 2:30-5:30 p.m. The Regatta Awards Ceremony starts at 6:30 p.m. on the STYC beach, followed by the Final Fling party with Ah We Band playing from 7-11 p.m.
Weather Routing Inc. (WRI) is the Official Weather Provider for the STIR and will provide forecasts by 6 a.m. daily during the regatta. These forecasts are available at: www.wriwx.com/clientproduct.php?id=4759 Weather maps and products specifically created for this event are also available at this link.
For more information about the STIR and real-time results, click here or, follow for the latest information on Facebook, Instagram #IRRSTYC and Twitter @IRRSTYC