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2022 St. Thomas International Regatta Day 2 - Leads lengthen in keen competition

by Carol Bareuther 26 Mar 19:54 PDT March 25-27, 2022

Owners and skippers are the rock star faces of racing yachts. But it takes a team to sail around competitive round-the-islands courses, a signature feature of the St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), and to do so in a winning style.

Many times, there is some infamy among the crew too. Take Fox, for example, the beautiful blue-hulled Botin 52 owned and raced by the USA's Victor Wild, which leads the CSA 1 Class with two first-place finishes for the day. Fox's bowman, Harry West, was a former Australian boy-band member. Mid-bow, Leland Hubble, is a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps and decorated veteran, and navigator, Nacho Postigo, raced many years onboard King Juan Carlos of Spain's racing yacht, Bribon. For nearly a half-century, STIR has been a must-do event for some of the best sailors in the world as well as a bucket list regatta for weekend warriors who revel in the chance to trade tacks with the big guns. That is indeed what happened today as nearly 50 yachts with crews hailing from the Caribbean, USA, and Europe raced in champagne sailing conditions.

Leads Lengthen

Leaders from Day 1 held their top-of-the-class positions in CSA 1, 2, and 3. Yet, fellow competitors raced hard to grab a place on the podium.

"It was the sun and sea that brought us to St. Thomas and the fantastic racing and friendly people that is making for a fun weekend," says Chris Mason, tactician on the UK's Johnny Mordaunt's Fast40+, Tschuss, which finished the day fourth in CSA 1. "The team sailed well today. It's all about teamwork. We have some locals onboard that are helping with local knowledge on wind and currents. Racing around the islands is so much more fun, and interesting, than windward-leeward courses around the buoys."

In CSA 2, the USVI's Peter Corr's Blitz remained in the lead despite a third in the second of two races today when a crew member landed overboard and then safely reboarded. Nipping at Blitz's heels is Puerto Rico's Jaime Torres helming his Melges 32, Smile and Wave. Torres, with a talented team that has only sailed as a team for three days, is now only two points behind Blitz

"Our strategy was to win the starts and we did," says Torres, whose crew members include Gretchen Ortiz on foredeck. Ortiz, with skipper Enrique Figueroa, represented Puerto Rico in the Nacra 17 Foiling in the 2020 Summer Olympics. "We are the slowest in the class upwind, so we must hold off everyone at the start. Then, we're the fastest downwind. So, it's all about sailing fast and not making many mistakes."

Puerto Rico's Bastian Sarh led the CSA 3 Class on his Beneteau 10m, Chili Pepper. The USA's David McDonough, driving his Pearson 37-2, Trinity III, happily completed both races.

"Racing was off the charts today," says McDonough, who jokes that he's got the lock on last place. "It was a delightful day on the water and for us, it was all about having fun. We have a crew that ranges from a ringer from New England to a rookie from Georgia who has never sailed before. We like to say racing is simply an excuse to go sailing, and that's what we did."

Wonderful One-Design Racing

STIR hosts likely one of the largest one-design fleets of any major Caribbean regatta. Nearly 20 one-design IC24s raced around windward-leeward courses off St. Thomas' south shore in Jersey Bay. Puerto Rico's Marco Teixidor and his team on Cachondo continue at the top of the class by 2 points. The USVI's Cy Thompson on Bill T had an incredible day, going from 6th place after being disqualified in the first race Friday for being over the start line early to second behind Cachondo today.

"He (Marco) is fast, so the game plan was to mess him up at the start by luffing on him or forcing him over. He's a friend, and we've sailed with and against each other since Optimist dinghy days, and that makes it hard. But this is a competition," says Thompson, a two-time Olympian representing the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Laser class.

Today was the first of two days the Hobie Wave one-design class sailed. The USA's Michael Compton finished first, with a trio of wins in seven races. The USVI's Kyrre Culver ended the day mid-fleet in scores but enjoyed racing in the tight-knit fleet.

"Almost all of us have sailed together before. However, the triangular courses, with windward-leeward leg kept it interesting," says Culver.

The St. Thomas Yacht Club owns both its IC24 and Hobie Wave fleets, which are used for sailing instruction and race charters by the Club's St. Thomas Sailing Center.

Racing concludes on Sunday, with the first start at 11 a.m. and courses set off St. Thomas' East End. The Awards Ceremony follows at 5 p.m. at the St. Thomas Yacht Club.

Strong Sponsor Support

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; Seas the Day Charters for strong sponsor support.

To follow the action, check out STIR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Real-time scoring is available at yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=14738 under Race Results. For more information, visit stthomasinternationalregatta.com.

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