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It's time! STIR-up the sailing fun this week - 50th St. Thomas International Regatta

by Carol Bareuther 27 Mar 11:15 PDT March 29-31, 2024
John Foster at the helm of an IC24 in the 2023 STIR © Dean Barnes

Sailors from around the Caribbean and the World are ready to STIR-up the fun this week at the 50th Anniversary St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR).

Nearly 50 yachts are expected to race in this 'Crown Jewel of Caribbean Regattas' set for March 29-31, 2024, and hosted at the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC). Registration for STIR ends Thursday, March 28 at 5 p.m. (AST). A dozen boats are already registered for the Round the Rocks Race, a scenic circumnavigation of the 19-square-mile neighboring island of St. John, on March 28. Get a jump on the fun by entering the Round the Rocks Race on March 28, with registration open until 9 a.m. that day. Known for its iconic class prizes of time, regatta organizers are pleased to announce that the official watches of STIR 2024 are Virgin Islands-designed, Swiss-made timepieces from the Virgin Islands Optima Series by Cardow Jewelers.

Commissioner Joseph Boschulte of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism shares, "It is with great pride that we welcome the participating sailors, guests, and residents alike to the shores of our beautiful home for the St. Thomas International Regatta. Now in its 50th year, the STIR has become a cornerstone event of the USVI boating community, and we are ecstatic for its continued growth advancing the territory as a premier yachting destination."

Sneak peek at who's racing

The roster of entries for STIR 2024 includes a mix of One-Design and CSA-handicap race teams in seven classes.

Trinity IV, a J42, is a late entry this year, competing in her second STIR. Last year's skipper moved to a J40, Trinity VI, and STYC's David Hensley with his crew of J24 sailors from Privateer Yacht Club in Chattanooga, TN, are hoping to sail Trinity IV in the spinnaker class in Thursday's Round the Rocks race as well as STIR in the CSA 2 Spinnaker Racing Class, assisted by St. John's Oleg Popov. As Hensley said, "We're looking for several days of fun and excitement in a very competitive field as we enjoy the wonderful weather and sailing conditions."

The One-Design IC24 Class is the biggest of STIR with nearly 20 entries. Each team boasts its own special story. One of note is St. Thomas' John Foster, racing Desperado. Foster competed in the first STIR in 1974, then called the Rolex Cup Regatta.

"Sailing in the first STIR was very exciting. I sailed my Olympic Class Tempest named 'Teapot' with crew John Hamber. We had sailed the same boat together in the 1972 Olympics in Kiel, Germany. We were joined by Pearson and J boat designs helmed by great sailors Rudy Thompson, Dick Avery, Peter and John Holmberg, Dick Johnson, Art Andrew, and many more," says Foster. "This year, I have gathered my family together to celebrate the 50th STIR. Sailing with me will be my son-in-law Chuck Pessler, grandson-in-law Eric Ferguson and Adam Fuller, and great friend Bobby Weinstein who is flying in from Miami. I am looking forward to sharing this memorable occasion with many friends both young and old.

The recent entry of IC24, Kate, makes the second all-woman team in STIR 2024.

"I try to encourage women's sailing as much as possible and always try to get an all-female team if I can!" says Sarah Swan, who was born and raised on St. John, USVI. "Emily Pearsall will be skippering and sailing with myself, Rebecca Reinbold, Kimmi Murtha, Valerie Tarr, and Nini Champion - all females from the Virgin Islands. "Having traveled to many other places to compete in sailing, there is not a spot I've been to that holds up to these waters."

The other all-women team is Black Pearl, also an IC24, raced by ladies from the USA and Canada.

Junior sailors will get a taste of racing in STIR aboard the IC24, KATS I, which stands for the non-profit marine organization, Kids And The Sea, on St. John, USVI.

"Our team consists of two of our kids who will be sharing racing days, Audie and Anïas, volunteer instructor/coach Matt Gyuraki, Dave Franzel, and myself," says Chris Reinbold. "The boat we are racing on just had a major refit of sanding and fairing of the entire hull along with repainting by numerous volunteers. Dave Frazel, of the St. Thomas Sailing Center, has been instrumental in tuning the rigging and various other systems on the boat. As we all know, sailing in the Caribbean gives challenges with all levels of wind conditions, sea states, and currents which makes for wonderful learning experiences. We hope that these kids as well as others are inspired to continue to learn how to navigate life wherever they go on or off the water."

Strong Sponsor Support - Cardow Jewelers

For a half-century, STIR has been synonymous with awarding prized timepieces to its class winners. This year, the treasured timepieces will be the Virgin Islands-designed Swiss-made watches that embody precision, elegance, and durability, perfect for the adventurous spirit of sailors. The watches are from Cardow Jeweler's Virgin Islands Optima series, which are all named after St. Thomas sites - the Perseverance in stainless steel and black ceramic, the Bordeaux in all black, and the Fortuna in Rose gold and black ceramic.

"Cardow is proud to support the STIR 2024 as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. We believe in promoting excellence, perseverance, and passion, values that resonate deeply with the sailing community," says Carolina de Lyrot, marketing director.

Cardow is renowned for its legacy of crafting exceptional timepieces and jewelry since 1954, celebrating its 70th Anniversary. Its commitment to innovation and quality craftsmanship continues to define the retailer.

Cardow Jewelers has three locations on St. Thomas: #1 Main Street in Charlotte Amalie, the Crown Bay Center, and Cyril E. King Airport.

STIR organizers thank the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism; The Moorings; Milagro Tequila, Bacardi Rum, Stoli Vodka, and Leatherback Brewing, distributed by the West Indies Company; Cardow, K3, and Ocean Surfari for their strong sponsor support.

STIR 2024 is a Sailors for the Sea Clean Regatta, with green initiatives such as paperless event management and a water refill station.

Schedule of events

Racing kicks off for an 11 a.m. start on Thursday, March 28 for the Round the Rocks Race. STIR competition follows Friday through Sunday, with an 11 a.m. start each day. Race courses will be set off the southeast, northeast, and east end of St. Thomas and in Pillsbury Sound between St. Thomas and St. John, with specific courses for each class designated daily by the Race Committee based on weather.

Real-time results for the Round the Rocks race will be posted here, while STIR results are located here.

For more information, visit www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com, Email: or Regatta Co-Director Pat Bailey at , or call (340) 775-6320. Check STIR out on Facebook page, Twitter @stirvi, and Instagram #STIRVI

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