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5th Annual Hotel and Tourism Regatta at St. Thomas Yacht Club

by Carol Bareuther 19 May 21:51 PDT May 18, 2024
5th Annual Hotel and Tourism Regatta Winning Team Coral World (l-r) Wade Werner, Thomas Gmoser, Andres Avila, and Julia Funkouser © Bobby Brooks

The excitement was palpable across the waters of Cowpet Bay during the thrilling conclusion of the 5th Annual Hotel and Tourism Regatta.

Held on Saturday, May 18, and hosted by the St. Thomas Sailing Center (STSC) at the St. Thomas Yacht Club, this annual event brings together teams from the territory's hospitality and tourism sectors to compete in a day of sailing races to foster community spirit and promote sailing in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Teams raced in the STSC's one-design IC24s, with four crew each.

The regatta culminated in a dramatic final race, with three teams tied with six points apiece. The finale, a high stakes contest with a course set around Great St. James Island, saw Team Coral World aboard Boat Drinks, quickly take the lead as the start horn sounded and round the top mark first. Close on their heels were Team Frenchman's Cove aboard Red Dog, followed by Team Margaritaville Vacation Club St. Thomas/Club Wyndham Elysian Beach Resort St. Thomas/Limetree Beach Resort sailing aboard Magic Bus, Team Cruz Bay Watersports on Stinger, and Team Margaritaville Vacation Club St. Thomas on One Love.

The racecourse challenged the sailors as they navigated through the narrow channel of Current Cut into Pillsbury Sound, battling the waves on the Northside of Great St. James Island. The boats then entered the St. James Cut, where fierce currents tested their skills and strategy.

Safely rounding the infamous 'Stragglers Reef,' the teams headed to the final buoy mark before the downwind leg to the finish line. Team Coral World, expertly skippered by Thomas Gmoser and supported by main trimmer Julia Funkouser, jib trimmers Andres Avila and Wade Werner, and onboard instructor STYC Commodore and IC24 designer Chris Rosenberg, sailed to a first-place victory with 4 points.

Team Frenchman's Cove, the 2018 Hotel & Tourism Regatta winner, finished second in the race and secured second place overall with 10 points. Their success came from the skillful sailing of Omaira Rachid, Salvador Hutchinson, Raheem Malone, D'Nia Stevens, Pedro Ramirez, and the top USVI-Swedish coach Peter Sernhede.

Close behind in third, with 12 points, was Team Margaritaville Vacation Club St. Thomas/Club Wyndham Elysian Beach Resort St. Thomas/Limetree Beach Resort. The sailors displayed their bright green shirts and the talents of Alique Briggs, Augustin Schneider, Dijon Carrillo, and Kamoy Gumbs, along with the STSC's Spencer LeGrande aboard as coach.

Cruz Bay Watersports, the 2023 Hotel & Tourism Regatta winner, finished fourth with a crew of Jackie Morrison, Anna Hoppe, Johnny Munshower, and Paul Nunan.

Rounding out the fleet in 5th place, Team Margaritaville Vacation Club St. Thomas sailed with Manion Monsanto, Brandon Beerbohm, Rich Livacs, Andrew Kjaer, and one of the STYC's top women's racers, Kelly Johnson. The regatta was preceded by a three-hour coaching session with 2024 St. Thomas International Regatta Champion Spencer LeGrande, and International Coach, World Champion, and STSC Director, Bobby Brooks, providing teams with invaluable practice and techniques.

"We are thrilled with the level of competition and camaraderie displayed this year," says Brooks. "Congratulations to all teams for their outstanding performances."

Also on the racecourse was the Margaritaville Support Team aboard U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association (USVIHTA) board member Bill Newbold's motor vessel, Sabbatical. Special thanks go to the USVIHTA's President Lisa Hamilton and Public Relations Laurel Kaufmann, the USVI Department of Tourism's Alani Henneman-Todman, Shania Farrington of Margaritaville, Scott Derrickson of Frenchman's Cove, Neil and Trudy Prior with Kristine Tartaglio of Coral World, and Jim Terkelson of Cruz Bay Watersports. The 6th Annual Hotel and Tourism Regatta will take place in May 2025!

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