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Seaworthy? Minimalist Regatta Showcases Good, Bad and Sinky

March 1, 2009 — Under a tree at the St. Thomas Yacht Club, Paul Stoeken and his buddies hurriedly guided a power saw down the length of a two-by-four. They had less than 30 minutes to finish converting a couple strips of duct tape-bandaged plywood into something seaworthy.
"We're protesting anyone who finishes on time," declared one of Stoeken's helpers with a smile, as they quickly jury-rigged a vessel and paddle.
Nearby on the beach sat their competition, many glinting with fresh paint, names etched on their sterns, the products of hours of planning and building. One looked like a big blue guitar. Another named "Rose, The Maneater, VI," had a jaw on its bow with nails — or rather, teeth — that gripped a small doll.
A total of 12 boats vied Sunday in the first annual Minimalist Regatta at the St. Thomas Yacht Club, the launch pad for generations of world-class sailors. But Sunday's event conjured a different skill. It required little sailing savvy and lots of practical know-how.
Stoeken, owner of a water-sports business called Island Sol and a regular in the world of sailing regattas, brought both. By day's end, his hastily constructed boat, dubbed "Eye Sore," was the fastest of them all, outplaying the guitar and gobbling up the maneater.
The regatta was designed to challenge one's imagination and design skills. Each boat could be made of nothing more than one sheet of quarter-inch plywood, two eight-foot two-by-fours, one roll of duct tape and a pound of fasteners. And, oh yes — some paint, if desired.
"The Minimalist Regatta is clearly the soapbox derby of the Caribbean," observed Margo Lynch, whose stepson, Thomas Walden, captained an entry. "It's where parents and kids can work together and get on the water and have fun."
Asked what his secret was, Stoeken, a self-described procrastinator, put it all down to self-preservation.
"I think I was motivated to get around the course before the boat sank," he said with a laugh.
While Stoeken took the main event, he was bested in the relay race portion of the competition by the Red Baron, built by the Gartner family.
"Our strategy is, we're surfers," Karl explained. He and his wife, Pam, and son, Nicholas, used their paddling skills to relay their sideless, surf-board-looking vessel to victory.
Dan Nicolosi and Monesh Mohanani enjoyed a different kind of victory with their entry, "Mess." The V-shaped vessel, decorated with random slaps of black paint on blue, was the hands-down winner of the Sinker Award. Like Stoeken, the builders of Mess got a late start. The two men and their families started collaborating at 9 p.m. the night before.
"We had the paint all over the kids at 12 at night," Mohanani explained. Their mothers "were not too happy."
Procrastination is where the similarities to Stoeken's team ended. Nicolosi got halfway to the bouy when his hands flew in the air, his feet pointed skyward and his water-filled boat upended and sank.
While most contests were clear cut, it was up the audience to judge which boat was the "Most Stylin'." Captain Bruce White and his team's whimsical craft, "Sexy White Ting," brought hoots from the beach-filled audience, thanks to such touches as a rear-view mirror, a cupid's arrow and various slogans painted on the helm including, "Make love not war."
Sponsors of the regatta were Premier Wines and Spirits and Modern Saute Caterers. The latter entered a sleek, black rig dubbed "A Lil Mo," named in honor of their friend, Ashley Holdcraft, who died in a Red Hook traffic accident last summer.
Part of the proceeds from the event will go to support the junior sailing program at the Yacht Club. Based on Sunday's turnout, the event will be repeated, and often.
"This is the best style regatta the Yacht Club has," said Stoeken, who is consistently involved in local races and has been part of a winning crew of the International Rolex Regatta, sponsored annually by the Yacht Club. "This is better than Rolex. Don't get me wrong — Rolex is great. But this entire event is social; it's about getting everyone together and hanging out and having fun."
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March 1, 2009 -- Under a tree at the St. Thomas Yacht Club, Paul Stoeken and his buddies hurriedly guided a power saw down the length of a two-by-four. They had less than 30 minutes to finish converting a couple strips of duct tape-bandaged plywood into something seaworthy.
"We're protesting anyone who finishes on time," declared one of Stoeken's helpers with a smile, as they quickly jury-rigged a vessel and paddle.
Nearby on the beach sat their competition, many glinting with fresh paint, names etched on their sterns, the products of hours of planning and building. One looked like a big blue guitar. Another named "Rose, The Maneater, VI," had a jaw on its bow with nails -- or rather, teeth -- that gripped a small doll.
A total of 12 boats vied Sunday in the first annual Minimalist Regatta at the St. Thomas Yacht Club, the launch pad for generations of world-class sailors. But Sunday's event conjured a different skill. It required little sailing savvy and lots of practical know-how.
Stoeken, owner of a water-sports business called Island Sol and a regular in the world of sailing regattas, brought both. By day's end, his hastily constructed boat, dubbed "Eye Sore," was the fastest of them all, outplaying the guitar and gobbling up the maneater.
The regatta was designed to challenge one's imagination and design skills. Each boat could be made of nothing more than one sheet of quarter-inch plywood, two eight-foot two-by-fours, one roll of duct tape and a pound of fasteners. And, oh yes -- some paint, if desired.
"The Minimalist Regatta is clearly the soapbox derby of the Caribbean," observed Margo Lynch, whose stepson, Thomas Walden, captained an entry. "It's where parents and kids can work together and get on the water and have fun."
Asked what his secret was, Stoeken, a self-described procrastinator, put it all down to self-preservation.
"I think I was motivated to get around the course before the boat sank," he said with a laugh.
While Stoeken took the main event, he was bested in the relay race portion of the competition by the Red Baron, built by the Gartner family.
"Our strategy is, we're surfers," Karl explained. He and his wife, Pam, and son, Nicholas, used their paddling skills to relay their sideless, surf-board-looking vessel to victory.
Dan Nicolosi and Monesh Mohanani enjoyed a different kind of victory with their entry, "Mess." The V-shaped vessel, decorated with random slaps of black paint on blue, was the hands-down winner of the Sinker Award. Like Stoeken, the builders of Mess got a late start. The two men and their families started collaborating at 9 p.m. the night before.
"We had the paint all over the kids at 12 at night," Mohanani explained. Their mothers "were not too happy."
Procrastination is where the similarities to Stoeken's team ended. Nicolosi got halfway to the bouy when his hands flew in the air, his feet pointed skyward and his water-filled boat upended and sank.
While most contests were clear cut, it was up the audience to judge which boat was the "Most Stylin'." Captain Bruce White and his team's whimsical craft, "Sexy White Ting," brought hoots from the beach-filled audience, thanks to such touches as a rear-view mirror, a cupid's arrow and various slogans painted on the helm including, "Make love not war."
Sponsors of the regatta were Premier Wines and Spirits and Modern Saute Caterers. The latter entered a sleek, black rig dubbed "A Lil Mo," named in honor of their friend, Ashley Holdcraft, who died in a Red Hook traffic accident last summer.
Part of the proceeds from the event will go to support the junior sailing program at the Yacht Club. Based on Sunday's turnout, the event will be repeated, and often.
"This is the best style regatta the Yacht Club has," said Stoeken, who is consistently involved in local races and has been part of a winning crew of the International Rolex Regatta, sponsored annually by the Yacht Club. "This is better than Rolex. Don't get me wrong -- Rolex is great. But this entire event is social; it's about getting everyone together and hanging out and having fun."
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.