Perfect Sailing Conditions Day One of St. Thomas Yacht Club Invitational Regatta

St. Thomas William ‘Bill’ McConnell on One Love (foreground) races nearly neck and neck with St. Thomas’ Chuck Pessler on Desperado. (Credit: Dean Barnes)

The thrill of competition and a pent-up delight at being back on the water racing have summed-up sailors’ sentiment on the first day of the inaugural St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC) Invitational Regatta sponsored by the USVI Department of Tourism, Leatherback Brewing Co. and MUTINY Island Vodka. Twenty-one boats, with skippers hailing from all three U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, USA and Sweden, completed six races on windward-leeward and round the island courses.

Conditions proved why the U.S. Virgin Islands is a world-class sailing destination: sunny skies, 4- to 5-feet swells and an easterly breeze blowing 15- to 20-knots.

COVID-19 protective measures as directed by the USVI Government’s Open Doors phase were visible with boats socially-distanced, crew limited to double-handed on IC24s and single-handed on Hobie Waves, and facial buffs in place.

“The Department of Tourism warmly welcomes participants from the Caribbean, the U.S. mainland and Sweden to the first annual St. Thomas Yacht Club Invitational Regatta. We trust you will have a wonderful experience exploring our waters and enjoying the offerings of our islands while observing the health and safety guidelines in place for the safety of both residents and visitors. The return of marine tourism is vital to our economic recovery, as it is a strong contributor to the economic development of the territory, and we are always pleased to support this important sector,” said Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte.

Rosenberg Leads IC24 Class

A 10-point lead put St. Thomas’ Chris Rosenberg and son Christian at the top of the scoreboard after the first day of racing. The senior Rosenberg may know more about the IC24 than anyone, except fellow St. Thomas boatbuilder Morgan Avery. The two teamed their talents back in 2001, after successive hurricanes destroyed much of the Club’s fleet, to convert J/24 hulls into a one-design Inter-Club boat that was easy for all ages to sail yet highly competitive.

Today, the STYC’s St. Thomas Sailing Center (STSC) owns a fleet of over a dozen of these boats, making it possible for sailors to fly in from neighboring islands or from around the world to race without having to transport their own vessels to the venue. It’s a concept that will become reality as the STYC Invitational Regatta becomes even more international at its second annual, May 14 to 16, 2021.

This year, two teams from Puerto Rico are racing in the regatta.

“We’re a bit rusty since we haven’t raced since last December, but we are focused on good starts, being on the right side of the course and boat handling,” said Efrain ‘Fraito’ Lugo, from Ponce, Puerto Rico, with Pablo Mendez on the bow. “Plus, any time you can spend time with family and friends like this is priceless.”

It’s been a year since fellow Puerto Rican sailor Jaime Balzac has raced, given the pandemic plus becoming a first-time father to twins. “My crew, Ricardo (Alvarez), is a long-time cruiser but a new-time racer, so there’s a learning curve. It’s fun. And, it’s just great to be out on the water.”

Two instructors for the KATS (Kids and the Sea) program in Coral Bay, St. John, are each helming an IC24 with junior sailors as crew. One is Jasper Moon, with 15-year-old Arjuna Danobeitia; the other is Jarrett Altmin, with his 14-year-old son Dylan.

“This is my first time racing an IC24. What makes it fun is the great breeze and the competition is so tight. It’s also nice how the race committee is mixing up the racing with a combination of windward-leeward and around the island courses,” said Altmin.

The Hobie Wave Class exemplifies how easy it is to socially-distance in the sport of sailing. (Credit: Dean Barnes).

Greenberg on Top in Hobie Waves

Only four points separate St. Thomas’ Evan Greenberg, who is currently first in the Hobie Wave class, from St. Thomas’ Marcus Compton in second.

“I’ve been doing the Thursday night Hobie Wave series the STSC runs, but this is my first real regatta. It’s a whole other level of competition with a full fleet of boats and rules. I’m a competitive guy, so I like it,” said Greenberg.

Nearly half of the sailors in the Hobie Wave class are women.

“It’s great to be out with the other boats racing in an actual regatta. There’s such a great community spirit. Plus, when you’re out there, just you and your boat, it’s possible for forget about the pandemic for a little while,” said St. Thomas’ Kyrre Culver.

The STYC Invitational Regatta will commemorate a perpetual trophy, which will be awarded to the winning teams and dedicated to Rudy Thomson and Dick Avery for their long-standing contributions to STYC and Olympic racing and inspiring sailors of all ages.

For more information about the STYC Invitational Regatta and STSC sailing lessons, call Dave Franzel, [email protected], 690-3681, or visit: https://stthomassailingcenter.com/

Day 1 Results

IC24 Class (Boat Name, Skipper Name, Home, Points)

  1. Bill T, Chris Rosenberg, STT, USVI (10)
  2. Roundabout, Eric Cusin, STX, USVI (20)
  3. 3. Magic Bus, Dave Franzel, USA (23)
  4. Red Dog, Fraito Lugo, Puerto Rico (25)
  5. Huron Girl, Mike Finley, STT, USVI (27)
  6. Boat Drinks, Peter Sernhede, Sweden (30)
  7. Black Pearl, Ted Reshetiloff, BVI (43)
  8. One Love, Bill McConnell, STT, USVI (51)
  9. Desperado, Chuck Pessler, STT, USVI (51)
  10. Stinger, Kevin Wakelee, STT, USVI (56)
  11. KATS Pajamas, Jarrett Altmin, STJ, USVI (62)
  12. Viola, Jaime Balzac, Puerto Rico (72)
  13. KATS Meow, Jasper Moon, STJ, USVI (76)

Hobie Wave Class (Name, Home, Points)

  1. Evan Greenberg, STT, USVI (15)
  2. Marcus Compton, STT, USVI (19)
  3. Julian van den Driessche, STT, USVI (19)
  4. Kim Duff, STT, USVI (25)
  5. Kyrre Culver, STT, USVI (28)
  6. Oriel Blake, STT, USVI (33)
  7. Joyce Campbell, STT, USVI (40)
  8. Nate Brooks, STT, USVI (40)
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