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Team Coral World Emerges as Winners of 5th Annual Hotel and Tourism Regatta

Winners Team Coral World. From left, Wade Werner, Thomas Gmoser, Andres Avila, and Julia Funkouser. (Photo by Bobby Brooks)

The excitement was palpable across the waters of Cowpet Bay Saturday, as Team Coral World emerged the winners during the conclusion of the 5th Annual Hotel and Tourism Regatta 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 members each, according to the press release. 

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 Dogfollowed by Team Margaritaville Vacation Club St. Thomas/Club Wyndham Elysian Beach Resort St. Thomas/Limetree Beach Resort sailing aboard Magic BusTeam Cruz Bay Watersports on Stinger, and Team Margaritaville Vacation Club St. Thomas on One Love, the press release stated.

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

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 four points, it stated.

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, according to the release.

The 2024 Hotel & Tourism Regatta is underway. (Photo by Bobby Brooks)

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, it said.

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

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, which provided teams with invaluable practice and techniques, it said.

Also on the racecourse was the Margaritaville Support Team aboard U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association board member Bill Newbold’s motor vessel, Sabbatical, it said.

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

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