Picture postcard sailing conditions set the scene for the St. Croix Yacht Club Hospice and Optimist Regatta, raced February 11 to 13 out of the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix. Out of 20 boats competing in four classes, St. Croix’s Morgan Dale driving his Melges 24, Boogaloo, won first place in the Racing Class and earned his weight in Cruzan Rum.
“Wind velocities of 16 to 18 knots on the first day favored us and we were able to capitalize on the Melges’ planing abilities,” says Dale. “The second day’s wind speeds were a little less which allowed Smile and Wave (Puerto Rico’s Jaime Torres’ Beneteau First 40), our primary competition, to improve their score to the point that we only won by one point after finishing with three firsts the first day and getting away with two port tack starts over our class on the second day.”
In Performance Cruiser, St. Thomas’ Lawrence Aqui, driving his new Dufour 40, Wild T’ing, a Performance Plus version built in France and outfitted with all the toys for club racing, handily won in razor close racing.
“I must admit we had a bit of luck in that one of our closest competitors, Shamrock VII (the USA’s Tom Mullen’s J95), was disqualified from one of the races on the first day, which put us into the number one spot,” says Aqui, who attributes his success to long time crew who collectively are a healthy mix of hot headed hard core sailors and calm and experienced yachtsmen. “We successfully defended this position on the second day.”
Going fast upwind led to St. Croix’s Jim Kloss’ victory in the Fun Racing Class aboard his S2 7.9 Ambivalence.
“We were clearly the fastest boat in class going upwind but had to struggle to keep our lead on the reaching legs when the bigger boats with longer waterlines and masthead rigs were faster,” says Kloss, who sailed with two teenagers aboard, DJ Lorsbach and Jean Patalidis.
The multihull class is dwindling in St. Croix, one of the last strongholds for this fleet in the Caribbean, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm for racing by class winner, St. Croix’s Joe San Martin, aboard his Teegull 23, Piglet.
“It was easy,” says San Martin of his win. “Rainbow Rider (St. Thomas’ Ray Styles 46-foot catamaran) dropped out after the first race. I completed the courses and told the race committee I was retiring from the race. The next day, Rainbow Rider did come out, but I went to Buck Island with my wife and friends. Hopefully, St. Croix and St. Thomas will recruit more multis in the future.”
Eighteen junior sailors competed in the Optimist Regatta, an event simultaneously held within the St. Croix Yacht Club Hospice Regatta. St. Maarten’s Rhône Findlay won both the 13 to 15 year-old Red Fleet and the Overall Award, which earned him his weight in Gatorade.
“The heavy wind was helpful to attaining a good lead,” says 14 year-old Findlay. “In the races in heavy winds I was well ahead of second place finishers. When winds died on the second day, the upwinds were intense and downwinds very technical with neck-and-neck tacking duels to the finish with Julio Rojo from Puerto Rico, who is smaller than me.”
The St. Croix Yacht Club Hospice Regatta benefits local hospice, Continuum Care, Inc.
“In 2010, the St. Croix Yacht Club sought to enhance the decades long annual international regatta and did this by joining forces with Continuum Care Inc. of the Virgin Islands (CCIVI) and the National Hospice Regatta Alliance, a non-profit association of hospice regattas that independently raise money and awareness for local hospices,” explains Vicki Bandola, regatta director. “With support for events such as the St. Croix Yacht Club Hospice Regatta, the goal of providing compassionate care for every member of our community is reachable.”
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.