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Eclectic Fleet in 29th Annual Coral Bay Thanksgiving Regatta

Thirty-five vessels—everything from an 18-foot Bequia-built double-ender to 110-foot-three-masted schooner, mono and multihulls, traditional wooden yachts and fiberglass production boats, cruisers and racers, liveaboards and weekenders, single-handers and several-handers—set sail in the 29th Annual Coral Bay Yacht Club Thanksgiving Regatta, held off of St. John’s east end on November 27 and 28. What didn’t show up in any force for the racing was the wind.

On the first day of sailing, when the single-handed and gaffers raced, St. John’s Brion Morrisette, owner and skipper of the 18-footer, Sweet Ting, remarked about the nearly lack of breeze, “Ghosting around the course seemed to be our collective fate, which was not the day of exciting, close quarters sailing that all sailors love. At least I had the satisfaction of knowing that my little Bequia boat would move at least as well as any other boat in light air, though she likes wind.”

After the Skipper’s Meeting, Morrisette said, “John Costanzo, owner of Calabreeze, a Coral Bay-built cowhorn, flashed a pirate’s crocodilian smile at me, and threatened nicely to exterminate me in the Gaffers Class that we would both soon be sailing in. It was a cheeky threat worthy of Johnny Depp, as he knew that Sweet Ting would dance circles around him, especially in light air—but the pre-race banter was almost as much fun as the race itself.”

In the end, Sweet Ting did indeed win the Gaffers under 35-foot class, with Calabreeze, a 32-foot custom built Block Island schooner, finishing second in class.

The second day, when all classes raced in even lighter wind, Calabreeze nearly got its revenge on Sweet Ting and the two raced in the Traditional under 35-foot class.

“That day”, says Costanzo, “we had a Pursuit start. Since my boat is slower, I had one of the earlier starts. We sailed out to Flanagan and rounded it to starboard and then to LeDuck leaving it to starboard when the wind died to nothing. All I had was the downwind left. It was so funny to see all the racing boats behind me, not gaining on me at all. It’s usually the other way around.”

Even so, Morrisette’s Sweet Ting, weighing only a couple thousand pounds did beat Calabreeze with its seven-ton keel by an elapsed time of over an hour.

However, Costanzo did win the Peter Muilenberg “Spirit of the Regatta” award.

“I’ve raced this regatta every year except the one when I went to my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary,” says Costanzo, “so I guess it was my turn.”

Peter Muilenberg and a group of friends, who had all built their boats in Coral Bay, founded the Coral Bay Yacht Club in 1982 and founded the annual Coral Bay Yacht Club Thanksgiving Regatta. Today, the event is a fundraiser for the local Kids and the Sea (KATS) program. Raffle tickets were sold for the prize of a new Caribe 13 and Yamaha 15. 

Denise Wright, who has raced her Cal 27, Reality Switch, in the Thanksgiving Regatta since the mid-80’s, won the prize. Prizes and trophies were all awarded at the after party held at Skinny Legs Bar & Restaurant, the host Coral Bay Yacht Club’s official “home.”

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