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Windy Weather Welcome at Coral Bay Thanksgiving Regatta

Colin Hanson’s Buxom ll, built in Argentina in 1933 and well-manned for this event. Photo: Peter Hoschl
Colin Hanson’s Buxom ll, built in Argentina in 1933 and well-manned for this event. Photo: Peter Hoschl

Windy weather proved advantageous to the winners of the Coral Bay Yacht Club’s Thanksgiving Regatta. The 32nd running of this traditional post-holiday regatta, held November 29 and 30 out of St. John’s easternmost settlement, saw blustery conditions ranging from 12 to 30 knots with five to six-foot seas and the occasional squall. Over 20 yachts competed, ranging from a couple of Lasers to nearly century old classic wooden Gaffers plus several makes, lengths and ages in between, which is a hallmark of this perennially-anticipated regatta.

St. Thomas’ Warren Stryker, helming his 54ft Hunter, Botox Barbie, capitalized on the conditions to win both first place and first overall in the first day’s singlehanded race as well as in the PHRF class on the second day’s pursuit-style race. “The first day we nailed the start and never looked back,” says Stryker. “With a 51 handicap, I really had no idea what was going on behind me and the sole strategy was to get around as fast as possible. Halfway to the weather mark (by the way I love islands as marks!) we were hit by a squall that knocked us down. I would have tucked in a fast reef if I had crew, but with the calmer weather that inevitably follows I decided to stick with it.”

Bob Hoovan and Little Wing coming to the finish line. Photo: Peter Hoschl
Bob Hoovan and Little Wing coming to the finish line. Photo: Peter Hoschl

The second day, Stryker continues, “was another fabulous sailing day once we got away from Johnson’s Bay. Our start was not near so clean when our high risk port tack strategy was hampered by some too-early balking at the line by starboard-tackers. With assistance at the helm by my able crew, Rebecca Rowe, I was able to reef repeatedly as needed when we hit the squalls on the outside. Botox Barbie shines in heavy chop and heavy air. She weighs 20,000 pounds (10 tons).”

Another double-day winner was St. John’s Colin Hanson. Hanson won the Gaffers class both days aboard his 1938-build custom wooden ketch, Buxom II. “We went back and forth for the lead with John Costanzo’s locally-built 32ft custom ketch, Calabreeze. Our secret to success was really having the right breeze for the boat. Buxom II is 33ft and weighs 12.5 tons. We had the rails in the water both days all day long.”

Chuck Pessler’s IC24 Desperado. Photo: Peter Hoschl
Chuck Pessler’s IC24 Desperado. Photo: Peter Hoschl

Saint John’s Pat Lococet, sailing aboard his 50ft Morgan, Kalina, winner of the over 40ft Pursuit class, enjoyed some sparring of his own. “We started behind some of the boats in our class but quickly passed them on the first windward leg,” Lococet explains. “Our next goal was to catch our friendly rival from Cruz Bay, Cloud 9 (Jason Beasley’s Beneteau 405SM). We caught them before the first mark. Kalina weighs 24 tons and needs a bit of wind to get going, but once she does, watch out! We had perfect winds for the old girl that day. Her best point of sail is to windward and this race had nice long beats to windward. My crew worked hard to keep the lead downwind.”

The Coral Bay Yacht Club’s Thanksgiving Regatta is one of the oldest in the Virgin Islands and benefits the St. John Kids and the Sea (KATS) program. “KATS has provided many children of St. John with a basic understanding of seamanship, racing rules and practical hands on racing,” explains Stephen Hendren, Coral Bay Yacht Club’s commodore. “Some of the kids such as Mimi Roller and Paige Clark have gone on to Olympic and other international racing. Program directors Jenn Robinson, Thatcher and Vickie Lord, Julie Fortunato and many, many others are the teachers who make this program so successful.”

Sponsors included Skinny Legs Bar & Restaurant, which also hosted the after-race party and awards ceremony, and Glazer’s Premier Distributors, LLC, which donated Cruzan Rum for prizes as well as skippers gift bags. The regatta was also supported by the St. John business community.

Next up is the Commodore’s Cup set for May 3 and 4. This regatta is sponsored by all three of St. John’s yacht clubs – the Coral Bay Yacht Club, the St. John Yacht Club and Nauti Yacht Club. There’ll be lots of fun and good prizes for all. For information, Email: henstjohn@yahoo.com

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