Great Turnout for Coral Bay Thanksgiving Regatta

Over fifty vessels – ranging from a 100-foot-plus schooner to 8-foot Optimist dinghies – set sail in the 25th anniversary Coral Bay Thanksgiving Regatta.

“It was great to see so many people come out,” said Sara O’Neill, one of the event organizers who raced her family’s home, O’dege, a Camper Nicholson 33, to a second place in the Single-handed 30- to 40-foot Class. “We had sailors and boats from St. Thomas and Tortola as well as St. John, new faces and old friends. We also had some of our early commodores of the Coral Bay Yacht Club join us, such as Dave Dostall, who came over from Ireland. We had several of the Coral Bay-built cowhorns out too, like Callabreeze, Penelope, Torres and Breath.”

Breath, a 42-foot Coral Bay-built ketch, placed second in the Gaffers over 35-foot class. At the helm and crewing, respectively, were owners Peter Muilenburg and wife Dorothy. It was back in 1982 that Peter and a group of friends who had all built their boats in Coral Bay decided to start the Coral Bay Yacht Club.

A few years back, Dorothy Muilenburg explained: “The goal of the club was two-fold: First, to fix the dock. Second, to have a fun race or two. Finding a time was difficult between regattas scheduled in Tortola and St. Thomas. But, eventually we decided on Thanksgiving weekend. It was just after hurricane season, most of the boats were back in the water or back from traveling either north or south. Plus, it’s an up-spirited time of year.”

Racing got underway November 24 for the Gaffers under and over 35 foot and for the Single-handed classes under 30-foot, from 30- to 40-foot, and 40-foot and over. The following day, November 25, saw racing for the Traditional, Cruising and PHRF classes as well as Optimists, Lasers and 420s.

O’Neil describes, “Winds were light the first day, about 15 knots in the morning, then dropping to 8 to 10 knots in the afternoon. The next day, winds blew a steadier 12 to 15 knots. Both days, the course traversed from a start in Coral Harbor, then wound around offshore cays – Pelican, Flanagan and Leduck – before finishing back in the harbor.”

What makes the regatta so much fun, O’Neil adds, is that “the racing is so close. We plan so the slower classes, the gaffers and the smaller boats, leave first. This way, everyone passes and sees everyone else out on the course.”

There is no overall winner in this regatta, but individual class winners instead. This format easily accommodates such a mixed fleet of boats.

However, one vessel that did shine in their sailing was Windshift, a Vanderstadt 30, skippered by Stephan Schultz. Windshift won both the Single-handed 30- to 40-foot class the first day and the PHRF class the second.

“Windshift just came out of the yard, all cleaned up, and Shultz sailed amazingly fast,” says O’Neil. “It was really cool to see this 30-footer out beating a 57-footer – Vince Barnett’s Columbia 57, Rainbow Maker.”

The event wrapped up with an Awards Presentation at Skinny Legs Restaurant & Bar, with music by Hudson and the Hoodoo Cats.

Complete name, skipper, boat make and skipper’s home island for all winners was not available.

Gaffers – 35-foot & Under
Callabreeze, John Costanzo

Gaffers – Over 35-foot
Liberty, Thatcher Lord

Single-handed 30-foot & Under
African Queen, Andrew Cameron

Single-handed 30- to 40-foot
Windshift, Stephan Schultz

Single-handed 40-foot & Over
Rainbow Maker, Vince Barnett

Traditional – Under 40-foot
Callabreeze, John Costanzo

Traditional – Over 40-foot
Liberty, Thatcher Lord

Cruising I (Under 30-foot)
Ensign, Jan Robinson

Cruising II (30- to 40-foot)
Oulala, Mike Kirk

Cruising III (over 40-foot)
Mary Ellen, Mary Ellen Silverman

Windshift, Stephan Schultz

Elliott Class
Silver Cloud, Elliott Hooper

Addison Hackstaff

Vicki Rogers

Ian Beam and Hugo Roller

Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.