Hurricanes couldn’t stop the 25th anniversary of the St. Croix International Regatta. Originally scheduled for November 2017, the two-in-one event kicked off with the one-day Captain Nick race to Christiansted Harbor and back to the host St. Croix Yacht Club on March 8 followed by the two-day silver jubilee regatta on March 9 and 10. Despite the date change, the Regatta hosted a highly competitive one-design Rhodes 19 class, held its reputation as a large multihull event and added a new class: 29ers.
The weekend’s win in the Rhodes 19s was a triumph of survival of the fittest for Chris Stanton and crew Joseph Noel, aboard the Rhodes 19, Rhode Devil. Blustery wind conditions on the first day of racing caused the class to suffer a series of breakdowns. Before the start of the first race, Beecher Higby’s AVA broke her boom. During the first race, Up De Rhode, with 16-year-old Rider Odom driving, damaged a chain plate. During the second race, Morgan Dale’s Rhode Runner broke its main halyard, leaving Stanton along with the husband and wife team of Chris and Deb Schreiber on Chrys, in a match race.
“While on a downwind leg behind Chrys, I was struggling to stabilize our boat in a 25-knot gust when my rudder broke off at the waterline and sent me into a violent Chinese gybe,” says Stanton. “This is when I found out it’s possible to capsize a keelboat and that my boat still has enough foam in the hull to keep it from sinking even with the decks awash. Leaving one boat to finish the race. That’s when the race committee said that we have had enough for the day. We were not the fastest boat on the course but our theory on keeping it simple kept us in front with the least number of mistakes.”
Rhode Devil, repaired and back on the course the next day, having finished first in four out of five races, won Stanton his weight in St. Croix’s own Cruzan rum, the regatta’s signature prize.
A strong breeze and stiff competition in the form of a couple of Corsairs proved challenging for Joe San Martin, aboard his Teegull 23, Piglet, winner of the Multihull class.
“When you look at them (the Corsair Sprint 750 sailed by the BVI’s Eddie Brockbank and Corsair F-31 driven by Scott Johnston) at the dock they are concerning. When you look at them in motion they are scary. A big lead in multi-racing means very little. Ultimately, crew chemistry, boat preparation and constructive panic were our secrets to success,” says San Martin.
Nearly 20 dinghies competed in the St. Croix International Regatta in-shore event. These included Optimists and, for the first time, 29ers. In fact, this regatta was the qualifier to choose USVI teams to attend the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships in Texas, USA. Taylor Hasson and Steve Hardee qualified for the boys, and Kate and Lucy Klempen for the girls.
“We had great conditions both days and everything just came together for us. Steven and I have worked really hard to get where we are and have raced all over the world, but we will have to work even harder to be ready for the intense competition in Texas this summer,” says Hasson.
Overall, the regatta went well considering many of the race boats had been on the hard since the beginning of September and some fell over in the storm.
“The regatta has had set backs over the years and hurricane Maria did not help,” says regatta director Karen Stanton. “We’ve decided to move our dates to the spring and hope to increase participation in the coming years.”
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.