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Michelob Ultra, Bacardi Rum, Stoli & Milagro, distributed by West Indies Company, official Spirits of the 2021 St. Thomas International Regatta

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St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Hot competition on the seas and premium-brand cold drinks onshore are what sailors can expect at the 5th Round the Rocks Race (RTR) on March 25 and the 47th St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), March 26 to 28. Regatta organizers are pleased to announce that Michelob Ultra, Stoli, Milagro and Bacardi Rum are the event’s official beer and spirits. These beverages will be served according to COVID-19 safety protocols at set- and staggered-time, socially distanced Happy Hours each afternoon, as well as on the menu at the host St. Thomas Yacht Club throughout both regattas. Michelob Ultra will also provide coveted skippers and prize bags. Plus, all these brands are readily available to order at local St. Thomas restaurants each night after racing. Several will also offer Michelob Ultra on special as timed with college basketball playoffs.

Fox, a Botin 52 owned by the USA’s Victor Wild, will sail for the first time in STIR 2021. Credit: Felipe Juncadella/uptopmedia

“Local businesses such as our good friends at West Indies Company, and especially the premium brands it distributes, have stepped up to support our regattas despite these incredibly difficult times,” says regatta director, Dave Franzel. “It’s fantastic to have such great support from the community. We want to show our support too by encouraging our sailors, their family and friends to visit local restaurants each night for dinner and order these brands when they do. This helps us adhere to COVID-19 protocols by keeping attendance under 100 at the Club. To make it easier, we’ll have a free to sailors safari taxi van shuttle that will run between the Club and Red Hook between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. from March 25 to March 28.”

A favorite of athletes in many sports, Michelob Ultra is recognized for its full-flavor, low-calorie, low-carb brew that won’t weigh sailors down as they sail up the course. Stoli and Milagro are both known for their ‘tradition meets modern’ appeal, something STIR is equally famous as this favorite Caribbean regatta approaches the half-century mark. Finally, what’s a Caribbean regatta without rum? Bacardi, known for its tagline, ‘Do What Moves You’, is sure to keep sailors moving on the racecourse and competition extremely tight.

“West Indies Company is excited to be a part of STIR 2021,” says Keiya Canton-Brooks, Marketing Director. “Our company came on board as a sponsor in 2019 because we wanted to be associated with one of the premier sailing events in the Caribbean. We believe soon that the St. Thomas International Regatta will be bigger and better than ever!”

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Who’s Racing

Over 30 yachts are registered for STIR 2021, with more expected to enter. Classes include CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association) Racing, CSA Non-Spinnaker, One-Design IC24 and One-Design Hobie Wave.

The big boat CSA Racing Class entries include Fox, a Botin 52 owned by the USA’s Victor Wild, a member of the New York Yacht Club, San Diego Yacht Club and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

“FOX was built in 2020,” says Keiran Searle, team manager. “We are a multi-national crew who love to sail! “We have been lucky enough to sail regularly during COVID with our own team safety and COVID policies. We take the team’s health very seriously.

It will be our first trip to the Caribbean with FOX, we are excited to enjoy the sailing.”

The Stanton brothers from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, have entered a Melges 24, Devil, in the CSA Spinnaker Racing Class and have chartered the IC-24, Red Dog, from the St. Thomas Sailing Center to compete in that class too.

“The Melges 24 we’ll be sailing is owned by the St. Croix Yacht Club’s Past Commodore Morgan Dale. Morgan won’t be sailing with us, but his son Mathieu will race as the jib trimmer and helping with tactics,” says Peter Stanton. “We have sailors from St. John, St. Croix and Puerto Rico coming over to crew both boats, with my brother Scott skippering the IC24, Chris the Melges and myself. We look forward to the challenge of sailing in less familiar waters. The whole adventure of traveling to a different island as a team will be a breath of fresh air.”

Nearly 20 one-design IC24s will be on the start line for STIR. One of those is Voila, a St. Thomas Sailing Center charter with an experienced crew from Puerto Rico aboard.

“Enrique ‘Keki’ Figueroa is the star on our helm,” says Gregory Fink, Voila crew. “Keki won STIR on a Hobie 16 in 2001 and 2002 and made several attempts to win again on his J24 Exodus and more recently an IC24. Jose ‘Chepo’ Perez crewed for Keki on the Hobie 16 for two CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Games campaigns and has been the jib trimmer on the IC24. If Keki is the star, Chepo is the comic relief. He’s always joking, keeping the tension down, always to restart and ready to win. I’ll be on the foredeck. I love sailing archipelagos! The sea-land interactions make for great and varied wind and water conditions.”

STIR’s other one-design class is an 8-boat fleet of 16-foot, single-handed Hobie Waves.

“I am looking forward to going back to my home paradise and sailing on the beautiful waters with great competitors,” says Michael Compton, an accomplished boardsailor who has competed in several continental and world championships. “It’s going to be more of a fun experience for me because I have not crossed a start line in 14 years, so I’m not the most serious competitor out there. Just the opposite of my brother, Marcus Compton, who won the Hobie Wave class in the 2020 STYC Invitational last June. I am truly so excited for the regatta to begin and to see what the future is STIRring up for me!”

COVID-Safe Top of Mind

Sound COVID-19 protocols implemented by the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands have kept infection rates low. Key among these is that every traveler, age 5 and older, entering the territory by air or sea, is required to use the USVI Travel Screening Portal and submit a COVID-19 test result before travel. https://usvitravelportal.com/ On arrival, social distancing is the rule and, in most businesses, ‘No Mask, No Service’ is in force.

At STIR, social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand sanitization stations are among COVID-19 protocols. On the water, crews in boats such as the one-design IC24 are limited to three this year, and bigger boat classes will remain in social bubbles throughout the regatta. Onshore, there will be staggered class finishes and Happy Hours daily. There will be two awards ceremonies on March 28: 4 pm for IC24s and Hobie Waves, 5 p.m. CSA Racing and Cruising boats.

Strong Sponsor Support

The STYC and STIR organizers thank the USVI Department of Tourism; Michelob Ultra, Stoli, Bacardi, and Milagro distributed by West Indies Company; Cardow Jewelers, and other sponsors organizers look forward to announcing shortly.

How to enter

For more information, call (340) 690-3681, Email: dave@stthomassailingcenter.com For more information, visit stthomasinternationalregatta.com For the Notice of Race (NOR) and to register, visit yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=14270 STIR is also on Facebook!

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

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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