When the first horn sounded at the Nov. 28 and 29 Coral Bay Thanksgiving Regatta, Osprey was first across the finish line located outside Coral Harbor. The Luders 44 is owned by St. John residents Larry Best and his wife, Lee Stanciauskas. Best said he got new-to-the-boat sails from Osprey’s St. Croix-based sister ship, Frolic, which gave him the edge.
"They were perfect sails on a perfect day," Best said. He and his crew have raced in the Thanksgiving Regatta about 16 times, and Best said every time, he’s had Nelson Uzell as his grinder. Best gave credit to all his crew, but particularly Uzell for his hard work.
Like Best, numerous participants said they liked the lighter winds that blew 10 to 14 knots for the two-day event. A total of 18 boats raced in Nov. 28’s single handed regatta, with 27 participating in Nov. 29’s crewed race. While the PHRF (Performance Handicap Racing Fleet) boats raced in their own class, the race committee changed the format for Saturday’s race for the other boats. Instead of racing by classes, the boats raced pursuit style with the boats starting at different times based on a handicap determined by the race committee.
"We took the results from the last five years," Dick Burks, who co-chairs the race committee, said. The first boat across the finish was the winner, but the committee also gave awards based on boat size. The regatta brought out plenty of experienced sailors, including some on boats that lived on long after their owners.
"Stu trained it well," George Stuckert said of the late Stu Lister. Lister, who died many years ago, sailed on Zing, a J-30 now owned by Stuckert, a St. John resident.
Other participants had only sailed for a few weeks before they entered the race. Marie Naisby and her crew of three fellow St. John residents took up sailing at the St. John Kids and the Sea adult program. They sailed one of the KATS boats, an Ensign 23 called Thetes, to a first place finish in the under 30 foot class. "We had a wonderful crew and we got along well," she said.
Every year for the past several years, the members of Coral Bay Yacht Club, which sponsored the regatta, and those who attended the post-race party at Skinny Legs Bar and Restaurant in Coral Bay raised their glasses to someone who died during the past year. This year it was Dan McClung, who died recently.
McClung, with his wife Marla, owned C4th, a Coral Bay company that manufactures embroidered hats and shirts. They were long-time supporters of the regatta. "We’ll miss him," master of ceremonies Dave Dostall said.
The regatta committee also honored Augie Hollen, who built the first Cowhorn boat on the beach at Coral Bay. Hollen received the Coral Bay Thanksgiving Regatta’s Steve Dawes Spirit of the Regatta award for spearheading the effort that eventually saw nine boats built on Coral Bay’s beach.
"It was accidental," Hollen said after receiving the award. He started building a boat, but said soon there was so much interest, he built a mold so he could share the design with others. One of those early Cowhorns still sails out of Coral Bay Harbor. It started its life as Gallette but is now named Callabreeze and owned by St. John resident John Constanzo.
Editor’s note: For more on Augie Hollen and Cowhorn boats, read Peter Muilenburg’s memoire in this month’s issue.
Long time St. John resident Lynda Lohr lives in Coral Bay. A reporter by trade, she has written for numerous international, national, regional, and local publications as well as travel and news websites.
Nov. 28 results
Single handed under 30 feet
Single handed 30 to 40 feet
Dream Time, 2:01:40
Cloud Nine, 2:24:21
Single handed over 40 feet
Gaffers 35 feet and under
Sweet Ting, 2:27:04
Gaffers over 35 feet
Nov. 29 results
Under 30 feet
30 to 40 feet
Over 40 feet
Traditional under 40
Traditional over 40