The chance to win rum, and lots of it, drew 25 boats from the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to race in the St. Croix Yacht Club’s International Regatta, hosted out of Teague Bay, November 14th –16th. The unique format of this event allowed sailors to compete in the one-day Commodore’s Cup, or two-day International Regatta or both events. But it was the chance to win the skipper’s weight in rum for any and all classes in the International Regatta with seven or more entries that really whetted sailors’ appetites for keen competition.
“The Awards Ceremony was packed with sailors waiting to see who won their weight in rum,” says organizer Karen Stanton. “Governor de Jongh was there to give a short speech and he loved the rum weigh-in. I told him we have done this since the beginning of the regatta 22 years ago, when Mumm’s Champagne was our main sponsor. Of course the crowd was egging him on to get on the scales, but instead it was our two winners – Stan Joines in the CSA Non-Spinnaker and Peter Stanton in the One-Design Rhodes 19.”
Joines, an avid sailor and long-time music teacher, raced with his son and a crew of students, aged 10 to 18 years, from Central High School and Good Hope Country Day School, aboard his J/36 Paladin in both the Commodore’s Cup and International Regatta.
“Light winds of eight to ten knots for the Commodore’s Cup meant we had to loosen up the sails and play the wind oscillations carefully, while watching the current carefully as well,” says Joines. “In the end we won all three of our races.”
The Paladin Team repeated its all-bullet performance in the International Regatta even though the wind continued to build to 18 to 20 knots. This was in spite of having the boats steering break at the first windward mark on the second day. Paladin was temporarily out of control, yet Joines training of his young crew paid off. Some of the students quickly set up the emergency tiller, while the rest played sail trim to steer the boat as best possible.
“We have been practicing three hours a day every Saturday since mid-September. Winning is a great motivation for the kids to keep wanting to practice, because it shows them that we are on the right track. It is a joy to sail with them, to watch their wonder, their excitement, their teamwork, their will to win. Also, the boat is competitive, or their efforts would count for naught. They are eagerly looking forward to the spring regattas!”
Only one point separated Peter Stanton aboard 19ini from missing out on a shot at the rum in the highly competitive one-design Rhodes 19 class.
“We had acquired new sails and it was our first time using them, but there was a malfunction with the jib and we had to deal with that issue every race,” says Stanton. “We figured if our boat speed and pointing wasn’t to par, we better make sure everything else was perfect. In the end, our success is all about preparation and never giving up. Granted the new sails was not great preparation, but I learned my lesson. Knowing that the boat was in great condition, rigged and tuned for the conditions, and having all the gear we needed for the second day really allowed for us to concentrate on sailing and our maneuvers.”
Puerto Rico’s Jaime Torres won the Melges 32 class aboard his Smile and Wave. Although this three-boat class wasn’t eligible for a weighty rum prize, Torres was definitely into the racing for the fun.
“I think it’s a brilliant idea to host an event where sailors can enjoy a competitive one, two or three-day regatta,” Torres says. “Organizers of other small club events may do much better if they adopted this same type of format.”
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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.