There were several ways to win at the St. Croix Yacht Club’s 23rd International Regatta, held November 14th to 16th. First, keelboat sailors could champion their class in either the one-day Captain Nick’s Race or two-day International Regatta. Secondly, Optimist sailing was back. Thirty-two junior sailors from the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico put their skills to the test in Teague Bay. While trophies and bragging rights are something special, it was the chance for skipper’s to win this regatta’s signature prize – their weight in either rum or Gatorade, depending on age – that put everyone on fast-forward to the finish line.
“Some people couldn’t get off work, so they just raced the two-day weekend regatta. Others used Captain Nick’s Race on Friday as a tune up for the two-day event. We sailed it like a three-day regatta,” says St. Croix’s Chris Stanton, who earned a seat on the scales and seven cases of rum by championing the one-design Rhodes 19 class in his 19ini. “Each morning we went out on the course early, tested the conditions and talked through our strategy. I skippered, Karen McCoy crewed and our third team member was a different junior sailor every day. The real secret to our success is that my brothers, Peter and Scott, readied the boat the weekend before, so it was turn-key to go since I arrived home late Thursday from the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show to sail in the regatta.”
Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Lipuscek, aboard his J/105 Dark Star, topped the CSA Spinnaker Racing Class and also earned his weight in rum.
“Boat preparation and the fact that we have a core crew that has been sailing the boat together for a number of years was the secret to our success,” says Dark Star’s tactician, Rafael ‘Rafi’ Martinez.
Only classes with six or more boats entered were eligible for the spirited prize. This meant the three-boat Non-Spinnaker class was not in contention for the rum. However, winning both the Captain Nick’s Race and International Regatta in this class earned St. Croix’s Stan Joines and his teenage crew aboard his J/36, Paladin, a lot of fun.
“A great boat, great crew and more experience racing led to our success,” says Joines, a music teacher who races his live-aboard home with a combination of students and junior sailors from the St. Croix Yacht Club. “What I enjoyed most, as always, is first the kids on my crew and secondly the chance to see old friends from other yacht clubs again.”
In the Optimists, it was the British Virgin Islands’ Rayne Duff who championed the Advanced Fleet overall as well as scoring a win in the 13- to 15-year old Red Fleet.
“The racing was very tricky because of the shifty conditions and the different wave angles coming from the reef,” says Duff. “It all came down to the tenth and final race. I led by one point going in and Mia (Nicolosi, from St. Thomas) and Lake (Stanford, from St. Croix) were tied in second. We knew whoever won that race out of the three of us would win the regatta. Unfortunately, I was over early at the start. I sailed off to the left away from everyone else, then I tacked over when the right filled in and it put me in first, which I held right to the finish. What I enjoyed most about this regatta was how hard it was to win.”
The St. Croix International Regatta is heralded as a great way for sailors to tune-up after having their boats on the hard during hurricane season and before the start of the busy schedule of Caribbean winter and spring regattas. It’s also known as one of the most enjoyable. Whole families come out to race, there’s a fantastic pig roast on the beach and live music off the Heineken barge all weekend.
For full keelboat results, visit: www.yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=1443. For Optimist results, visit: www.regattanetwork.com/event/10658#_newsroom
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.