Great racing is what the St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) is renowned for. This year, the 45th annual, held only seven months after two Category 5 hurricanes, certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, there were close scores in all classes and tied scores among top competitors in three of five classes going into the third and final day of racing.
“Heading into the last race we knew we had a pretty solid cushion between us and Marco (Teixidor), but even then we were able to turn a terrible start around and fight back to finish the regatta with a win,” explains St. Thomas’ Addison Caproni, who skippered Bill T to a win in the largest and most competitive STIR 2018 class, the one-design IC24s. The Bill T team was assembled by Chris Rosenberg, one of the originators of the IC24 design.
Puerto Rico’s Teixidor aboard Cachondo, a past multi-time podium finisher in this class, entered the regatta’s final day with a two-point lead over Bill T.
“We had an idea who our competition was on entering the event, but it wasn’t until the first race that we fully grasped the level of skill and talent and how we had to sail almost perfect to stay on top. In a one design class, small mistakes can cost you the regatta, and that’s one thing we tried to minimize as a team and were able to execute. Having Chris Rosenberg, Cy Thompson, Eric Cousins, and Sarah Suhich on board was a blessing by being able to trust them and not have to second guess every decision. The credit really goes to the crew as they performed flawlessly under pressure and when we got in some sticky situations, which we did the second day, we were able to get through and live to fight another day,” says Caproni. On being awarded the Omega-brand timepiece prize for the class win, owner Rosenberg magnanimously handed it to Caproni for his skippering skills.
Puerto Rico’s Marco Teixidor aboard Cachondo and Fraito Lugo on Orion, finished second and third in the IC24 class, respectively.
“We sailed well and made no mistakes. I think that was our key to winning,” says Koem De Smedt, tactician aboard Belgian owner Philippe Moortgat’s Swan 45, Samantaga, who led the CSA Spinnaker 1 Class throughout the three-day event.”
In CSA Spinnaker 2, Canada’s Rob Butler’s new Reflex 38, Touch2Play Racing and St. Croix’s Peter Stanton’s Melges 24, Boogaloo, were tied on points. Ultimately Touch2Play emerged victorious by one point.
“This is our third regatta on the new boat and we had pretty well worked out the kinks,” says Butler. “Basically, the winner was down to who won the race today.”
The CSA Non-Spinnaker Class saw St. Thomas’ Lawrence Aqui’s well-sailed Dufour 40, Wild T’ing turn in a solid performance by scoring four firsts in five races.
“We didn’t make mistakes, while the other boats took flyers when they saw us ahead and it ended up costing them,” explains Mike Williams, who called tactics aboard Wild T’ing.
The one-design Hobie Wave class was a STIR first, although beach cats in general have always been represented at this event. St. Thomas’ Bill Bacon and Pierre-James Zani were tied for first going into the final day. In the end, it was St. Thomas’ Kyree Culver who won literally single-handedly and in her first major regatta.
“I was always taught to pay attention to the sails and boat speed and that’s what I did. Plus, John Holmberg gave a clinic the day before the regatta and that really helped,” says Culver, who works at the St. Thomas Sailing Center, which chartered six Hobie Waves for STIR. Another six were brought over from Cruz Bay Watersports, in St. John.
In total, nearly 50 boats ranging from 13- to 70-feet in length raced. Crews represented everything from professional sailors to weekend warriors. Boats hailed from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Antigua, the U.S.A, Canada and Europe.
The 2018 Round the Rocks race was sponsored by Rock City Brewing Company. STIR is sponsored by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism; Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits; Margaritaville St. Thomas; Omega; K3 Waterproof Gear; and The Moorings.
Report by Carol Bareuther. Photography by Dean Barnes.