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HomeArts-EntertainmentEventsSTIR Marks 50th Anniversary

STIR Marks 50th Anniversary

The St. Thomas International Regatta kicked off Friday with entries from close to 40 boats, with crews hailing from the Caribbean, various parts of the United States and Ireland. This marks the 50th anniversary of the event, which runs through Sunday.

Day one saw participants competing in multiple races within five classes, according to the press release

The racing beauty of the IC24 Class. (Submitted photo by Ingrid Abery.)
The racing beauty of the IC24 Class. (Photo by Ingrid Abery)

In the Caribbean Sailing Association Spinnaker 1 class, the strategy for James Espey, tactician of the U.S.’s Marc McMorris’ M2, was “to not be that guy who made the mistakes.” However, it wasn’t to be, at least not at first, the press release stated.

“The first race we had a gear failure and had to change the sail,” said Espey. In the second race, which was a slightly longer run around natural marks like Dog Rock and Little Saint James, M2 closed the gap on fellow competitors, the U.S.’s Sandra Askew’s Flying Jenny, and the United Kingdom’s Michael Williams’ ShotGunn, the release stated.

M2 rounding a mark on the first day of STIR. (Submitted photo by Dean Barnes)
M2 rounding a mark on the first day of STIR. (Photo by Dean Barnes)

In the last of the trio of races for the day, “we tossed around a couple of game plans. With the winds unusually out of the west, we decided on a pin-end start rather than the rest of the class favoring the committee boat end,” explained Espey.

“That gave us a good start, but what gave us the win was deciding to take down the spinnaker on the reach,” he added. “Everyone else kept their spinnaker up. It was a team decision and paid off at the finish line.”

Racing Recap 

ShotGunn finished the day in first place in CSA Spinnaker Racing 1, just one point ahead of Flying Jenny and three points in front of M2, according to the release.

In CSA 2, the U.S.’s  Donald Nicholson’s J121 Apollo, which won its class in Thursday’s Round the Rocks race, led with a trio of first-place finishes, the release stated.

“We sailed well today and were pleased with our performance,” said Nicholson, from Westin, Mass., who sails with a Corinthian crew that hails from the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada.

Puerto Rico’s Keki Figueroa’s Melges 24, Exodus, was leading CSA 3. In this class, St. John’s Mike Feierabend on his J24, Bravissimo, was one of a handful of STIR boats with a young sailor on board, the release stated.

“We had high schooler Cruz Lonski trimming the jib today. He’s sailed with us for a couple of years since he was in Optis. We have a great class that all corrects out to within a minute on handicap,” said Feierabend of the two Melges 24s and J34 he is competing against.”

In CSA Non-Spinnaker, the U.S.’s Steve Schmidt, on his Santa Cruz 70, Hotel California Too, ends the day one point behind class leader St. Thomas’ Lawrence Aqui aboard his Dufour 40, Wild T’ing, the release stated.

A happy team on Hotel California Too. (Submitted photo by Dean Barnes)
A happy team on Hotel California Too. (Photo by Dean Barnes)

“My boat was built by Bill Lee, whose boats held the record for the Transpacific Yacht Race from California to Hawaii for some 30 years. Unlike those all-out race boats, Hotel California Too is a semi-custom racer-cruiser designed for liveaboard single-handed sailing. We have a mix of St. Croix crew, with Dave Sommer and his son Eric, Stan Joines and Chandra Henderson, and crew from St. Thomas with Michael Connor,” said Schmidt.

The biggest class of STIR 2024 is the One-Design IC24s, a homegrown design where a J/24 hull is fitted with a new Melges 24-style deck mold that is wider, has no traveler, and can carry five sailors, according to the release.

St. Thomas’ Cy Thompson, a two-time Olympic laser sailor, is leading the 15-boat pack after four windward-leeward races in Jersey Bay, off St. Thomas’ south shore, it said.

Skipper John Foster, on left, at the helm of IC24 Desperado. (Submitted photo by Ingrid Abery)
Skipper John Foster, on left, at the helm of IC24 Desperado. (Photo by Ingrid Abery)

For fellow St. Thomas IC24 skipper John Foster, this marks the 50th year he’s competed in STIR, which was called the Rolex Cup Regatta when it started in 1974. Getting hit in a collision in the second race of the day and having the mainsail crash to the deck in the fourth didn’t spell quite the result Foster wanted. However, that didn’t dampen his spirits, according to the release.

“The USVI had just gained Olympic status a few years before, and the BVI and Puerto Rico did too about the same time. That meant that suddenly, we had more Olympic class boats like the Tempest, Solings, Flying Dutchman, and Stars sailing. The talent level was high. Then, when Rolex agreed to sponsor the regatta in 1974, suddenly, we were a magnet for race boats from all over the world,” Foster added.

Schedule of Events

The second day of STIR Racing kicked off at 11 a.m. Saturday. STIR competition follows on Sunday, with an 11 a.m. start and an awards ceremony starting at 5 p.m. Race courses are set off the southeast, northeast, and east end of St. Thomas and in Pillsbury Sound between St. Thomas and St. John. Specific courses for each class are designated daily by the race committee based on weather, the release stated.

For more information can visit the St. Thomas Regatta website,  email manager@stthomasyachtclub.org or Regatta Co-Director Pat Bailey at simpleislandboy51@gmail.com, or call 340-775-6320.

Information can also be found on Facebook, Twitter @stirvi, and Instagram #STIRVI.

For real-time results for STIR, click here.

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