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HomeNewsLocal news50th St. Thomas International Regatta: Leads Lengthened, Leads Lost on Day Two

50th St. Thomas International Regatta: Leads Lengthened, Leads Lost on Day Two

Puerto Rico’s Francisco Velez, tactician on Giberto Rivera’s IC24, Urayo, perfectly summed up the challenge on Saturday and the first two days of the 50th St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR).

“Local knowledge usually is a big advantage. But now, with winds out of the West rather than East, something that is very unusual, everybody is lost. We are all finding our way. It levels the playing field,” says Velez of Team Urayo, which sits in 4th in the 15-boat, highly-competitive, one-design IC24 class, according to the press release.

Racing Recap

Urayo was one of nearly 40 boats with crews hailing from the Caribbean, U.S., and Ireland, which competed in one of six classes Saturday, the press release stated.

The USVI’s two-time Olympian, Cy Thompson, continues to lead in the IC24 class on Bill T. After nine races over two days, Thompson lengthened his lead to 22 points over second place PJ’s Magic Coffee Bus, a chartered IC24 driven by New Orlean’s Guy Williams, the release stated.

The USVI’s all- women’s IC24 team on Kate. (Photo by Dean Barnes)

There are two women’s teams sailing in the IC24 Class, a STIR first in this class, and something that matches a move towards greater equality for women in Olympic sailing and the debut of the first Women’s America’s Cup for AC37, which starts in August in Barcelona. The USA’s Lyzz Schwegler’s team on the chartered IC24, Black Pearl, is currently in ninth, while Kate, owned by the USVI’s Sarah Swan, is two points behind in 10th, the release stated. 

“It was super tough and shifty today,” said St. Thomas’ Emily Pearsall, who’s at the helm on Kate. “It was hard to be consistent. One race the left was favored, and the next race the right was favored. Plus, it’s an extremely competitive class.”

Of the team’s STIR entry, Pearsall adds, “Sarah (Swan) likes to promote women’s sailing and put together a team of all women from St. Thomas and St. John. Everybody had an opportunity to switch out and work in every position. On co-ed teams, women are usually in one position.”

Sailing aboard Kate as crew is Nini Champion. Two months ago, Champion and Lisa Rowland rowed as the only female pairs team in the 2023 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge, a 3,000 nm unassisted ocean row from La Gomera, Spain to English Harbour, Antigua. The duo set a new world record of 45 days, all while flying the USVI flag, according to the release.

In CSA Spinnaker Racing 1, the USA’s Sandra Askew’s Cape 31, Flying Jenny, moved into first over Marc Morris’ same-make ShotGunn. However, both teams are tied at 10 points apiece after three races today, it said.

Similarly, in CSA Spinnaker Racing 2, the USA’s Donald Nicholson’s J121 Apollo continued with flawless first-place finishes to pull ahead of second place the USA’s David Hensley on his J42, Trinity IV, by seven points, the release stated.

Melges 24s Team Island Water World and Exodus neck and neck. (Photo by Ingrid Abery)

In CSA Spinnaker Racing 3, the team on Puerto Rico’s Keki Figuero’s Melges 24, Exodus, pulled ahead of fellow Melges 24, Team Island Water World, driven by St. Maarten’s Berit Bus, by six points, the release stated.

“We were consistently ahead today,” said Kyle Fink, 22, from Puerto Rico, whose fellow crew aboard Exodus is father, Greg Fink. “They (Team Island Water World, a father-daughter team of St. Maarten’s Frits and Berit Bus, respectively) point higher, but we are faster. We also have more weight with six crew to their five. Plus, we practiced every other Saturday in Ponce for six months before STIR.”

In CSA Non-Spinnaker, the USVI’s Lawrence Aqui on his Dufour 40, Wild T’ing, also kept his lead and extended it to five points, over the USVI’s Stephen Schmidt on his Santa Cruz 70, Hotel California Too, according to the release.

The One-Design Hobie Wave Class took to the seas today for the first of two days of racing. In addition to IC24s, the St. Thomas Sailing Center, the racing arm of the St. Thomas Yacht Club, also charters Hobie Waves for STIR, it said.

“It’s way more fun. Plus, it was here, rigged and right on the beach,” said the USVI’s Chris Curreri, who has won the IC24 Class in STIR several times and now is at the top of the Hobie Wave scoreboard.”

Returning to race in this class again is the USA’s Mike Compton, who campaigned to represent the USVI in the 2028 Summer Olympics in the Windsurfing Class. Compton sits in third, the release stated.

From left, Tony Sanpere single-handed and Finn Hodgins and Will Zimmerman double-handed in Hobie Wave Class. (Photo by Ingrid Abery)

The Hobie Wave class is user-friendly to everyone from senior sailors like the USA’s Tony Sanpere, who raced Hobie 14s here in the early 1970s, to pre-teen Optimist dinghy sailors, the release stated.

“It’s a mix of learning new stuff every day and being competitive,” said Will Zimmerman, 12, from St. Thomas. He is racing double-handed with fellow islander Finn Hodgins, 11, it said.

STIR 2024 marked the first time 13-year-old USVI sailor Tori Aubain raced in a regatta. Aubain combined her Hobie Wave experience with fellow teen Mila Melbourne’s Opti and 420 knowledge to finish six races today in eighth, the release stated.

“It’s a new experience and I like new experiences,” says Aubain.

The third and final day of STIR racing is on Sunday.

Real-time results for STIR can be found here.


Related Link:

STIR Marks 50th Anniversary





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