Twenty-two boats with skippers hailing from the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, USA and Sweden are ready to take their start on Saturday, June 27, in the first annual St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC) Invitational Regatta sponsored by Leatherback Brewing Co. and MUTINY Island Vodka.
COVID-19 protective measures such as social-distancing via crew limited to double-handed on IC24s and single-handed on Hobie Waves plus face buffs as required racing attire will be in effect for this two-day event as directed by the USVI Government’s Open Doors phase.
Run out of the Club’s St. Thomas Sailing Center (STSC) in Cowpet Bay, this inaugural regatta celebrates sailing as an ideal socially-distanced sport and the seas surrounding the U.S.V.I. as the best place in the world to race.
Keen Competition in IC24 Class
The 13-boat IC24 Class, a one-design innovated at the STYC and converted from J/24s, packs a lot of talent and competition will be keen.
“We’re looking forward to having the sailing community back together and having some fun,” said Eric Cusin, who got his start sailing Optimist dinghies off his home waters of St. Croix, USVI. He will have his hand on the tiller while crew Peter Nielsen works the foredeck.
The BVI’s Ted Reshetiloff will race with his 17-year-old son, Max, as crew. The regatta will be an extra special occasion since the two recently endured a two month plus COVID-19 separation.
Peter Sernhede, who hails from Sweden, will benefit from local knowledge by racing with St. Thomas’ Cory Brown as crew.
St. Thomas’ Mike Finley, John Foster, Bill McConnell and Chuck Pessler; St. John’s Jarrett Altmin and Jasper Moon; Puerto Rico’s Jaime Balzac and Fraito Lugo; and Dave Franzel from the USA will round out the IC24 class.
Hobies Take to the Waves
Nine sailors will race one-design in 13-foot long two-hull Hobie Waves.
“Just sailing again even with social distancing, that’s what I’m looking forward to,” said St. Thomas’ Joyce Campbell. “This event is the first step in reinventing our sport in the new COVID-19 environment.”
St. Thomas’ Marcus Compton is especially happy to sail a Hobie Wave in competition.
“I didn’t sail the Hobie Wave at first because I figured it performed like a hotel rental boat for visitors. Big mistake. The more I sail it, the more I realize you make the boat do what you want it to. You squeeze performance out of it,” said Compton, a second-generation sailor and avid windsurfer.
The STYC Invitational Regatta will commemorate a perpetual trophy, which will be awarded to the winning teams and is dedicated to Rudy Thomson and Dick Avery for their long-standing contributions to STYC and Olympic racing. They have inspired sailors of all ages.
Learn to Sail
Sailing is not only a great way to socially distance, but a positive activity for mind and body. The STSC offers several instructional programs for adults, from learn to sail to advanced bareboat certification and cruising classes. Classes are taught by highly experienced instructors aboard the Club’s IC24s. Schedules range from a vacation week format for those who wish to fly in and combine visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands along with sailing instruction, to weekend end and late-afternoon classes for those that live locally and need to schedule around employment.
Class registration comes with a 30-day Bluewater Membership, where students to use and enjoy Club facilities and amenities. A $150 Blue Water Boat Access fee enables students to sail IC24s and Hobie Waves throughout their Blue Water Membership. Students who get hooked on sailing can pursue their passion regularly. The STSC hosts several regular activities such as Ladies Hobie Wave Racing every other Thursday, co-ed Hobie Wave Racing every Thursday, double-handed IC24 racing every Friday and more.