Get Ready To Set Sail in 38th Annual Around St. John Race Apr. 9

By Jim Furneaux

Larry Boxerman’s “Southbound” prepares to tack near Mary’s Point in the 2006 Around St. John Race. Photo by Jim Furneaux

The 38th annual Around St. John Race, one of the Virgin Island’s oldest and most varied sailboat races takes place Saturday, April 9.

Sponsored by the St. John Yacht Club, the race combines a challenging variety of sailing conditions with the spectacular beauty of a full circumnavigation of the island of St. John.

“No other race that we do offers the full range of challenges for boat, captain and crew as the Around St. John Race,” said Larry Boxerman, owner/skipper of Southbound a 37’ Pearson and a frequent entrant in local races. “If we go clockwise we’ll face lots of tacking up the narrows and then as we round the northeast corner of the island we face cross currents and wind shifts. We need to be on our game.”

The race committee will choose between a clockwise circumnavigation or a counter clockwise circumnavigation depending on conditions on the day of the race. Races will start near Two Brothers rocks off of Cruz Bay.

Generally the prevailing east wind dictates a clockwise course that requires significant tacking as the boats proceed up the narrows of the Sir Francis Drake channel between St. John and the BVIs.

“The frequent tacking in such narrow confines favors the smaller more agile boats,” said SJYC Commodore Scott Barnett. “But that is generally balanced by long reaches in the later stages of the race. The sailors will encounter shifting currents as the round the east end and will deal with wind shifts and currents as they maneuver around Leduck Island.”

Separate categories will be offered for entrants in spinnaker, non-spinnaker and pursuit classes. The grand prize for best adjusted time will be a free haulout for the winner. Budget Marine and the SJYC will also offer gift certificates and trophies for the other top finishers.

The first boat across the line will be awarded the Cees De Graaf Memorial Trophy. Cees was a founding member of SJYC in 1972 and helped organize the first Around St. john Race in 1973.

“Cees and Bob Eaton [the first SJYC Commodore] were out sailing every week and decided to have more fun by creating a race for their friends,” said Jim Swan, a member of the SJYC race committee. “Cees entered his yacht, Firedrill, in every Around St. John Race until his death a few years ago.”

Race registration begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 8, at the Tap Room in Mongoose Junction with the skipper’s meeting there at 6:30 p.m. The after-race party and awards ceremony will take place Saturday at the Banana Deck in Cruz Bay.

“We look forward to a great race and will deal with the challenges the best we can,” said Boxerman. “Our crew loves getting onto the water and looks forward to the camaraderie of race day.”

The SJYC’s next race will be the Commodore’s Cup Regatta, co-sponsored by the CBYC and benefitting the Kids in the Sea program.This event is a major fundraiser for KATS. Call Barnett at 693-8577 for details.