International Regatta’s First Day Brings Razor-Thin Racing

Close racing in IC24s on the first day of racing. (Photo by Dean Barnes)

Day one of the second annual St. Thomas Yacht Club Invitational Regatta ended with two identical boats with a razor-thin margin that saw the USA team edging a crew from the U.S. Virgin Islands in a tie-breaker.

The regatta employs one-design racing, in which all sailboats are the same, making it easy to see who the leader is. That is, the first boat over the finish line wins, according to the organizers. No handicap calculations are needed.

Yet on Friday’s first day of racing, the contests between the eight teams representing the USVI, USA and Sweden aboard club-owned IC24s were so close – by a bow length or less, that it made for seat-of-the-pants spectating and world-class competition. With this caliber of racing, it’s easy to see how this new event will soon grow to attract even more of the planet’s top sailors, according to the news release from the yacht club.

“It was a close day with us and Dave (Franzel),” said the USVI’s two-time Olympic sailor, Cy Thompson, who with Addison Caproni at the helm and Eric Anaclerio on bow tied in points with the USA’s Franzel’s team. Thompson and crew, however, finished second on the scoreboard in a tiebreaker when Franzel’s team won the last of the day’s six races.

“In that last race, it all came down to sailing through Current Cut. The trick was whether to sail through and try to get away from the land and get pressure. Or, to sail close to the shore out of the current and hope the pressure fills in.”

This year’s race format features a series of short sprint-style windward-leeward courses followed by a final round-the-island type course off the east end of St. Thomas. The 10 to 12-knot winds out of the ESE proved perfect conditions for these courses, the news release said.

“It’s a great break from the windward-leeward racing,” said the USVI’s John Foster, about the day’s last race. Foster sailed with Chuck Pessler and Lawrence Aqui as crew.

Also new to the event this year was having teams rotate among the boats after every two races.

Dave Franzel, middle, and team finished the day in first place. (Photo by Dean Barnes)

“The advantages were that some boats had their main and jibs set up better than others. The challenge was that we had to adjust the sails to the way we wanted them when we changed boats. Overall, it was a great day, with good racing and lots of fun, competition and camaraderie,” Foster said.

While most teams experienced smooth sailing, albeit, for competitors close behind, one crew member had a little extra so-called fun.

“I got to go for a swim when I least expected it,” said the USA’s Dennis Nixon, who crewed with Kyle Waldner with Team Sweden’s Peter Sernhede. “In the fifth race, we rounded the windward mark, hit another boat and had to take a penalty turn. We went into the turn too soon after the mark and there I was hanging out holding the jib one minute and, in the sea, the next.”

Nixon grabbed the boat’s rudder, climbed up the swim ladder and the team finished the race.

“We worked out the rough spots today and tomorrow we plan to move up the ladder – the scoreboard ladder, that is,” said Nixon.

Racing continues Saturday with six races planned. The first start is 11 a.m.

The 2021 STYC Invitational Regatta is sponsored by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism and Michelob Ultra, Stoli, Milagro, and Bacardi Rum, distributed by the West Indies Company.

Results are online at the Yachtscoring website.

More information about the STYC Invitational Regatta is available by calling 340-690-3681, or online.

1. USA, David Franzel: 11
2. USVI, Cy Thompson: 11
3. USVI, Mike Finley: 21
4. SWE, Peter Sernhede: 30
5. USVI, Steven Rollo: 32
6. USVI, John Foster: 34
7. USVI, Mike Williams: 36
8. USVI, William McConnell: 39