St. Thomas Yacht Club Releases Its 2021 Regatta Schedule

St. Thomas Yacht Club to host three regattas in 2021. (Submitted photo)

Competitive and COVID-safe yacht racing returns in a new normal way to St. Thomas in 2021. The St. Thomas Yacht Club Board of Directors is pleased to announce next year’s dates for two of the Caribbean’s favorite regattas and the second annual of a soon-to-be major international regatta. Specifically, the St. Thomas International Regatta will be held March 26-28; the Thomas Yacht Club Invitational, May 14-16; and the International Optimist Regatta, June 14-20.

“Sailing and yachting play an integral role in our overall tourism product and make a vital contribution to the U.S. Virgin Islands’ economy. Our warm weather, beautiful waters and exceptional marine facilities make us an ideal choice for sailing and yachting. The territory has robust COVID-19 protocols in place, and we commend the St. Thomas Yacht Club for working collaboratively to keep our residents, visitors and competitors safe. We look forward to welcoming the participants of the upcoming regattas in 2021. We also encourage them to safely venture beyond the shores to reconnect with our vibrant culture, delectable cuisine, storied past and beautiful people during their stay in the territory,” said V.I. Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte.

Strategic Planning

Over the last several months as the COVID-19 pandemic led to a cancellation of both the 2020 STIR and the International Optimist Regatta, as well as many major regattas in the Caribbean and around the World, the St. Thomas Yacht Club Board of Directors and its regatta organizers took a strategic look at what sailors want and how to provide it within the territory’s COVID-19 safety protocols, which are designed to assure the well-being of visitors and island residents alike.

“In June, the club held its first St. Thomas Yacht Club Invitational, proving it was possible to run a competitive and COVID-safe regatta. With this success under our belts, plus continuing to work diligently with the V.I. Department of Tourism and the V.I. Department of Health, we are looking forward to hosting our three major regattas in 2021.

“These regattas collectively are deliberately designed to appeal to a wide range of sailors, from round the island fleet racing for racers and cruisers and highly competitive one-design racing to youth racing featuring the Optimist dinghy. That said, we look forward to welcoming sailors to our regattas in 2021 and showing them why ‘We Love It Here!’” said Tony Coffelt, the club’s commodore.

St. Thomas International Regatta – March 26-28, 2021

The three-day STIR is preceded by the one-day Round the Rocks Regatta on March 25, which features a circumnavigation of the 19-square-mile island of St. John.

“As we did at the STYC Invitational, we will incorporate COVID protocols that are easy to implement, make the event safe, and still include the things we love most about Caribbean regattas – great sailing in reliably perfect conditions, opportunities to hang with friends old and new, and enjoy the hospitality of the St. Thomas Yacht Club – all in keeping with the guidelines of the VI Department of Health,” said Dave Franzel, director of the St. Thomas Sailing Center, which is the St. Thomas Yacht Club’s sailing arm, and director of St. Thomas International Regatta 2021.

The St. Thomas International Regatta will feature one-design racing in IC-24s and Hobie Waves as well as big boat racing under the CSA handicap system. Spinnaker, non-spinnaker, and cruising as well as high-performance race boats are all invited to enter. Additional information, including the NOR, will be available when registration opens on Jan. 6, 2021. www.facebook.com/stirvi

A full refund on registration will be available if the regatta is canceled due to the need for a COVID-based shutdown.

Regatta schedule is set for 2021. (Submitted photo)

There are several types of race boats available to charter for St. Thomas International Regatta 2021. These include IC24s and Hobie Waves from the STSC. The UK’s LV Yachting Ltd. is chartering its Pata Negra (Marc Lombard 46), Sailplane 3 (Mat 12), Phan (GP42), Addictive Sailing (a TS5 catamaran) and Escapado (Beneteau First 40.7) for STIR 2021. Perennial podium placer, El Ocaso (J/122) is available from Caribbean Yacht Racing.

OnDeck, based in Antigua, is chartering its Spirit of Juno (Farr 65) by the individual crew spot and Ortac (Beneteau First 40.7) for whole boat race charters. Plus, J-aguar (J/120) can be chartered by the whole boat or individual crew spots from St. Lucia-based Caribbean Races.

STYC Invitational – May 14-16, 2021

The 2020 regatta welcomed 13 IC24 teams representing each of the USVI, as well as the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, USA and Sweden, and eight Hobie Wave sailors from St. Thomas, all competing in compliance with COVID protocols. The 2021 event will take its next turn on the way to becoming a major international regatta with organizers widening the invitational field to teams throughout the Caribbean and World.

“This event will consist primarily of short course college-style racing with three crew per boat and no spinnaker. The beauty of the STYC Invitational is that teams can fly in, jump on a race-ready one-design IC-24 and compete in extremely tight racing. We hope to have up to 20 teams representing yacht clubs from around the Caribbean and the world,” said Franzel, who will direct the 2021 St. Thomas Yacht Club Invitational. www.stthomassailingcenter.com or www.facebook.com/STYCSailingCenter

Invitations will be sent by the first of the year.

International Optimist Regatta – June 14-20, 2021

Sailed in the eight-foot-long, single-sail Optimist dinghy, this regatta welcomes 8- to 15-year-old boys and girls to race. The event, of which the Virgin Islands Sailing Association is the organizing authority, starts with a three-day instructional clinic for both beginner and advanced sailors, June 14-16, is followed by a one-day team race on June 17, and concludes with the three-day International Optimist Regatta, June 18-20.

“Sailors and coaches from the Caribbean, U.S., and countries around the world are invited to attend this premier youth sailing event in the beautiful USVI waters. We are working in cooperation with VISA and the local government to host a fun and exciting COVID safe regatta. Additional information will be posted in near future,” said Emily Zimmerman, the St. Thomas Yacht Club’s vice commodore and director of youth sailing. www.stthomasyachtclub.org/sailing/regattas/international-optimist-regatta  or  www.facebook.com/InternationalOptimistRegatta/

For more information, visit the St. Thomas Yacht Club at www.stthomasyachtclub.org or call 775-6320. For St. Thomas International Regatta and the St. Thomas Yacht Club Invitational or email: [email protected]. For the IOR, email: [email protected]

For more information on COVID-19 protocols for travelers to the U.S. Virgin Islands, visit: www.usvitravelportal.com, www.usviupdate.com and www.covid19usvi.com.