Wind was the word in St. Thomas
Published on March 27th, 2016
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands (March 27, 2016) – The real story of the 43rd St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR) was wind. Lots of it. Gusts blustered over 30 knots all three days with 6 to 8 foot seas. Yet combine these conditions with 80-degree weather, bright sun and bathwater warm turquoise seas and it’s a recipe that racers on the 67 entered boats relished.
Chief among these happy sailors was 2015 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, Steve Benjamin. Benjamin’s TP 52, Spookie, not only won the tune-up Round the Rocks Race on Thursday, but didn’t break from his bullet only streak in the CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association) Spinnaker Racing I Class during the three days of the STIR.
“The second race today in north Pillsbury Sound today was extraordinary,” says Benjamin, from Norwalk, CT. “It was a challenge from the crew in the strong wing, shifts, waves and currents that thoroughly tested us. Overall, we had a marvelous experience and highly recommend this regatta to everyone.”
This year marked the first STIR welcomed two new classes. Gunboats and VX Ones.
Stephen Cucchiaro’s Flow, a Gunboat 60, started out slow on the scoreboard when a breakdown caused the team not to finish the first race to the Charlotte Amalie harbor nor start the second back to the host St. Thomas Yacht Club in Cowpet Bay. The Flow team came back to win every race thereafter as well as the Gunboat Class.
“The last beat to windward today on the north side of St. John we were flying over the flat water in 22 knots of breeze. It was pretty incredible. Other than that, we were pushing it pretty hard in the big winds this weekend and punching through the waves. Definitely fun,” says veteran international multihull sailor, Cam Lewis, who crewed for the Boston, MA-based Cucchiaro.
It was a test of the class rules in the VX One Class. Class rules for regattas call for no starts when the median wind speed exceeds 22 knots. Class vice-president and St. Croix native, Tim Pitts, called for an increase in that limit to 27 knots. As a result, the class raced all three days.
“We’re maturing as a class and although anything over 25 knots is challenging, the skill level is there to handle it,” says Pitts, who now lives in Newport, RI, and his responsible bringing the VX One Class to the Virgin Islands. “On the other hand, it’s kind of ironic to invite your friends down and beat them in my own backyard. Still, although I’ve been on several STIR winning boats, this is the first time it was my boat that won.”
In other classes, it was the Southern California team aboard Doug Baker’s J/122, Team Magnitude-El Ocaso, that won the CSA Spinnaker Racing 2. In CSA Spinnaker Racing 3, Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Lipuscek on his J/105, Dark Star, successfully defended their title. The CSA Non-Spinnaker saw Jack Desmond’s Swan 48, Affinity, in the winner’s circle. The home-grown one-design IC24 class welcomed the crafts creator, St. Thomas’ Chris Rosenberg’s aboard Bill T to the top of the fleet. Finally, one two of eight beach cats braved the regatta’s big winds. California’s America’s Cup sailor, Annie Gardner, and husband Eric Witte won onboard the Nacra 17 Flight Risk.
Report by Event Media