December 14, 2022
By Larry Huibers
Chartering an IC24 at STIR is a fine idea
Like the Bits and Bites commercial, every handful is different. Racing the Caribbean Sailing Association winter series is like that. Based on positive feedback from the Hitchhikers Guide I thought I’d highlight the events based on my experience. Last issue we considered Grenada, RORC 600 and The Heineken in St Maarten.
St Thomas International Regatta (STIR) including the Round the Island race runs March 23 – 26
This regatta brings two unique events blended to maximize participation. The IC 24 fleet is very large with many boats coming from Puerto Rico makes it one of the most challenging fleets in all the Caribbean. Chartering one of these boats for the event ensures a step on/step off ease of great racing.
Big boats head Around the Island
Tactically the Around the Island of St Johns makes it very challenging. Last year we were looking great going up to the east end of St John only to have the shore side of Thatch and Tortola come in hard and then a rainstorm and wind hole took us from hero to zero. We were not alone, and the sponsor’s Cruzan and Presidente’s soften the blow. St Thomas Yacht Club pulls out all the stops and knows their waters to ensure a great racetrack. Weaving through St James Island and all the little rocks as marks has you really start to read water and look to see how skinny of water you dare try. Given this is US land makes it easy for most Americans. Shipping your boat to St Thomas is easy and a normal staging area for boats doing the circuit. Flying into STT is pretty easy and cost friendly with major carriers. Local boats here are well sailed, specifically Blitz earns it name by blitzing most of the fleet. Fox, a TP 52, was also here last year and made for great eye candy to watch how the pro’s do it.
BVI Spring Regatta March 27 – April 2
This is their 50th regatta and I can’t think of any better reason to race on the Francis Drake Channel. Blending 3 stand alone events; race to Scrub, race to Foxy’s and the 3 days of racing out of Nanny Cay makes for a perfect blend of racing, sightseeing and sand in your toe’s cocktails. Last year we hit a top speed on the back side of Norman and again ripping into Jost. Doing 23 knots is now hard wired into my memory. The conditions here make for some of the nicest sailing you’ll ever have. It’s no wonder the charter business is huge. Adding targeted racing makes it even more fun (for some – hopefully you).
This event stages out of Nanny Cay which is very well suited. The race village gives you great food choices from the local restaurants but insider secret, the roast chicken and pizza by the pool is fantastic. Mount Gay makes this event fun in a “hurt your liver” kind of way. Add the best red hats and the wheel of fun enhances the water activities. This event attracts many Europeans especially those from the UK. The McFly team are perpetual winners across the pond and bring their winning ways here by making their J122 go very fast. Don’t loose sight of the locals. Spike, a J111, is very quick and know their way around. A growing fleet of multihulls makes it presence felt. The Gunboats and Fujion as well as various sized Farrier’s have a great foothold on this event, wholly crap they go fast and blow by you like you’re standing still. Like each event there is local flavor making it unique, but for me it was my first Caribbean event and I treat it as homecoming. I hope to be there with Judy and Pam to celebrate the 50th and you should too.
Sailing on the south shore of Lake Ontario, Larry and his wife and daughter have been sailing both one-design starting in their J22 and then transitioning to PHRF with various boats, most recently in Laser28 and Esse 850.
Lucky enough to race with some wonderful boats and greater crews on the Great Lakes, East Coast Southern US and the Caribbean. Currently trying to give back to sailing through volunteering with PHRF LO as current president.