Competitive and COVID-safe yacht racing returns in a new normal way to St. Thomas in 2021, with the St. Thomas Yacht Club’s board of directors announcing next year’s dates for three of its major regattas.
The St. Thomas International Regatta will be held March 26-28; the STYC Invitational, which held its first race earlier this year, has been scheduled for May 14-16; and the International Optimist Regatta will be held June 14-20.
Over the last several months as the COVID-19 pandemic led to a cancellation of both the 2020 St. Thomas International Regatta and the International Opti Regatta, as well as many major events in the Caribbean and around the world.
That led the St. Thomas Yacht Club’s board of directors and its regatta organizers to take 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 STYC Invitational, proving it was possible to run a competitive and COVID-safe regatta,” St. Thomas Yacht Club commodore Tony Coffelt said. “With this success under our belts, plus continuing to work diligently with the [V.I. Tourism Department and the V.I. Health Department], we are looking forward to hosting our three major regattas in 2021.”
The St. Thomas International Regatta will open with its traditional “Round the Rocks Regatta,” a 19-mile-long circumnavigation of St. John, on March 25. The three-day STIR will follow.
Additional information will be available when registration opens Jan. 6. A full refund on registration will be available if the regatta is cancelled due to the need for a COVID-based shutdown.
The 2020 STYC Invitational had 13 IC-24 teams representing the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the United States and Sweden, and 8 Hobie Wave sailors from St. Thomas, all competing in compliance with COVID protocols set out at the time by the USVI government.
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 the world.
Sailed in the 8-foot long, single-sail Optimist dinghy for boys and girls ages 8-15, the International Opti Regatta starts with a three-day instructional clinic for both beginner and advanced sailors on June 14-16, followed by a one-day team race on June 17, and concludes with the three-day IOR.