St Thomas International Regatta Has Full Slate of Boats

The St. Thomas International Regatta kicks off Wednesday with five days of events including world-class racing. It’s the 41st year for the regatta but the first with a change in name and sponsorship.

According to the

St John Source

, after 40 years as the primary sponsor for the event, watchmaker Rolex has reduced its involvement. But regatta organizers say the show will go on, with the V.I. Department of Tourism stepping in as primary sponsor.

“Rolex has been a wonderful partner for 40 years allowing us to put on excellent regattas," director Bill Canfield told the international racing website “Rolex will remain heavily involved with the 2014 regatta but we are in a transition period. It is our promise the event will continue to offer fantastic racing and shore side activities from 2015 onward.”

Rolex's most recent three-year sponsorship contract expires this year. Over the years the luxury watchmaker's involvement in the world of sailing has grown, including sponsorship of the Rolex Yachtsmen and Rolex Yachtswomen of the year awards and huge, high profile events such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in Australia.

Organizers of the St. Thomas International Regatta announced in December that the Department of Tourism would step up its longtime sponsorship support.

“We feel it’s important to both the sailing and marine industries for this regatta to continue, so we decided to increase our support,” said Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty. “The regatta shines a global spotlight on the U.S. Virgin Islands and, at the same time, welcomes hundreds of visitors to the territory.”

More than 1,000 sailors, families and friends attend the St. Thomas regatta annually, according to Tourism. Economic impact data shows attendees spend an average of $250 per day per person in hotels, rental cars, taxis, restaurants, shops, provisions and other expenditures. This adds up to a total of over $1.1 million dollars to the territory’s treasury from this three-day sailing event.

The regatta will be accompanied by the first STIR Golf Tournament, which tees off at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The entry fee is $97 for V.I. residents with their own clubs and $135 for visitors who need clubs. Prizes for the first, second and third place teams will be awarded at the regatta awards ceremony March 30.

After the golf, visitors and residents can quench their thirsts beginning at 5 p.m. at the St. Thomas Yacht Club. The Red Hook Pub Crawl is scheduled to follow from 9 p.m. to midnight. Shuttle service from the STYC starts at 9 p.m.

Sailors and landlubbers alike are invited to the Regatta Welcome Party at the STYC on Thursday. The Ah We Band plays from 7 to 10 p.m. Dinner will available for purchase.

The action shifts to the seas Friday when a fleet of more than 70 yachts from the Caribbean, U.S., Europe, Russia and Australia set sail starting at 11 a.m. for Charlotte Amalie harbor and race day.

Fans can watch from the waterfront as the fleet sails into the harbor and then starts on a second race back to the island’s east end. Back on shore, the Jump-Up Party will take place from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the yacht club. The Becca Darling Band will play from 3 to 6 p.m., with Cool Sessions brass taking over from 7 to 11 p.m.

Racing continues March 29. In the afternoon, there will be music by Sol from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at STYC. Then a new STIR tradition will be launched – with the Captain Morgan Yacht Haven Grande Party from 6:30 to 11 p.m. featuring Spectrum Band on stage and dining and drinking at nearby restaurants and bars.

Sailors launch off the final day of competition March 30 to determine who takes their places on the podium. Music by Full Circle will greet the fleet from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m.

The St. Thomas International Regatta is sponsored by Captain Morgan and Heineken, distributed by Bellows International, Little Switzerland, and the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism.

MARCH 28 UPDATE:  Big winds make for a great start for the Regatta. Details courtesy of the Sailing Scutterbut with a fabulous video.