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Season kicks off for boutique fleet of crewed yachts at USVI Charter Yacht Show 2023

by VIPCA 16 Nov 2023 17:06 UTC November 11-14, 2023
The U.S. Virgin Islands is the Caribbean's Premier Maritime Destination, Seasons kicks off for Crewed Charter Yachts © Mango Media

It's no wonder Caribbean Journal named St. Thomas the 'Hottest Yachting Destination in the Caribbean' in 2021.

A full house of over 70 boutique-style charter yachts were displayed at the 2023 USVI Charter Yacht Show, held at Yacht Haven Grande St. Thomas this past weekend. These professionally crewed yachts were open to view to 140 charter yacht brokers hailing from the Caribbean, U.S., and Europe who flew in to get a first-hand look at the fleet for the upcoming season's bookings.

The jam-packed Show's schedule reflected the strength and depth of the broader industry, for example, with the Marine Vendor's Expo. What's more, the U.S. Virgin Islands' rich history and culture were on full display from the grand opening Carnival Parade, where the Caribbean Ritual Dancers, Moko Jumbie stilt walkers, majorettes, and a steel pan band led a procession through the marina, to the St. Thomas Historical Trust seminars and historic walking tour.

The U.S. Virgin Islands, the premier maritime destination in the Caribbean, are blessed with some of the region's most remarkable natural resources. Our coastal waters are adorned with unique beauty, our harbors offer a haven, our fisheries are abundantly rich, and our islands' marine environment is simply unparalleled. As we witness the awe-inspiring transformation of our maritime tourism product, I am steadfast in my commitment to work hand-in-hand with individuals and businesses that share the same passion for promoting and enriching our marine industry," says the Honorable Albert Bryan, Jr., Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A 'Don't Miss' Show - mark your calendar now

The 2024 USVI Charter Yacht Show will take place from November 8-11. Registration information for boats and brokers will be announced at

VIPCA is also excited to launch a new yacht sales show in 2024, the Virgin Islands Boating Expo (VIBE), May 10-12, 2024, where leading charter brokers and yacht manufacturers will take center stage and attendance is open to the public, tickets are on sale at

A Boutique Fleet

The boutique fleet of yachts on show ranged from 42' to over 105', both power and sail, multihulls and monohulls. Each yacht and its bespoke crew combine to provide a customized rather than cookie-cutter vacation experience.

"The importance of the show for us is to see all the boats and crews, especially new ones, so that we can best match them to our clients for the perfect vacation," says Randy Tucker, certified charter yacht broker who, with his wife Shelly, co-owns and operates, based in Franklin, TN.

"I think it's all about having a welcoming personality," says Captain Findlay Mack, who with Chef Cara Whiteman won Best in Class for yachts under 50' aboard the Bali 4.8, Koru. "We also accompany our guests in what we do. For example, we jump in the water to snorkel with them. This gives us a chance to point out sea life like lobster they may never have seen before. One of our overnights is usually in Christmas Cove or Maho Bay, both great areas for sea life."

Emysa, a Leopard 58 crewed by Captain Bastian Tromp and Chef Sarai Ben Ari, earned Best in Class for yachts 51' to 60'.

"We not only offer guests an incredible vacation but also give them an experience to take home with them. That means connecting with them and forming a relationship, not just serving them. As a result, it's a very rewarding industry," says Tromp.

The winner of Best in Class for yachts 61'-plus was Xandros, a Lagoon 65'.

"It's our service orientation. It's getting that right balance of luxury but with a feeling of comfort," says Elizabeth Hight, Stewardess, about the yacht's award. Hight adds, that taking guests ashore to hike in the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John is a highlight of a week's itinerary.

Best Crew went to Captain Josh Ryan and Chef Gustavo Ryan, aboard the 62' Lagoon, Valentina.

"It's all about treating guests like family, introducing them to the island's culture, to different foods, and the water. For example, the look on someone's face when they see a sea turtle for the first time is just incredible and we like to make this happen for them," says Gustavo Ryan.

Boat and crew awards and prizes included stunning Virgin Islands-styled timepieces donated by Cardow Jewelers, a flagship jeweler in the USVI since 1954 and headquartered at the head of Main Street in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. The Pirate and Princess timepieces feature chronographs of all three U.S. Virgin Islands.

"At Cardow, we believe in the magic of the Caribbean and the unique experience offered by the USVI Charter Yacht Industry. Supporting and sponsoring this industry is more than a choice; it's a passion. We want our guests to know that when they step into Cardow, they are not just entering a store; they are entering a world where luxury meets warmth, and where every piece tells a story. We invite all charter yacht visitors to make Cardow a part of their USVI journey, to discover the extraordinary, and to leave with a piece of the Caribbean's timeless charm," says Carolina de Lyrot, marketing director.

Strong season ahead

In the last seven years, the U.S. Virgin Islands' charter yacht industry has proved resilient in the face of challenges such as hurricanes and a global pandemic, grown as an economic force to $88 million annually, and put the U.S. territory on the global map as the Caribbean's premier maritime destination, especially for boutique-style, exquisitely customized crewed yacht charter vacations.

"I'm honored to be a part of such an exceptional event showcasing some of the finest charter yachts and crews in such a unique location. The 2023 USVI Charter Yacht Show was more than just a conventional yacht exhibition. The level of support and camaraderie among our community was unparalleled. The collaboration extended across local government agencies, insurance companies, charter management companies, charter brokers, and marine vendors uniting to feature exquisite charter yachts and orchestrate seminars, local historical tours, and captivating entertainment reflective of the US Virgin Islands' rich culture. The pride in our yachting community was celebrated in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, marking the commencement of a thrilling season of continuing to share our passion for the islands with our esteemed guests," says Peter Pieschel, VIPCA president, and Yacht Brand Specialist for St. Thomas, USVI-based Paradise Yacht Management.

Strong sponsor support

Sponsors of the USVI Charter Yacht Show include the USVI Department of Tourism; Yacht Haven Grande; IGY Marinas; Mango Media; Catamaran Central; the Gowrie Group representing Trawick and Cigna; Grey Goose, distributed by West Indies Company; Veuve Clicquot and Captain Morgan, distributed by Bellows International; VIYA Business Solutions; Cardow Jewelers; Yachtly; Ankor Software; Rockvision; Moe's Fresh Market; The Market; Maho Crew; Offshore Marine; Parts & Power Ltd., distributor of Northern Lights; Island Life Watersports; Seachange; the Charter Yacht Broker Association and Smart Life Farms.

Donated as prizes include Veuve Clicquot champagne, distributed by Bellows International; Moscow Mule Cups and Grey Goose Bags, distributed by West Indies Company; VIYA Link and VIYA MiFi Devices; Maho Crew tumblers, charcuterie boards, Marine Pool tote bags, and gift certificates; Islandlife Watersports water toys and equipment including subwings, paddle boards, ZUP boards, tubes, and watermats; KLR gift cards and cutting boards; Leathermans by Budget Marine; Gifts and vouchers by Funky Chef, Ashburton Cookery School, Red Hook Dive Center and Go Car Rental.

2023 USVI Charter Yacht Show competition winners

Best Yacht in Show - 50' & Under
Winner: Koru, Crew: Findlay Mack, Cara Whiteman
Runner Up: Oceana, Crew: Umberto Genovese, Lindsey Montgomery

Best Yacht in Show - 51'-60'
Winner: Emysa, Crew: Bastian Tromp, Sarai Ben Ari
Runner-Up: Atlas, Crew: Brynn Moultrie, Rosie Jones

Best Yacht in Show - 61' & Over
Winner: Xandros, Crew: Mayon Hight, Elizabeth Hight, Sam Middeke
Runner-Up: The Peddler, Crew: Arnold Heins, Jenna Smit, Mariaan Odendaal, Daniel Cohn

Best Crew in Show
Overall Winner: Josh Ryan, Gustavo Ryan, Yacht: Valentina
Overall Runner-Up: Brynn Moultrie, Rosie Jones, Yacht: Atlas
Best Crew Honorable Mentions:
Keagan Steyn, Olivia Boyd, Yacht: Huntress
Umberto Genovese, Lindsey Montgomery, Yacht: Oceana.
Dustin Bumgardner, Alli Bumgardner, Yacht: La Sirena

Cocktail Mixologist Competition - Grey Goose Vodka - 2023
Winner: Zara Browne, Yacht: Ocelot
Runner Up: Hugh O'Brien, Yacht: Serena

Cocktail Mixologist Competition Captain Morgan Rum - 2023
Winner: Dustin Bumgardner, Yacht: La Sirena
Runner Up: Abby Garner, Yacht: Hulya

Culinary Competition - 2023
Overall Winner: Paula Milovac, Yacht: Barefoot Retreat
1st Place: Sara Hogan, Yacht: Liquid Zen
2nd Place: Belinda Jane Bentley, Yacht: Mystic
3rd Place: Julia Ray, Yacht: Shangri-La

CYBA Designer Water Competition - 2023
1st place Ripple
2nd place The Peddler
3rd place Hülya

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