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Flying Jenny & Apollo win classes in Round the Rocks Race - 50th STIR kicks off Friday

by Carol Bareuther 29 Mar 02:27 UTC March 29-31, 2024
Flying Jenny and ShotGunn at the start of the Round the Rocks race © Dean Barnes

The scenic U.S. Virgin Island of St. John proved the focal point of today's Round the Rocks race.

This one-day tune-up for the main event 50th Anniversary St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR), which kicks off tomorrow, featured a course that circumnavigated the 19-square-mile island counterclockwise. Eleven boats in four classes enjoyed a downwind start at 11 a.m., under partly cloudy skies with winds 10 to 15 knots blowing unusually from the West Northwest.

The CSA Spinnaker 1 Class saw one-design racing with two Cape 31s. Both vessels, the USA's Sandra Askew's Flying Jenny, and the UK's Michael Wilson's ShotGunn started neck and neck, and finished less than one minute apart, with Flying Jenny the winner.

"My wife usually drives, but I was at the helm today," says David Askew, who is more often driving his TP52, Wizard, where he recently enjoyed a podium finish third place in the IRC class in the RORC Caribbean 600.

"We stayed further offshore, and they (ShotGunn) were closer to shore. There was an area of no breeze between us. That said, we really couldn't see each other and sailed our own race," says Askew, who hails from Key Biscayne, FL.

The USA's Donald Nicholson, on his J121, Apollo, first sailed the Round the Rocks race in 2018. Back for the second time this year, he and his crew topped the CSA Spinnaker 2 Class.

"We were keeping an eye on the Cape 31s ahead of us and staying further offshore for breeze on the downwind leg. We just brought the boat down and got a practice day in on Wednesday, the first we've sailed together since November. But there's nothing like sailing in a race to get the boat handling down and hone our skills for regattas in the BVI and Antigua later this spring," says Nicholson, from Westin, MA.

In CSA Spinnaker 3, it was the USA's David Hensley on Trinity IV, a J42, that bested the class with his crew all from Tennessee.

"I raced on this boat last year as crew. This was the first time I was at the helm. The downwind start was tricky with the wind direction, but the race was a lot of fun. It's the first time we've sailed together, and we had no major problems. It was a good tune-up for the start of the regatta tomorrow," says Hensley, from Hixon, TN.

In the Large Multihull Class, the winner was the USA's Ron Bohem's Perry Antrim 52, Little Wing.

"We worked on setting the spinnaker with the top-down furler, then had to shift to a spinnaker stock, and lost about a mile in time. Even so, we had several sailors who were in the Caribbean sailing with us for the first time. We like to bring people who haven't sailed here, knowing they'll have a great time and be back," says Bohem, from Santa Barbara, CA.

Schedule of events

STIR Racing kicks off for an 11 a.m. start on Friday, March 29, for the first day of STIR racing. for the Round the Rocks Race. STIR competition follows Saturday and Sunday, with an 11 a.m. start each day. Race courses will be set off the southeast, northeast, and east end of St. Thomas and in Pillsbury Sound between St. Thomas and St. John, with specific courses for each class designated daily by the Race Committee based on weather.

Real-time results for the Round the Rocks race are posted here, while STIR results will be posted here.

Strong Sponsor Support

STIR organizers thank the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism; The Moorings; Milagro Tequila, Bacardi Rum, Stoli Vodka, and Leatherback Brewing, distributed by the West Indies Company; Cardow Jewelers, K3, and Ocean Surfari for their strong sponsor support.

STIR 2024 is a Sailors for the Sea Clean Regatta, with green initiatives such as paperless event management and a water refill station.

For more information, visit www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com, Email: or Regatta Co-Director Pat Bailey at , or call (340) 775-6320. Check STIR out on Facebook, Twitter @stirvi, and Instagram #STIRVI

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