THE NOT A LOTTA YACHTA REGATTA
Can two Category 5 hurricanes stop a regatta? Not if you’re the hardy sailors from the Coral Bay Yacht Club on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Many lost everything to hurricanes Irma and Maria — except their sense of humor. They held their annual fundraiser as scheduled, this year dubbed the Not a Lotta Yachta Regatta.
At first glance, it looked like any picture-perfect Caribbean Saturday on the water — sunny skies, blue water — but look closely and you’d notice most boats floating in the harbor had no mast or rigging. Dozens more boats were hard aground, in heaps on the shoreline. On this day, though, no one was looking. They were too busy rigging up undamaged Sunfishes and Lasers from the Kids and the Sea sailing program, and piecing together whatever they could find to assemble a few bigger boats that would float.
Fourteen boats “competed,” including several with unproven seaworthiness: Colin Hanson’s Buxom’s Revenge, assembled from scraps of his sunken 80-year-old gaff-rigged wooden ketch; Lori Morelli’s Wizard, with a Herreshoff hull and sails literally plundered from a neighbor off island; and Indigo, a square-rigged catamaran, crafted from a couple of patched-up inflatable dinghies and an old ceiling fan “hooked up to a little 1 kw Honda generator for a little extra thrust,” said Michael Sorjonen, captain of the boat and part owner of her namesake restaurant, which fed the residents of Coral Bay in the days after Hurricane Irma. “It was all salvaged,” Sorjonen said of the boat, “except maybe the fasteners. The crew was salvaged from the storm. They survived it.”
This season’s regatta benefits the sailing community.
“One of the few things we were able to salvage was Audie’s boat. We haven’t got a house, but we’ve got a boat!” said Clare Weaver, who sailed with her 7-year-old son in his tiny Opti. “The community of Coral Bay never gives up.”