As earth shaking as this pandemic has been, St. Thomas, has felt like the best possible place to be. We have had relatively few cases of infection thanks in large part to early intervention by the local government which is led by a sensible, fact based, intelligent governor with strong boundaries and a good sense of humor.
Pre-covid, we had well developed weekly racing programs in both IC-24s and Hobie Waves as well as sailing courses at all levels, boat access programs, racing clinics, regattas, and custom events for visiting sailors. The whole program was growing nicely, with more students, more boat access members, more racers and more attendees at the clinics and regattas each year.
Then, suddenly, the pandemic changed all that. There were no students, no clinics no regattas. In fact, things were looking pretty grim.
Then something unexpected began to happen.
During the “safer at home” phase we came up with the idea of running double-handed IC-24 races restricted to families and roommates as well as single handed Hobie racing. Our reasoning was that we could still maintain appropriate social distancing and, as we all know, interacting in the open air and breeze is a lot healthier than mixing indoors. These programs became a huge hit. With everyone re-evaluating their priorities (and having more time on their hands) every boat in the fleet has been out racing just about every week!
At the same time, we started promoting the idea of boat access locally – daysailing IC-24s or Hobie Waves as a way for families to spend quality time in the most healthy of environments. This too has led many new people to join the club to take advantage of the opportunity to sail without having to own a boat.
As of now, the USVI is in an “Open Doors” phase, and we are again able to teach courses. And people, deprived of fun for months now, are realizing anew that recreation is important and we are seeing pent up demand from people who are ready to learn to sail.
Things are not yet back to anything we might consider normal and we all know there could easily be more spikes that will result in reinstating restrictions. But right now, things are good.