Our Team

st. thomas sailing center

Bobby Brooks

Bobby Brooks

Director

Bobby Brooks took over the helm of the St. Thomas Sailing Center in the fall of 2022. Watching the Sailing Center grow over the previous six years as a coach during the annual North U Performance Race Weeks at STYC, he liked what he saw. In the summer of 2022, he further tested our wind and waters as instructor for the VIPCA Marine Apprenticeship program and leading a corporate regatta for the Ashford Group at the Ritz-Carlton. Reinforcing his view that our sailing conditions and venue are superb, he accepted the directorship!

Bobby brings 40 plus years of professional sailing experience including instruction at all levels, race coaching, team building, sailing event planning, and sailing school management–we’re as thrilled to have him here as he is to be here! Bobby began sailing at Santa Barbara Yacht Club’s Youth Program at age seven and later went on to direct that program. In addition to racing on a professional level, he has worked for J World as a US Sailing Certified Performance Sailing Instructor, the North Sails San Diego One-Design loft, as a coach for North U, a sailing director for the Austin Yacht Club, and as a private coach for multiple racing teams.

In the 2010’s, Bobby was Director of Operations for the renowned Offshore Sailing School. At Offshore, he honed his team building skills conducting events and seminars for corporations including Jet Blue, Ford, JP Morgan Chase, BTG, Emory School of Business, Hiscox and others. Over the years, he has led multiple international seminars in Canada and Mexico and on boats ranging from  J24’s and Flying Tigers to 12 meters.

As a professional racer, Bobby has been successful both offshore and inshore, with top offshore finishes in Newport to Ensenada, Transpac, Pac Cup, Coastal Cup, and San Diego to Puerto Vallarta races.  His one-design racing accomplishments include a World Championship in the Mumm30 class; North American Championships in the Mumm30, Melges24, J24, J80, and J35 classes, and several national championships. He also enjoys cruising, and has explored waters throughout Mexico and from California to New Zealand.

Dave Franzel

Dave Franzel

Founder, Coach

Dave Franzel thought he was “retired” when he sold the Boston Sailing Center, a business he owned and operated for 30 years and one of the largest and most successful sailing schools/sailing clubs in the US, until he was enticed by Chris Rosenberg and the amazing sailing opportunities of STYC to create the St. Thomas Sailing Center. After guiding the Sailing Center through hurricanes and a pandemic, Dave continues to ensure its success through mentoring staff.

Dave has been a professional racer and sailing coach for over 40 years. He campaigned Solings and Sonars for many years, finishing third in a Soling World Championship in 2002 and winning a Worlds in the Sonar class in 2009. He has been actively campaigning a J/70 since 2013. In addition to coaching at STSC, Dave coaches at Pro-Am events like Nantucket Race Week  and conducts clinics and seminars in conjunction with North U.

Dave is also the author of the widely acclaimed beginning sailing text: Sailing, The Basics, now updated for the Caribbean, and used at STSC for our Learn to Sail course.

Chris Rosenberg

Chris Rosenberg

STYC Vice Commodore, Visionary

Chris Rosenberg is known for coming up with good ideas and more impressively, bringing them to life. While he conceived the idea of the St. Thomas Sailing Center in 2016, you might say that it all started back in 2000 when Chris collaborated with fellow STYC member Morgan Avery to create the IC-24 by modifying a J 24. The IC-24, with it’s open and comfortable cockpit and performance rig and hull is a big improvement on the J 24 and is now one of the most successful one-design classes in the Caribbean. 

With the IC-24 fleet established, Chris began thinking about STYC’s next big thing. Wanting to see club racing continue to grow, to provide more non-racing sailing opportunities for club members, and to share the excellence of the club as an international sailing venue, Chris ran with the idea for the St. Thomas Sailing Center and recruited sailing center expert Dave Franzel to build it.

As Vice Commodore, Chris continues to guide the Sailing Center. You’ll find Chris racing regularly in the club IC-24 series and coaching club sailing events. At the St. Thomas International Regatta, you’ll likely see him on the podium.

Spencer LeGrande

Spencer LeGrande

Lead Sailing Instructor

Spencer started sailing and racing Optis in Miami, Florida at eight years old and then later moved to Austin, Texas where he continued. He moved to the Laser class and raced the local Texas circuit and the national circuit. Spencer started coaching sailing five years ago at the Austin Yacht Club and then became their Youth Sailing Director. In 2022, he started working at Outbound Sailing School as an American Sailing instructor. Spencer was even selected as one of American Sailing’s Outstanding Instructors of the Year for 2022. Spencer loves to teach and share the sport of sailing with anyone who wants to get out on the water. When he isn’t teaching, he is trying to get out on the race course on any boat he can get his hands on!

Bruno Paciulli

Bruno Paciulli

Lead Sailing Instructor

Bruno started sailing as a teen and fell in love with it immediately, knowing it would be part of his future in many ways. He began sailing on  Chesapeake Bay and later in New Hampshire and Maine. His sailing escapades vary widely: from Halifax to Bermuda to the Caribbean, from Lasers to Elliot 6Ms, from 6.5 to 70 foot vessels. In winters he actually enjoys sailing his 6.5′ Cape Cod Frosty in New Hampshire! Bruno is US Sailing certified as a Small Boat Level 1, 2 and 3 Instructor and Basic Keelboat, Basic Cruising, Cruising, and Coastal Navigation Instructor.  Bruno also holds a USCG captain’s license and has a degree in Yacht Design. However, Bruno may be most famous on-island for orchestrating fun and adventurous sailing excursions with a group of STSC sailors known as the Thunderbolts.

Bruno enjoys teaching sailing and feels he is able to show and share the infinite possibilities that sailing has to offer. He has been a key member of the St. Thomas Sailing Center team since 2018. You can find Bruno teaching courses from Intro to Hobie to the Cruising Course and Bareboat Certification Program.

Emily Verdoia

Emily Verdoia

Office Manager, Youth Sailing Lead Instructor

Emily is the new Sailing Center Office Manager and Youth Sailing Lead Instructor. She is originally from San Francisco, where she learned to sail small dinghies and bigger keelboats. While in San Francisco, she worked in the Race Office at the St. Francis Yacht Club helping put on all kinds of racing from Wednesday night series to high level international regattas. Emily attended the University of Texas at Austin to study environmental science and sailed on their sailing team. While in school, she coached various levels of Opti sailing at the Austin Yacht Club. She moved through their ranks and eventually became their Youth Sailing Director after graduating. Emily’s passion for her work comes from wanting to keep all sailors engaged and excited about sailing and helping new sailors get into the sport! If Emily isn’t in the office, she’s probably on the water or in the water enjoying her new life in the Caribbean!

Kasheem Sexious

Kasheem Sexious

Maintenance Assistant, Sailing Instructor

Kasheem was born and raised on St. Thomas and is a graduate of the Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association’s Marine Apprenticeship program. He came on board as STSC staff in 2022 and stays busy with all things sailboats, from fiberglass repair, to rigging, towing, and yes, sailing! After a solid work day, or days, in the boat yard, Kasheem is satisfied to see a sleek and shiny hull.

Having mastered the Hobie Waves, Kasheem is also an instructor for the IGY Marinas’ VI Youth Sailing Program.

Kasheem plans to be a charter boat captain and intends to sail to Africa, circumnavigate the continent, and explore the Middle East, Israel, Egypt, and Ethiopa.

Kyrre Culver

Kyrre Culver

Sailing Instructor

Kyrre took up sailing in her mid 30’s because it was way more fun than golf. After taking the Learn to Sail course at Boston Sailing Center, she was hooked and went on to race Solings and J-24’s at the club level. Of course, once you learn how to race, the offers to crew come rolling in and next she was racing on a variety of boats throughout New England.

When the chance to live and work in the Caribbean came up, she took it, and began working for the Sailing Center in 2017. She has since become enamored Hobie Wave racing, even taking home a trophy (once) in the St. Thomas International Regatta. If she’s not in the office, she’s probably out on the water, either teaching on a Hobie Wave or sailing just for the joy of it.

Joie Paciulli

Joie Paciulli

Sailing Instructor, Junior Sailing Instructor

Joie believes that if you live on an island, sailing is absolutely what you should be doing and she brings this passion to teaching the VI’s youth how to sail. Just like many of her students, Joie started sailing at age 5 in Turnabouts and Optis. She got into racing and spent a few years racing with team FAST in the sailing capital of Newport, Rhode Island and then ventured west to race 420’s in Park City, Utah and then on to the Junior Olympics. This past year she joined a Cape 31 team to race in STIR. In addition to sailing and teaching she is working on a dual degree in non-profit leadership and psychology at the University of Southern Maine, conveniently located online in St. Thomas!

Joie is famous for running the STYC Sailing Summer Camp and for planning fabulous events for the club.

Michael Connor

Michael Connor

Sailing Instructor

Michael Connor is a lifelong sailor who moved to St. Thomas from Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands after living in South Africa and Chile, among other exotic locations. He has delivered boats on the West Coast, to and from New England, as well as down island. He has also raced in numerous Virgin Islands regattas as well as San Francisco Bay and offshore waters for more than 30 years.

Michael became a US Sailing Certified Instructor in Basic Keelboat, Basic Cruising, Coastal Navigation and Bareboat Cruising in 1998 and taught at Olympic Circle Sailing Club in San Francisco Bay for many years. Michael has been a part-time sailing instructor at St. Thomas Sailing Center since 2017.