Covering the fleet and staying in front proved successful strategies for 15-year-old Romain Screve. Screve won the 21st International Optimist Regatta presented by Glacial Energy and held out of the St. Thomas Yacht Club, U.S. Virgin Islands, from June 21 to 23. At the conclusion of today’s final two races, the San Francisco, California-based sailor lengthened his lead from three points to a very comfortable twenty. That’s quite a feat considering the keen level of competition in the 81-boat Advanced Optimist fleet and wind conditions that ranged from barely breezy to gusty in squalls.
Close competition in the Advanced Optimist Class. Credit: Dean Barnes - International Optimist Regatta
'I had good results and moved into the lead yesterday,' Screve explains. 'Today, I went out there and covered my two closest competitors. I had good starts and good boat speed too.'
The USA’s Romain Screve leads the pack to win the 21st International Optimist Regatta presented by Glacial Energy. Credit: Dean Barnes - International Optimist Regatta
Screve not only won the overall championship, but also the 13- to 15-year-old Red Fleet.
In the 11- to 12-year old Blue Fleet, it was 12-year-old Severin Gramm, from Delray Beach, Florida, who finished first. This is the first time Gramm has sailed in the Virgin Islands.
'The clinic helped me to understand the pattern of winds here and get use to them, and that helped me during the regatta,' Gramm says. 'My overall strategy was to stay consistent, play it safe and don’t do anything risky that would push me deep into the fleet.'
British Virgin Islands 10-year-old, Rayne Duff, won the age 10 and Under White Fleet.
'Hiking out was something I learned to do better in the clinic,' says Duff, who finished second in this division last year. 'Hiking was really important in the regatta because it was windy.'
The trophy for Top Girl was awarded to 14-year-old Paige Clarke, from St. John, USVI. Clarke also finished an impressive eighth overall.
'I felt more confident this year,' says Clarke, who has the experience of a number of continental Optimist championships now under her belt. 'I called every shift and always saw what was coming.'
A record 33 junior sailors competed in the Green or Beginner Fleet this year, which bodes well for the future of the sport. In the end, it was 10-year-old Will Jackson from the Cayman Islands who emerged victorious.
'I like the heavy wind,' says Jackson. 'Today, when the wind dropped mid-morning, I went from going fast to slowish-fast. Still, I had a lot of fun and met a lot of new friends.'
The USVI’s Clarke also won the Pete Ives Award, given for a combination of sailing prowess, sportsmanship, determination and good attitude both on and off the water.
Meanwhile, it was the USA’s Thomas Rice who earned the Chuck Fuller Sportsmanship Award.
Optis leave the beach in front of St. Thomas Yacht Club. Credit: Dean Barnes - International Optimist Regatta
A total of 113 sailors competed in the Advanced Red, Blue and White Fleets and beginner Green Fleet. The Advanced Fleets completed 10 races and the Green Fleet a total of 18 races over the three days of competition. Sailors hailed from 9 nations – Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and the USA and USVI.
The International Optimist Regatta presented by Glacial Energy is organized under authority of the Virgin Islands Sailing Association and it is a Caribbean Sailing Association-sanctioned event.
The week started off with the Sea Star Clinic, run by local coaches and coaches from OptiSailors.com, and included the one-day Sea Star Team Race. The team race was won by the Pilo 1 Team made up of Mexico’s Henry Saavedra and the USA’s Romain Screve, Matt Logue and Wiley Rogers. The team is named for the sailor’s coach, Esteban ‘Pilo’ Rocha.
Major event sponsors include Glacial Energy and Sea Star Lines as well as Gill North America, the exclusive importer and distributor of Gill-brand foul weather gear in North America including Caribbean, the U.S. and Canada.
For full results, visit here.
RESULTS (Top 3)
RED FLEET (31 boats)
1. Romain Screve, USA, 33
2. Wiley Rogers, USA, 53
3. Henry Burnes, USA, 56
BLUE FLEET (36 boats)
1. Severin Gramm, USA, 56
2. Thomas Rice, USA, 78
3. Dylan Ascencios, USA, 132
WHITE FLEET (14 boats)
1. Rayne Duff, BVI, 238
2. Mateo Di Blasi, St. Thomas, USVI, 265
3. Madeleine Rice, USA, 339
GREEN FLEET (33 boats)
1. Will Jackson, CAY, 61
2. Victoria Flatley, St. Thomas, USVI, 74
3. Rider Odom, St. Croix, USVI, 76