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International Optimist Regatta - 113 Sailors from 9 Nations

by Carol Bareuther on 21 Jun 2013
The 113 sailors from 9 nations stand together on the deck at the St. Thomas Yacht Club following the Parade of Nations Thursday evening. - International Optimist Regatta Dean Barnes
Over 100 7 to 15 year olds will set sail in the 21st International Optimist Regatta presented by Glacial Energy, June 21 to June 23. This marks the second year in a row that the event has surpassed the 100-mark in participation. What’s more, a record 79 sailors competed in the pre-regatta Sea Star Clinic June 17 to 19 and 13 teams raced in the Sea Star Team Racing Championships on June 20. Increased interest in junior sailing in the Caribbean combined with the event’s prominence worldwide has enabled the regatta to grow into one of the largest junior sailing events in the U.S. Virgin Islands and in the Caribbean.

'The clinic was really good for us Virgin Islands sailors because we don’t usually get to practice with over 50 boats on the start line,' says St. Thomas’ Chris Murphy, one of five members of Team ISV, who will represent the territory this summer at the IODA World Championships in Riva del Garda, Italy.

The Sea Star Clinic, run by top local coaches and international coaches from Optisailors.com, drilled the sailors on starts, tactics, and strategy.

'It was good to get a different point of view or cross-train with the visiting coaches,' says St. Thomas’ Scott McKenzie, also a member of Team ISV, along Murphy, Paige Clarke from St. John, Ryan Hunter from St. Croix, and Teddy Nicolosi from St. Thomas.

Thirteen teams of four sailors each took to the seas off St. Thomas’ east end to compete in the Sea Star Team Racing Championships on June 20. At the conclusion, it was the Pilo 1 Team made up of Mexico’s Henry Saavedra and the USA’s Romain Screve, Matt Logue and Wiley Rogers, which emerged victorious. The team was named in honor of their coach, Esteban ‘Pilo’ Rocha. The Sea Star Perpetual Trophy will be inscribed with the names of these sailors.

Wiley Rogers, in addition to being a winning member of the Sea Star Team Race, is back to defend the regatta championship title he won in 2011.

'I’m planning to go out and try my hardest and see how it all lays out,' says 13-year-old Rogers, from Houston, Texas.

Sea Star Lines has sponsored the Clinic and Team race for sixth consecutive years, says Frank Urban, Caribbean and business development sales manager. 'I have been very fortunate to be a part of the outstanding leadership and vision of the Sea Star Team over the past few years and I hope to share these life lessons with the youths of St. Thomas. We all believe at Sea Star that children are our future and we must give back whenever possible. We hope that through our continued sponsorship we can help them to build a sense of self-confidence, purpose and discipline in a fun and safe environment.'

The 21st International Optimist Regatta presented by Glacial Energy, gets underway Friday. Sailors representing Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and the USA and USVI will compete in this three-day regatta that ends Sunday.

'Glacial Energy is proud to sponsor this year’s International Optimist Regatta,' says Joel Finley, president of sales. 'Through this event and the other amazing events put on by the St. Thomas Yacht Club and VISA, our young people are given the opportunity to race in world class conditions with competitors from all over the globe.' Michael Giery, general counsel adds; 'This event not only prepares young sailors to face amazing competitors, but also gives them the understanding of good sportsmanship and healthy competition. The St. Thomas Yacht Club and VISA continue to produce world class sailors, amazing the international sailing world year after year and Glacial Energy is proud to be a part of the adventure.'

In addition to the hi-caliber racing, shoreside activities included tonight’s Parade of Nations and Welcome Party, as well as a Caribbean-themed night that include fire blowers and finally a beachside barbecue and Awards Ceremony scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday June 23rd.

Trophies will be awarded to the top five finishers in each fleet and top three overall. Additional trophies include the Peter Ives’ Perpetual Trophy, the Chuck Fuller Sportsmanship Award and the Top Female sailor.

The event follows an eco-friendly theme. Sailors are encouraged to recycle all plastic water bottles, use the reusable water bottle in the goodie bag throughout the regatta, keep all lunch bags and wrapping out of the water and pick up any trash on shore and accept drinks without straws.

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 more information and daily results, visit here.

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