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110 young sailors set for 26th International Optimist Regatta at St. Thomas Yacht Club

by Carol Bareuther 12 Jun 10:52 PDT 11-17 June 218
Over 100 sailors from the USVI, BVI, Puerto Rico, USA and Canada are taking part in the TOTE Maritime Clinic © Matis Capizzano / www.capizzano.com

A near-record 110 eight to 15-year-old sailors from five countries will race eight-foot long single-sail Optimist dinghies in the TOTE Maritime Clinic, June 11 to 13, TOTE Maritime Team Race, June 14, and International Optimist Regatta (IOR), presented by Electronic Merchant System (EMS) Virgin Islands, June 15-17.

This trio of events is the largest annual little boat regatta in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean. What makes it unique is the combination of instruction, team and fleet racing all in one week, which includes beginners and advanced sailors alike.

"We're pleased to welcome this number of international sailors, which means another excellent year, great competition and an opportunity for our junior competitors to renew and make new friendships," says Hollis Jenkins, regatta director. "Now in its third decade, we are very proud that several of the past winners and participants of the IOR, presented by EMS Virgin Islands, have gone on to become college All-Americans, and on the world sailing stage, first ranked match racers, one-design class world champions, Olympians and team members of America's Cup campaigns."

One sailor to watch this year is Stephen Baker, from the Lauderdale Yacht Club in Florida, USA. Baker finished third overall in the 2017 IOR, went on to place 4th in the 2017 Optimist World Championships in Thailand last July, and most recently won the Optimist South American Championships in March in Uruguay. Baker will be joined by fellow U.S. National Team members: Peter Foley (Coral Reef Yacht Club, Florida), Thommie Grit (Sarasota Yacht Club, Florida), Ryan Satterberg (Santa Barbara Yacht Club, California) and Tommy Sitzmann (Lauderdale Yacht Club, Florida).

These sailors and the rest of the championship fleet will be up against tough competition from U.S. Virgin Islands sailors. These include St. Thomas' Caroline Sibilly, who won the Pan Pepin International Dinghy Regatta in February in Puerto Rico and placed 32nd in the Gold Fleet at the Optimist South American Championships. Other talented USVI sailors competing in the IOR are St. John's Winn Majette, who won the Silver Fleet at the Optimist South Americans and St. Thomas' Tanner Krygsveld who championed the Optimist class at the BVI Dinghy Championships last month.

The IOR, presented by EMS Virgin Islands, is an excellent training event for USVI sailors who will compete later this summer in the Optimist North American Championships in June in Mexico and the Optimist World Championships in August in Cyprus. The USVI's North American team is Caroline Sibilly, Winn Majette, Tanner Krygsveld, Robbie Richards, Alejo DiBlasi, Milo Miller, Joey Croney and JJ Klempen. Meanwhile, the USVI's Worlds team is Winn Majette, Katherine Majette, Tanner Krygsveld, Milo Miller and JJ Klempen.

The TOTE Maritime Clinic, which starts Monday and is run by top international coaches, drills sailors on starts, tactics, and strategy.

Over a dozen teams are expected for the TOTE Maritime Team Race, on June 14th. Entry fee for this one-day event is $160 per team of 4 sailors. Registration is available only on-site from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 13th.

The IOR, presented by EMS Virgin Islands, is hosted by the Virgin Islands Sailing Association (VISA), sanctioned by the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA), and takes place June 15 to 17.

"We are inspired when our business partners invest in the health, happiness and growth of their communities. EMS Virgin Islands' continued commitment to the island community by presenting the 26th IOR will surely brighten and enrich the lives of many residents as well as the visitors it brings. The hardships that the island has endured over the past year have also impacted the staff at EMS Virgin Islands, but we are determined to help bring the economy and community back," says owner, Cobia Fagan.

A Breakaway Charters boat will be available for spectating. The cost is $80 pp on Friday and Saturday and $40 pp on Sunday. Drinks and snacks provided. For information and reservations, call: (340) 775-1171

Social activities include the Parade of Nations and Welcome Party on June 14 and Father's Day Brunch and Awards Ceremony on June 17.

Trophies will be awarded to the top five sailors 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 Sea Star Perpetual Trophy will be inscribed with the names of the sailors on the winning team racing team. A new Perpetual Trophy, introduced last year, is inscribed with the overall winners from the past 25 years.

New this year, registered sailors can join in the TRIO Sportswear Social Media competition. To enter, all that is needed is to 'like' the TRIO Sportswear Facebook and Instagram pages, then post a selfie photo of the sailor wearing the neck gaiter the company provides in each entry's registration pack along with the environmentally-friendly word's 'Turning the problem into the solution!' The prize is a chance to win a Trashee-brand rash guard of the sailor's choice and Adidas Sailing Smock Jacket valued at $150.

This year's event will follow an eco-friendly theme. Sailors will be 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, pick up any trash on shore and accept drinks without straws.

The IOR is sponsored by EMS Virgin Islands, TOTE Maritime, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, K3 Waterproof Gear and TRIO Sportswear.

For more information, call (340) 513-2234, Email: internationaloptiregatta@gmail.com. Or, for the Notice of Regatta, Registration Form and Results, visit the St. Thomas Yacht Club website or regattanetwork.com

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