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31st International Optimist Regatta 2024 TOTE Team Racing Championships

by Carol Bareuther 13 Jun 22:24 PDT June 10-16, 2024
31st International Optimist Regatta - PUR 1 Team Race Winners (l-r) Lucas Christiansen, Rafael Vazquez, Isabel Rivera Fernandez, Julian Rivera Fernandez © Matias Capizzano

Good starts, covering competitors, and scoring a first-second-third combo finish proved a successful strategy for PUR 1, representing the Sailing Academy at Puerto Rico's Club Nautico de San Juan, to win Thursday's TOTE Team Racing Championship.

The Championship is one of a trio of events sailed out of the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC) this week. The three-day TOTE Clinic preceded it and will be followed by the 31st International Optimist Regatta (IOR), Friday through Sunday.

Over a dozen teams of four sailors each participated in the TOTE Team Racing Championship. In the end, winning the first two races, Team PUR 1 beat SPYC (St. Petersburg Yacht Club) in a best-of-three contest. Team PUR 1 sailors were Isabel Rivera Fernandez, Julian Rivera Fernandez, Rafael Vazquez, and Lucas Christiansen.

"Making sure it was my team members who finished first, second, and third," says Isabel Rivera Fernandez, 15, about her strategy as team captain to win. "This was important to me because it was my last team race. I will compete in the 420 World Championships in Lake Garda this summer instead of the Optimist North American Championships at home in Puerto Rico."

Rivera Fernandez's brother, Julian, 13, says his goal in the TOTE Team Race was "good starts and being one of the top 3 finishers."

"Covering the top sailor on the other team and making sure they didn't have as much wind to be fast" was the tactic Vazquez, 12, employed to add to the team's success.

Christiansen, 9, the youngest member of Team PUR 1, was excited to be selected for the team race. "I was pumped, and when I got on the water, I felt comfortable and could do well."

One-hundred-and-four 8- to 15-year-old sailors representing the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, several U.S.A. states, Canada, and Germany started the week by training in the three-day TOTE Clinic held June 10 to 12. Top local and international coaches ran the clinic.

The clinic ended Wednesday with a Volvo Ocean-style race, where sailors completed four legs around the east end of St. Thomas and its offshore islands. Alexander Montagu, representing California's San Francisco Yacht Club, won the Volvo in the Championship Fleet.

"I really enjoyed competing in the Volvo Ocean race yesterday. Conditions were challenging and a little different to what I'm used to, so the clinic was a great way for me to adapt my skills in preparation for a very competitive race," says Montagu.

Christopher Fulton, Jr, sailing out of Florida's Coral Reef Yacht Club, topped the Green Fleet in the Volvo race.

"I felt confident, had good starts, and liked the heavy wind," says Fulton, who won two legs of the race and finished second in the other two. "Learning how to read the current and the wind shadow from the island were things I learned in the clinic that helped me win the Volvo."

The 31st IOR gets under way on Friday. The 104 junior sailors are represented by both Championship and Beginner fleets. The Championship fleet is divided into age groups: White (age 10 and under), Blue (ages 11 and 12), and Red (ages 13 to 15). Depending on the weather, the race committee plans to run 10-plus races over the next three days.

The Awards Ceremony takes place on Sunday at 3 p.m. at STYC. Trophies will be awarded to the top five sailors in each fleet: Red (ages 13-15), Blue (ages 11-12), White (ages 10 and under), Green (beginners), and the top three sailors overall by score. A Perpetual Trophy, introduced in 2017, is inscribed with the overall winner's name from the past 29 years. Additional trophies include the Peter Ives' Perpetual Trophy, the Chuck Fuller Sportsmanship Award, and the perpetual Founders Trophy, awarded to the Top Female Sailor.

Strong Sponsor Support

Winners in the Red (ages 13-15), Blue (ages 11-12), and White (age 10 and under) fleets will receive signature Virgin Islands'-styled Lite Up Watches from Cardow Jewelers, each in coordinated Red, Blue, and White colors. Perfect for junior sailors, the kid-favorite timepieces are water-resistant and feature a silicon band, flashlight, light-up feature, and an outline of all three U.S. Virgin Islands on the face.

The IOR is sponsored by TOTE, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, The K3 Company, Cardow, MSI Building Supplies, Lagnappe Interiors, and CC1 Virgin Islands.

This year's event will follow an eco-friendly theme. Sailors will be encouraged to recycle all plastic water bottles, keep all lunch bags and wrapping out of the water, pick up trash on shore, and accept drinks without straws.

For more information, Email: or call (340) 775-6320. Or, for the Notice of Regatta (NOR), Registration Form, and other information, visit the St. Thomas Yacht Club website at stthomasyachtclub.org/sailing/regattas/international-optimist-regatta or Regatta Network, www.regattanetwork.com/event/25798. Please also see the International Optimist Regatta on Facebook and Instagram @internationaloptiregatta.

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