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USA's Montagu wins 31st International Optimist Regatta

by Carol Bareuther 16 Jun 17:59 PDT June 10-16, 2024
31st International Optimist Regatta - Overall and Red Fleet Winner, Alexander Montagu, USA © Matias Capizzano

Getting good starts, especially in light wind conditions, led the USA's Alexander Montagu to win the 31st International Optimist Regatta (IOR), hosted at the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC), June 14-16, 2024.

Thirteen-year-old Montagu, who races out of both California's San Francisco Yacht Club and Florida's Coral Reef Yacht Club (CRYC), was one of 104 sailors from the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, several USA states, Canada, and Germany that competed in this three-day regatta in 8-foot, single-sail Optimist dinghies where conditions averaged 8- to 12-knots of breeze under sunny skies.

The Winners

The top three sailors overall in the 2024 IOR were Montagu first, Florida's CRYC's Connor Karr second, and Puerto Rico's Club Nautico de San Juan's (CNSJ) Diego Delgado third.

Montagu's first place overall also put him at the top of the 13- to 15-year-old Red Fleet after seven races in the Championship fleet.

"The light wind was a challenge for me, but it helped that I was able to get good starts and then continue to stay ahead," says Montagu, a member of the US Optimist Dinghy Association's National Team, who will also compete at the Optimist North American Championships (OPTINAM) next month in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the Optimist World Championships in December in Mar del Plata, Argentina. "Learning how to deal with the seaweed will help me at the OPTINAMs."

Concentration and a positive mindset proved key to Delgado's win in the 11- to 12-year-old Blue Fleet.

"The mind is the most important thing in sailing. If you get angry because someone beat you in a race, it takes away from your focus on the sailing. I needed to focus my mind, especially in the light wind today," says Delgado, age 12. "This regatta helped me to realize I'm a pretty good sailor. I did qualify to represent Puerto Rico in the OPTINAMs a few months ago but didn't sail well in our qualifier. Now I know I have the potential to do well."

The USVI's St. Thomas Yacht Club's (STYC) Avery Pearsall, also in the Blue Fleet, finished as the IOR's Top Female Sailor, a position that earns Pearsall her name inscribed in the perpetual Founders Trophy.

"I felt confident today in the light wind because I'm small. My goal was top three overall or top female," says Pearsall, 12, who finished 5th overall. "The IOR also gave me good practice on a large start line, and that will help for the OPTINAMs."

Ten-year-old Francisco Don, representing Florida's CRYC, finished first in the age 10- and under White Fleet.

"I tried to get a lot of speed on the starts and then watch the puffs and get as much pressure (wind) as I could," says Don, who sailed the IOR in 2022 and 2023 in the Beginner Green Fleet.

This year's IOR's Green Fleet winner was 11-year-old Levi Hibbs, representing Florida's CRYC.

"I tried to point as high as I could to go as fast as possible," says Hibbs, who started racing less than a year ago. "Good starts were important. My strategy was to start accelerating 7 seconds before the starting horn and then head up to get the most wind."

Additional awards included the Peter Ives' Perpetual Trophy, won by Montagu, and the Chuck Fuller Sportsmanship Perpetual Trophy, earned by the USVI's STYC sailor, Will Zimmerman.

Both Ives and Fuller participated in early IORs at the invitation of STYC's Henry Menin, one of the regatta's founders.

"Pete was a former Long Beach Yacht Club commodore, international judge, and umpire I invited to officiate at the IOR. That first year, we had about 13 boats. I asked Pete what he thought, and he said, 'Henry, you've got a tiger by the tail.' Today, 31 years later, I am so proud of how this event has grown," says Menin,

A Week of Sailing

The 8- to 15-year-old sailors started the week by training in the three-day TOTE Clinic held June 10 to 12. The Clinic concluded 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, and Christopher Fulton, Jr, sailing out of Florida's CRYC, topped the Green Fleet.

Top local and international coaches ran the Clinic. The coaches, in alphabetical order with their affiliations, were Mykel Alonso (CRYC, FL, USA), Nikki Barnes (CRYC, FL, USA), Megan Cassidy (STYC, USVI), Spencer LeGrande (STYC USVI), Joie Paciulli (STYC, USVI), Gonzalo Pollitzer (Club Nautico San Isidro, Argentina), Agustin Resano (STYC, USVI), Manny Resano (JK Sailing, CA, USA), Esteban Rocha (Fort Lauderdale Yacht Club, FL, USA), and Emily Verdioa (STYC, USVI).

The one-day TOTE Team Racing Championships took place on June 13.

Out of over a dozen teams, the winner was Team PUR 1. Team members were Isabel Rivera Fernandez, Julian Rivera Fernandez, Rafael Vazquez, and Lucas Christiansen.

Diana Margarita (PUR) served as the Principal Race Officer for the IOR, while the International Jury included chair Don Makowiecki (BVI), David Pelling (CAN), Bruce Cook (USA), and Mike Chapell (USVI).

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 US Virgin Islands on the face.

The IOR is sponsored by TOTE, the US 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.

Overall Results: (top five in each fleet)


1. Alexander Montagu, SFYC/CRYC, USA (16)
2. Connor Karr, CRYC, USA (28)
3. Isabel Rivera Fernandez, CNSJ, PR (59)
4. Cassady Lorentzen, Balboa YC/BCYC, USA (65)

5. Howard Zimmerman, STYC, USVI (70)


1. Diego Delgado, CNSJ, PR (28T)
2. Wills Gandy, CRYC, USA (28T)
3. Avery Pearsall, STYC, USVI (36)
4. Thomas Weidner, Germany (51)
5. Finn Hodgins, STYC, USVI (58)


1. Francisco Don, CRYC, USA (86)
2. Jonah Watson, US Sailing Center Martin County, USA (104)
3. William Weidner, SPYC, USA (147)
4. Lucas Christiansen, CNSJ, PR (157)
5. Weston Bowie, SPYC, USA (209)


1. Levi Hibbs, CRYC, USA (47)
2. Ivan Riano Jr., CRYC, USA (54)
3. Christopher Fulton Jr., CRYC, USA (64)
4. Kip Hodgins, STYC, USVI (93)
5. Isla Chin, BBYC, USA (127)

About the Sponsors

TOTE. TOTE is a domestic ocean freight carrier headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, which offers freight services for containerized cargo between the US, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. TOTE is the first carrier to operate liquid natural gas (LNG) powered vessels.

US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism. The US Virgin Islands are 1,100 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, USA, in the Eastern Caribbean. Each of the three major islands-St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John-possess a unique character of its own. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of watersports and immerse themselves in the territory's rich culture by enjoying historical tours, culinary encounters, artisan fairs, parades, storytelling, and other special presentations.

The K3 Company: K3 Company is a global manufacturer of premium outdoor gear and accessories, including sustainable, lightweight, and durable dry bags.

Cardow: Coined "The Flag Ship Jeweler of the Virgin Islands" since 1954, Cardow is the trusted shopping source offering the largest selection of fine, high-quality jewelry and timepieces.

MSI Building Supplies. MSI is the largest Pro Lumber Yard in the US and British Islands, supplying contractors with superior building materials for all residential and commercial construction projects.

Lagnappe Interiors. Lagnappe Interiors helps owners of Virgin Islands vacation properties and other coastal locations to remodel and redecorate their homes for maximum return on investment.

CC1 Virgin Islands. CC1 Virgin Islands is a leading Caribbean distributor of Coca-Cola, Beer, Wine, and Spirits. The company is sponsoring the event's Coca-Cola, Dasani Water and Powerade.

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 or Regatta Network, Please also see the International Optimist Regatta on Facebook and Instagram @internationaloptiregatta.

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