The Antilles School Sailing Team is taking the high school sailing world by storm, proving its members are equally capable when it comes to both team racing and fleet racing.
Team racing prowess proved itself when the Antilles sailors won their third straight district title at the Baker Team Racing Qualifier, held April 8 to 9, at the U.S. Sailing Center of Martin County, Florida. Racing in shifty and variable winds, the team dominated the other competitors with an 8-0 record.
Antilles sailor Nathan Rosenberg was very happy with the team’s performance. "We were by far the best team competing,” Rosenberg said. He noted that intense practices "prepared us for the weird situations" that often develop in team racing. "We just practiced and repeated situations on the course so that we were able to see what was coming."
Antilles skipper Cy Thompson was also pleased with the team’s results. "We nailed our starts. That’s where we won it."
In winning the district event, the team qualifies for the national championship held in Martha’s Vineyard over Memorial Day weekend. The team took second place at the event last year.
"We need better competition and more boat time to prepare for nationals," said Thompson.
Skipper Taylor Canfield added, "It is hard to judge our progress. The teams at nationals will have more boat speed,” he said, speaking of perennial competitors from Tabor Academy and St. Georges, and last year’s winner Point Loma of San Diego, California.
Sailors Rosenberg, Thompson, and Canfield were accompanied by Thomas Barrows, of St. Thomas and Sarah Burks and Mimi Roller of St. John.
Two weeks later, the Antilles Team reached another sailing milestone when team members Thomas Barrows, Cy Thompson, Sarah Burks, Taylor Canfield, and Nathan Rosenberg took the first place title at the South Atlantic district fleet racing championship, held April 22-23 in Charleston, South Carolina. This is the first time in the history of the event that a non-Florida team has won the event.
“The sailors competed in some very difficult conditions. The wind was extremely variable across the course. Tidal and river currents converged in the racing area as well, giving an advantage to teams with local knowledge,” said coach Rob Upson.
After the first day, Antilles was in a tie for first place with the Pine View School of Sarasota, Florida. In third place, Lakewood of St. Petersburg, Florida, was just one point behind.
The second day, the Antilles Team demonstrated that they were indeed the best, finishing 1st, 1st, and 3rd, in the only races of the day held due to light winds. Thomas Barrows and Sarah Burks dominated the first race on Sunday, sailing around the course so quickly that 5 other teams did not make the time limit, finishing more than 10 minutes behind.
In May, the Team headed to Detroit to compete in the High School Fleet Racing National Championships, then later in the month to Martha’s Vineyard for the High School Team Racing National Championships. Virgin Islands sailors have a good likelihood of placing best in the nation at both of these events – a feather in the cap of the school and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Donations to the team’s travel fund may be sent to "Antilles School Sailing Team" c/o Rob Upson 16-1 Frenchman Bay Rd. St. Thomas VI, 00802