Ten youth teams from throughout the Caribbean are expected to set sail in the Premier's Cup International Youth Regatta, set for July 8th to 11th, out of Tortola. The race will be on to see which team, if any, can top St. Thomas' three-year winning streak. Anguilla and the BVI almost did, finishing second and third, respectively, at the 2010 event.
"The unique aspect of this regatta is that it's a team event," says organizer Tom Gerker. "It is harder for young people to work together as a team than as individuals. KATS (Kids and the Sea, a youth seamanship program) is the first time that many of our kids have ever had to work as a team. Working with others is a necessary part of life and so it is an important life lesson. The other emphasis of the regatta is for our youth to get together with their counterparts from other countries to meet and develop friendships."
Teams of six junior sailors each will compete in IC24s donated by the vessel owners and managed by Racing in Paradise. Races will be windward/leeward, with the number of laps to be determined by wind conditions.
"Races take around 20 to 30 minutes each to complete, so we get in lots of races – typically 18 in two days," says Gerker.
Off the water, the fostering of friendships takes place at the 'tent village' erected on the ground of the Nanny Cay Resort & Marina. Two tents per team – and a few extra to house girls if there are one or two girls on a team – are set up a few feet from one another making for a very close 'family' environment.
"We emphasize the fellowship aspect of the event as much as the competitive sailing," says Gerker. "So a team does not have to be extremely proficient to participate. They do need to be able to safely sail a keel boat around the buoys without hitting anyone. Many of our novice teams come without a full understanding of the Racing Rules. So we encourage them to hang back on starts and bear off in tight situations where they are not sure who has Right of Way. Within a few races, they build understanding and confidence. At the end of the day, if the kids have fun, get to meet some new friends and display good sportsmanship, they are winners in everyone's book."
A large catamaran donated by the Moorings will take spectators out during both days of racing.
"Everyone is invited to come out with their families and watch the racing up close," says Gerker.
The Premier's Cup International Youth Regatta is sponsored by KATS BVI in cooperation with the Rotary and Rotaract Clubs of the BVI. For more information, Email: Tom@partsandpower.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.