Shifty winds varying form 5 to 15 knots out of the east-southeast set the tone for the third annual VI Laser Championships in November. Seas leveled down to one to two feet and the lighter winds created the platform for an intelligent race. Chris Schrieber stated “These conditions are absolutely ideal for me; with the lighter winds, I can out maneuver the younger group with tactics.” Schrieber placed first in the highly competitive Radial Class.
Beecher Higby, the overall winner of the regatta, said “The sailing conditions were ideal for me—the lighter winds really worked to my advantage…and to the advantage of my knees and my back.” Beecher Higby is the highly respected “father of Laser sailing in the VI”, and was able to prove himself once again to all of the youngsters out there. Second place was a consistent battle between St. Croix’s Josh Curtis and Tortola’s James Woods.
The most competitive “place swapping” was going on in the radial fleet, with only 6 points between 1st and 3rd place. During the first eight races Peter Stanton (4th at Sunfish Worlds 2006) had the lead, with Sydney Jones (19th at the Laser Radial Youth Worlds 2006) tied for second place with Chris Schreiber (St. Croix Yacht Club’s former fleet captain.) With the fluctuating winds during Sunday’s racing, Chris Schreiber was able to sail off with first place by one point over Stanton for a surprising 1st in Radials. “Coach Pete” and his “student” Sydney Jones settled for 2nd and 3rd with five points between them.
Sydney Jones was awarded top Female sailor finishing 3rd overall in the Radial Class. Felice Quigley, mother of fellow radial sailor, Morgan Bryan, won the annual sportsmanship award.
The 4.7 fleet was a new addition to the regatta last year. The fleet consisted of two sailors new to laser racing. In fact, both sailors stated that this was their first time sailing in a laser regatta…but it sure didn’t look that way to the spectators. For many of the races both sailors maintained speed and sailed with the rest of the fleet.
Overall the regatta was a great success, drawing sailors from throughout the Virgin Islands for a fun, entertaining and rewarding regatta. Preceding the Regatta was a Laser Racing clinic coached by Ryan E. Minth, a former National Champion and Olympic Class contender. Ryan shared his mastering of the Radial rig with the sailors, along with great boat-handling skill sets for the greener laser sailors. The Jones Maritime facility posed a perfect venue to host the event, complete with V.I.’s own version of Dr. Laser, Rob Jones, on hand to repair all of the day’s breakage.
Missed this year from the “VI Champs” were St. Thomas’s CY Thompson and Thomas Barrows currently sailing stateside on the college circuit, and St. Croix’s Tim Pitts ….we look forward to them sailing in next year’s event, which can do nothing but grow!
Report submitted by VI Laser Association
- Beecher Higby III, St. Croix, USVI
- Josh Curtis, St. Croix, USVI
- James Woods, Tortola, BVI
- Sam Woods, Tortola, BVI
- Chris Schreiber, St. Croix, USVI
- Peter Stanton, St. Croix USVI
- Sydney Jones, St. Croix, USVI
- Jae Tonachel, St. Croix, USVI
- Tyler Rice, St. Thomas, USVI
- Morgan Bryan, St. Croix, USVI
- Max Nickbarg, St. John, USVI
- Felice Quigley, St. Croix, USVI
- Christopher Schreiber, St. Croix, USVI
- 10.Ryan Murphy, St. Croix, USVI
- William Bailey, St. Thomas, USVI
- Dante Hodge, Tortola, BVI