Women were making waves at the St. Thomas Yacht Club November 10 to 12 for the second annual St. Thomas Radiology Women’s Sailing Regatta & Tennis Tournament.
“I really liked competing with just women. Guys are much more aggressive,” says St. John’s Mayumi “Mimi” Roller, who won both the single-handed Laser Radial class and double-handed 420 class in the sailing portion of the event. On the courts, it was Silvina Salvo who ruled both in singles and doubles.
Over fifty sailors and tennis players representing St. Thomas and St. Croix, plus the state of New York, competed. The guys were out in force too – as pit crew. It was great to see husbands such as America’s Cup sailor Peter Holmberg, standing-by in a support boat while wife, Denise, and sister-in-law, Diane, sailed as a team together in 420s. Meanwhile, the weather cooperated beautifully with winds averaging 8 to 12 knots and clear skies.
On the seas, 17-year-old Roller easily led the pack. “I haven’t been doing as much laser sailing recently, concentrating on 420s and high school sailing instead,” she says. “But, I’ve been cross training by running cross country.” Roller will travel to Australia in January 2008 for the Laser World Championships in hopes of earning a slot for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
St. Thomas’ Christine Thompson followed Roller in the Laser Radial class with a second place showing. “I haven’t sailed dinghies for awhile,” Thompson says. “I’ve raced more on big boats. But, the tactics are the same, small boat or large. In fact, I used my tactical knowledge to advantage so I didn’t have to hike as hard. My back still hurts, though.”
Thompson and crew also seconded Roller in the 420 class.
“I had a great time, and I learned a lot from Mimi,” says Kate Kiefer, who crewed with Roller.
Jessica Rosenberg, who co-chaired the sailing portion of the event, says, “Everyone had a great time. There was a lot of sailing spirit, plus an event like this gives women a chance to re-connect and share camaraderie.”
This marked the fourth visit of International Judge, Don Makowiecki who traveled to the Virgin Islands from his home in Bellport, Long Island to officiate over this event. “The level of sailing has really increased,” he says. “This is one of the few Caribbean events that really lets women get out to sail and shine.”
Just one day before the start of this regatta, women’s sailing received a huge shot in the arm. On November 9, at the 2007 ISAF Annual Conference held in Estoril, Portugal, the organization selected its ten sailing events for the 2012 Olympic Games—and Women’s keelboat match racing was voted to replace the Tornado.
At the conclusion of this conference, ISAF President Göran Petersson was quoted as saying, “The ten events chosen for the London Games provide a perfect showcase of the wide range and diversity of sailing. I am certain they will form the backbone of a terrific Olympic Sailing Competition in 2012.”
Closer to home, St. Thomas-based International Judge, Ruth Miller, reports another shot in the arm for women’s sailing – especially locally.
“St. Thomas Yacht Club put in a bid to host the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championships in 2009 and it was accepted. There will be a total of 10 teams, and we’ll issue invitations and ask teams to submit resumes, although we are allowed to have a host team from the Virgin Islands.”
The event, tentatively scheduled for November 2009, will be sailed in IC24s. Prior to this, Miller says there’s a plan afoot to host a lesser grade event in 2008 that will be more Caribbean-oriented and help stir interest in women’s match racing.
“Women’s participation in sailing is growing by leaps and bounds at every level of the sport,” says Miller.
1. Mayumi Roller, St. John, USVI (12)
2. Christine Thompson, St. Thomas, USVI (26)
3. Debbie Schreiber, St. Croix, USVI (27)
4. Kara Buckley, Yonkers, NY (45)
5. Jane Murphy (52)
6. Carlyn Wesley, St. Thomas, USVI (52)
1. Elizabeth Anderson, St. Thomas, USVI (13)
2. Joyce McKenzie, St. Thomas, USVI (19)
3. Karen Rice, St. Thomas, USVI (32)
4. Barbara Birt, St. Thomas, USVI (46)
1. Roller/Kiefer, (13)
2. Thompson/Scott, (26)
3. Buckley/Buckley, (34)
4. Schreiber/Sylvester, (36)
5. Hackstaff/McKenzie, (49)
6. Holmberg/Holmberg, (57)
7. Murphy/Rice, (64)
8. Anderson/Birt, (84)