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St. Thomas Extends its Winning Streak to Six at Premiere Cup

Team St. Thomas reigned supreme and held on to its now sixth year-in-a-row winning streak at the Premiere’s Cup, formerly called the Chief Minister’s Youth Regatta, sailed out of Nanny Cay, Tortola, July 12 and 13.

However it was anything but a cakewalk for the veteran team. Tactician Rian Bareuther, explains, “The first day we got two firsts and a third in the morning. In the new format, those races were only used to determine what teams went into Gold and Silver fleets. So, when the scores really counted in the afternoon races, we ended up making a lot of mistakes – collisions, fouls on mark roundings – and ended up with a couple of protests. One resulted in a DSQ and we ended the day in third.”

At the end of the first day’s races, Team Trinidad & Tobago was in the lead with Team BVI second. 

Regatta organizer, Tom Gerker, finishes the story, “St. Thomas sailed very well on both days, but they didn’t make mistakes on the second day, which is how they won. They settled down and paid attention.”

The St. Thomas team posted three firsts, a third and fourth on the second and final day of racing to beat second place Team Trinidad & Tobago by five points.

A total of nine teams sailed IC24s in this year’s 10th annual regatta. Conditions were perfect. Winds blew 15 to 20 knots. There was less than a foot chop on the seas, and the sky was a cloudless blue.

The sail-off to determine which teams would compete in Gold Fleet and Silver Fleets was new this year.

“This new format enabled the weaker teams to have a shot at walking off with a prize,” says Gerker.

Gold Fleet teams hailed from the BVI, St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. Lucia and Trinidad, while the Silver Fleet was made up of teams from the Cayman Islands, Anguilla, Bequia and Puerto Rico.

In final results, following St. Thomas’ win in Gold Fleet and Trinidad & Tobago second, the BVI finished third, St Lucia fourth and St. Croix fifth. The Cayman Islands won the Silver Fleet, with Anguilla second, Puerto Rico third and Bequia fourth.

“There was much keener competition this year,” says Gerker. “The Premiere’s Cup is the only youth ‘team’ sailing event that I’m aware of in the Caribbean. The idea for the event came from the now defunct Governor’s Cup held in St. Thomas.”  There’s more to this event that just sailing.

“The fellowship aspect is very important and one of the reasons for starting it,” says Gerker. “We want the young men and young women to meet their counterparts from other island nations and establish a dialogue that will hopefully last well into their careers. They are the future political and business leaders. This is a Rotary-sponsored event and one of Rotary’s goals is to promote world peace and understanding. We’re just trying to do our little part.”

The Rotary Club of Tortola has long promoted youth sailing as the initiator of the KATS (Kids and the Sea) BVI program.

The Tent Village – tents for all teams to sleep set up on the grounds of Nanny Cay Marina – added to the fun, says event coordinator, John Lewis. “All participants stayed close together and bonded quickly.”

The event’s name change on this 10th anniversary is in honor of former Chief Minister, the Honorable Ralph T. O’Neal.

“O’Neal was at our first KATS BVI graduation in 1991 and attended every single graduation for many years,” says Gerker. “He sat on our Board of Directors for several rocky years in the early 90s, offering support and encouragement. It was great that he could be here for this year’s Premiere’s Cup which was named in his honor.”

In the future, the Premiere’s Cup will be held every other year event. The next edition will take place in 2010.

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