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Barrows Wins 4th Annual Valentine’s Day Optimist Regatta

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Practice pays. And, it showed on the scoreboard at the 4th annual Valentine’s Day Optimist Regatta, sailed out of the St. Croix Yacht Club on February 10 and 11. While it has been Puerto Ricans who have dominated the leader board at this event since its inception, Virgin Islands sailors dominated the top three slots this year.

“Raul (Rios, from Puerto Rico) was my biggest competition the first day,” said St. Thomas’ Ian Barrows, who won the Overall and 11- to 12-year-old Blue Fleet.

Barrows added, “The first day felt better. You just had to look for the puffs. I finished with a 10-point lead in the fleet. The second day, one side was more favored. It wasn’t as tactical. In the end, Nikki (Barnes, from St. Thomas) was my biggest competition.”

Barnes, who won the 13- to 15-year old Red Fleet and tied Barrows with 35 points, lost the tie-breaker by having only two first place finishes to Barrow’s three.

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Barnes re-caps. “The first day was more fun. It was lighter and shiftier. You had to stay on your toes. The wind was more predictable the second day. It was easier and helped me move up.”

St. Croix’s Billy Gibbons rounded out the top three.

Barrows, Barnes and Gibbons, as well as St. Thomas Alec Tayler and St. John’s Alex Coyle have trained five days a week since May of 2006, plus attended international regattas such as the Peruvian Optimist National Championships and the Optimist Worlds in Uruguay, all as part of their training with Argentinean coach, Agustin “Argy” Resano.

“The kids have worked very hard and made a lot of improvements,” Resano says.

The same team of U.S. Virgin Islands sailors has set their training sights on the Optimist World Championships 2007 in Sardinia, slated for July 22 to August 2.

Twenty-four junior sailors from all three U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the BVI took part in this 13-race regatta, sailed in the protected waters of Teague Bay, off the St. Croix Yacht Club.

While the advance fleet sailors numbered 15, there were 9 in the Green or beginner fleet. This is an excellent sign of growing junior programs in the northern Caribbean and the hopeful start of even more kids making a grand splash on the regional and international sailing scene.

Regatta co-director Jay Bryan summed up the event best when he said: “There was a lot of talent out there on the water this weekend. That bodes well for the future of local sailing.”


1. Ian Barrows, STYC, 35
2. Nikki Barnes, STYC, 35
3. Billy Gibbons, SCYC, 36
4. Raul Rios, PR, 41
5. Jose Nigaglioni, PYFC, 50
6. Fernando Monllor, PYFC, 53
7. Alec Tayler, STYC, 59
8. Alex Coyle, STYC, 64
9. Alejandro Monllor, PYFC, 97
10. DonTae Hodge, BVI, 116
11. Kyle Brego, STYC, 120
12. Mack Bryan, SCYC, 125
13. Nicholas Gartner, STYC, 134
14. Addison Hackstaff, STYC, 147
15. Colin Brego, STYC, 155

1. Nikki Barnes, STYC, 35
2. Billy Gibbons, SCYC, 36
3. Raul Rios, PR, 41
4. Jose Nigaglioni, PYFC, 50
5. Fernando Monllor, PYFC, 53
6. Alex Coyle, STYC, 64
7. DonTae Hodge, BVI, 116

1. Ian Barrows, STYC, 35
2. Alec Tayler, STYC, 59
3. Alejandro Monllor, PYFC, 97
4. Kyle Brego, STYC, 120
5. Nicholas Gartner, STYC, 134

1. Mack Bryan, SCYC, 125
2. Addison Hackstaff, STYC, 147
3. Colin Brego, STYC, 155

1. Patson Saner, SCYC, 16
2. Jonathan Woods, BVI, 26
3. Eric Perez, SCYC, 37
4. Harry Hoffman, SCYC, 38
5. Jason Putley, BVI, 51
6. Casey Bergstrum, SCYC, 56
7. Alexandria Rich, SCYC, 63
8. Conrad Yanez, SCYC, 70
9. Scott McKenzie, STYC, 92

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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