Shifting strategies to match wind speed and direction, staying out in front of the fleet and remaining calm provided successful strategies for 11-year-old Rayne Duff. Duff won the 22nd International Optimist Regatta (IOR) hosted out of the St. Thomas Yacht Club, USVI, sailed June 20 – 22. At the conclusion of the final two races, the Tortola-based sailor continued to lengthen his lead and comfortably finished with 33 points separating him from his closest competition.
“I still need to work on my starts,” said Duff, who along with his other team members will represent the BVI in the Optimist North American Championships, in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico in July. “But being consistent, in the top three in every race, is really what helped.”
Duff not only won the overall championship, but also the 11 and 12-year-old Blue Fleet.
In the 13 to 15-year-old Red Fleet, 13-year-old Teddy Nicolosi, from St. Thomas, finished first in spite of poor scores at the beginning of the regatta.
“The first day I was too nervous, I couldn’t think straight,” says Nicolosi, a member of the USVI National Team that will also compete in the Optimist North Americans in Mexico. “The second day I relaxed and told myself I didn’t care about the results, that it was just practice. Then I started sailing better.”
The USA’s Stephan Baker won the age ten and under White Fleet.
“I played the left side of the course. That’s what my coach recommended and he has a lot of experience here. It really paid off,” says Baker. Baker is coached in Miami, Florida by Antigua native and former BVI coach Omari Scott.
The trophy for Top Girl went to 11-year-old Isabella Casaretto from the USA. Casaretto also finished an impressive 7th overall.
“I sailed here last year and didn’t do well,” says Casaretto. “This year, I got clean starts, clear air and kept up with the top of the fleet. I like it that there’s a lot of wind here.”
Twenty-two junior sailors competed in the Green or Beginner Fleet, which bodes well for the future of the sport. In the end, it was nine-year-old Caroline Sibilly from St. Thomas who emerged victorious.
“My strategy was to get away from the others and into clear air so I could go fast,” says Sibilly.
Spain’s Elisenda Rahola Codina won the Pete Ives Award, given for a combination of sailing prowess, sportsmanship, determination and good attitude both on and off the water.
Meanwhile, it was the USA’s Brooke Shachoy who earned the Chuck Fuller Sportsmanship Award.
“I was very impressed with the level of skill here especially in the top sailors,” said David Campbell James of Southampton, UK, who served as the IOR’s Principal Race Officer.
A total of 81 sailors competed in the Advanced Red, Blue and White Fleets and beginner Green Fleet. The Advanced Fleets completed ten races and the Green Fleet a total of 18 races over the three days of competition. Sailors hailed from ten nations – Antigua, Argentina, the BVI, Cayman Islands, Germany, Puerto Rico, Spain, the Netherlands, U.S.A, and all three USVI.
The IOR is organized under authority of the Virgin Islands Sailing Association and it is a Caribbean Sailing Association-sanctioned event.
The week started off with the Sea Star Clinic, run by local coaches and coaches from OptiSailors.com, and included the one-day Sea Star Team Race. The team race was won by STYC 1, made up of Teddy Nicolosi, Christopher Sharpless, Mateo DiBlasi and Robert Hunter.
Major IOR sponsors include the USVI Department of Tourism, Sea Star Lines and Seven Seas Water. For full results, visit www.regattanetwork.com or www.styc.net