Light winds spelled tricky conditions that persisted throughout the 37th annual Orange Bowl Youth Regatta sailed out of the Coral Reef Yacht Club in Coral Gables, Florida, from December 26 to 30. In fact, racing was cancelled the first day for breathless calm, leaving the 680 sailors who were there to race in Optimists, Lasers and 420s only three days to compete. Winds did pick up slightly, gusting to 13 knots on the last day, but this was far from the more blustery trade winds Caribbean kids usually count on. Even so, sailors from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands excelled in this event that saw participation by sailors age eight to 18 from 17 countries and 28 states.
“I liked the light winds because I’m light. It worked to my advantage,” says Nikole ‘Nikki’ Barnes, from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, who finished sixth out of 203 in the Optimists Advanced Fleet, fifth in the 13- to 15-year-old Red Fleet, and Top Girl.
The U.S. Virgin Islands Optimist Team picked up a total of seven awards. In addition to Barnes’ three, St. Thomas’ Ian Barrows finished seventh overall and second in the 11- to 12-year-old Blue Fleet; St. John’s Alex Coyle finished 13th overall and 10th in Red Fleet; and St. Thomas’ Alec Tayler ended 21st overall and fifth in Blue Fleet.
Virgin Islands’ coach, Agustin ‘Argy’ Resanso, said, “I’m really proud of the kid’s performance. They’ve been working hard.”
In other Optimist performances, Puerto Rico’s Raul Rios, the 2007 North American and South American champion, finished eighth overall after leading the pack on the first day of sailing.
St. John’s Colin Brego made a great showing in the Optimist beginner Green Fleet, ending 13th out of 69.
Meanwhile, St. John’s Mayumi ‘Mimi’ Roller led the Caribbean delegation in the Laser Radial class, finishing 20th out of 138 sailors. “I love this regatta. The competition is good and there’s an opportunity to meet up with friends I only see a few times a year,” said Roller, who is making a bid for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Roller’s brother, Hugo, Jr., finished mid-fleet at 19th in the Laser Standard fleet, while 14-year-old Patrick Carolus from Puerto Rico made an admirable showing in this competitive fleet in 27th. “The light wind with chop and lots of boat traffic made this a hard class,” says Carolus.
Finally, St. Thomas’ Tyler Rice and Nick Schmidt finished 38th in the 420 class.
OPTIMIST – OVERALL
6. Nikole ‘Nikki’ Barnes, St. Thomas, USVI
7. Ian Barrows, St. Thomas, USVI
8. Raul Rios, Puerto Rico
13. Alex Coyle, St. John, USVI
21. Alec Tayler, St. Thomas, USVI
24. Jose Nigaglioni, Puerto Rico
28. Fernando Monllor, Puerto Rico
31. Ramon Gonzalez, Puerto Rico
33. Juan Carlos Perdomo, Puerto Rico
39. Alejandro Monllor, Puerto Rico
56. Billy Gibbons, St. Croix, USVI
65. Kyle Brego, St. John, USVI
80. Addison Hackstaff, St. Thomas, USVI
120. Roger Fernandez, Puerto Rico
159. Andre Reguero, Puerto Rico
163. Manuel Gonzalez, Puerto Rico
20. Mayumi ‘Mimi’ Roller, St. John, USVI
26. Max Nickbarg, St. John, USVI
56. David Alfonso, Puerto Rico
64. William Bailey, St. Thomas, USVI
109. Rian Bareuther, St. Thomas, USVI
19. Hugo Roller, St. John, USVI
27. Patrick Carolus, Puerto Rico
38. Tyler Rice and Nick Schmidt