The USVI’s next generation of sailors have made their mark on the global world of match racing. Team USVI finished an impressive 8th out of 15 teams competing in the inaugural ISAF Youth Match Racing World Championships, held July 23 to 27, in Helsinki, Finland. The event was a Grade W, meaning it was a world championship attracting top talent age 23 and under.
“I heard about the Championships while home at Christmas, then Henry Menin (long-time St. Thomas resident and past chairman of the ISAF Match Racing Committee) called me in February and asked if I would put a team together,” explains skipper, Tyler Rice, who graduated from Brown University in May and has sailed with the likes of fellow Virgin Islands and top-ranked match racers, Taylor Canfield and Peter Holmberg.
Rice assembled a top Virgin Islands team. William Bailey called tactics, Max Nickbarg trimmed jib and spinnaker, Serena Capulo worked the pit, and Olin Davis was on bow.
In the wake of two practice days and three days of round robin racing in the relatively calm waters, light breeze and high temperatures off Finland’s Lauttasaari Island, Team ISV (USVI) made the top eight team cut into the semi-finals along with Denmark, Australia, Great Britain, France, the USA, New Zealand and Italy.
“We moved into the quarter finals to face Joachim Aschenbrenner from Denmark, the number one seed of the regatta (and 12th ranked skipper in the World),” says Rice. “The combination of a few of our own mistakes on the starting line as well as incredibly strong boat control and maneuvers by the Danish team, led to our elimination from the quarter-finals in three quick races. As tough as it was to be knocked out in such a prompt fashion, it truly was a great experience to sail against this top-notch team. In fact, following our quarter-finals round, the Danish team went undefeated in both the semis and finals to win the entire regatta!”
The goal of this championship was to bring together the best youth match racers from around the world, acknowledge their skills and offer a pathway to senior match racing competition. The 2015 competition will be held in Swinoujscie, Poland.
“With solid conditions, incredible competition, and so many cool youth sailors from around the World, we couldn’t have asked for a better event,” says Rice, who, with fellow team members plans to continue match racing in the future.
For full results, go to: www.matchracingresults.com/2014/isaf-youth-world-championship/
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.