Sailing is a sport in which brothers and sisters can compete side-by-side. That’s pretty awesome, especially if your pre-teen and newly-teen siblings have both worked hard to gain a coveted spot on a national team, and travel together to race around the globe. This describes St. Thomas’ Teddy and Mia Nicolosi. The two are already making waves in the Optimist dinghy through a unique spirit of competition and cooperation they share with each other as well as with their U.S. Virgin Islands’ teammates.
The two kids and older sister Graceann didn’t know how to sail when they moved to the territory with their parents Dan and Ann in 2008. “The kids did the summer sailing camp at the St. Thomas Yacht Club,” tells Ann Nicolosi. “We thought it would be a good way for them to meet some children. Little did we know it would be start of something even better.”
Teddy and Mia’s first event was STYCs Columbus Day Regatta in 2011. Teddy was tapped to join a private coaching program after this. Today, both kids train five days a week (three days after school plus weekends) with STYC Head Coach, Agustin ‘Argy’ Resano and the rest of the USVI National Team from September to June. Since starting racing, Teddy has achieved top ten percent fleet finishes in several regattas such as the Optimist New England’s, Midwinters and the Orange Bowl Regatta. This year, Mia has finished first in the White Fleet (age 10 and under) in both Midwinters and Orange Bowl. Both Teddy and Mia were among team members placing third in team racing at the 2014 South American Championships held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in April. In July the two travelled to the Optimist North American Championships in Nayarit, Mexico.
“What I like about sailing is that there are so many challenges when you’re trying to reach a certain level. It keeps me interested,” explains 13-year-old Teddy. “Plus, I use all the knowledge gained from all the different places we’ve sailed and all the different conditions to keep focused.”
It’s the competition that 11-year-old Mia enjoys. “After all the practice, racing lets you know where you are, how you’ve improved and how your skills compare to others, especially when you’re sailing in big fleets,” she says.
The opportunity to travel to regattas has enabled the siblings to form friendships with other sailors all over the world as well as to learn from their travels. For example, Mia tells of one of her favorite experiences in Uruguay when some sea lions stretched out lazily nearby and watched the kids rig their boats and how others laid on the boat ramp while the fleet launched. This isn’t something you see in the Caribbean!
The brother and sister connection provides an added dimension to the kids sailing.
“We fight sometimes out on the water, but that’s a normal part of competition,” says Mia. “The good part is that he tells me stuff and it helps. It’s good to have someone there.”
Teddy agrees, “I can get more aggressive with her when I’m telling her things because she’s my sister and she knows I’m trying to help her.”
In the future, both Teddy and Mia plan to continue competitively sailing through high school, college and possibly beyond.
What is their advice to kids, siblings or not, who would like to follow in their footsteps?
“Sailing is a sport that’s natural to do here in the Virgin Islands, plus it can take you around the world more easily than other sports,” Teddy says.
“Don’t give up if you’re not too good at first,” Mia recommends. “It’s all about trying as hard as you can and having fun.”