Covering the fleet and staying in front proved successful strategies for 15 year-old Romain Screve. Screve won the 21st International Optimist Regatta presented by Glacial Energy and held out of the St. Thomas Yacht Club, U.S. Virgin Islands, from June 21 to 23. At the conclusion of the final two races, the San Francisco-based sailor lengthened his lead from three points to a very comfortable twenty. That’s quite a feat considering the keen level of competition in the 81-boat Advanced Optimist fleet and wind conditions that ranged from barely breezy to gusty in squalls.
“I had good results and moved into the lead yesterday,” Screve explains. “Today, I went out there and covered my two closest competitors. I had good starts and good boat speed too.”
Screve not only won the overall championship, but also the 13 to 15 year-old Red Fleet.
In the 11 to 12 year-old Blue Fleet, it was 12 year-old Severin Gramm, from Delray Beach, Florida, who finished first. This is the first time Gramm has sailed in the Virgin Islands.
“The clinic helped me to understand the pattern of winds here and get use to them, and that helped me during the regatta,” Gramm says. “My overall strategy was to stay consistent, play it safe and don’t do anything risky that would push me deep into the fleet.”
British Virgin Islands ten-year-old Rayne Duff won the age ten and Under White Fleet.
“Hiking out was something I learned to do better in the clinic,” says Duff, who finished second in this division last year. “Hiking was really important in the regatta because it was windy.”
The trophy for Top Girl was awarded to 14 year-old Paige Clarke, from St. John, USVI. Clarke also finished an impressive 8th overall.
“I felt more confident this year,” says Clarke, who has the experience of a number of continental Optimist championships now under her belt. “I called every shift and always saw what was coming.”
A record 33 junior sailors competed in the Green or Beginner Fleet this year, which bodes well for the future of the sport. In the end, it was ten-year-old Will Jackson from the Cayman Islands who emerged victorious.
“I like the heavy wind,” says Jackson. “Today, when the wind dropped mid-morning, I went from going fast to slowish-fast. Still, I had a lot of fun and met a lot of new friends.”
The USVI’s Clarke also 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 Thomas Rice who earned the Chuck Fuller Sportsmanship Award.
A total of 113 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 nine nations – Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and the USA and USVI.
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 the Pilo 1 Team made up of Mexico’s Henry Saavedra and the USA’s Romain Screve, Matt Logue and Wiley Rogers. The team is named for the sailor’s coach, Esteban ‘Pilo’ Rocha.
Major event sponsors include Glacial Energy and Sea Star Lines as well as Gill North America.
For full results, visit www.regattanetwork.com
Report by Carol M. Bareuther