Beating out the unexpected Hurricane Omar by a few days, St. Thomas Yacht Club hosted its annual Columbus Day Regatta October 11-12, 2008 and enjoyed the largest turnout ever for this event, with more than fifty entrants sailing in Optimists, Lasers and Club 420s. Sailors from all three U.S. Virgin Islands and the BVI competed in a variety of conditions. Winds were brisk at times as squalls came through, followed by periods of very light winds until the wind filled in again.
“The race committee did a great job of keeping the racing fun and safe, especially for the beginner sailors, known as the Green Fleet in the Optimists, some of whom were sailing in their first regatta,” reported St. Croix’s Sue Gibbons.
The committee was also pleased to see so many sailors in the Club 420 class, which saw 12 teams competing, according to Gibbons. “Many of the 420 sailors compete on their high school sailing team and many have recently graduated out of the Optimist class into the bigger two-man boat. In fact, in a good showing of inter-island camaraderie, the winning team in the 420 was comprised of a sailor from St. Thomas and a sailor from St. Croix.”
The adults joined in the fun too by sailing in the Lasers. There were a number of women competing in the 4.7 and Radial preparing for the Ladies Regatta and Tennis Tournament, which was scheduled to follow at the St. Thomas Yacht Club the weekend of November 8-9, 2008.
“Emma Paull convincingly won the laser radial class and gave the standard rigs a beating on Sunday winning all the races. She was also first lady helm,” reported BVI’s Richard Wooldridge.
The BVI team loaded up a large catamaran, Wild Thing, with five Optimists and a laser and sailed over to St. Thomas to participate. Since racing ended just after midday Sunday due to increasing winds and squalls, the team had an opportunity to attend the prize-giving before making the long haul back.
In the Optimist Green fleet the BVI swept the board and Ryan Wooldridge took the top spot with David Hirst and Barney Knockold close behind. “There are no prizes or medals in the green fleet. It is generally considered that these young sailors are cutting their teeth and if it’s prizes they are after… it’s time to move up to the white fleet!” reported Richard Wooldridge.
BVI’s Jason Putley won first place in the White Fleet, and a medal. “He actually placed second overall taking in the Blue and Red fleets. The Red, White and Blue Optimist fleets sail the same course,” said Wooldridge.
“In the Optimist Blue fleet Mollie Donavon came third and was the top girl overall. Jonathon Woods was 4th just behind her.”
On the adult side, Robbie Hirst did enough scoring in the first day to score second overall in the full size Lasers. On Sunday he helped BVI Coach Chris Watters look after the fleet in the fresh conditions.
“Robbie wasn’t too keen on the prospect of a day’s hard hiking out!” reported Wooldridge. “Alec Anderson teamed up with DonTae Hodge in the 420s. There were 12 racing and crews had to rotate around the boats to ensure parity. Things were looking promising when the young Islanders notched two bullets on the first day. However, a disappointing Sunday left them back in seventh place overall.”
BVI’s tired, young sailors trooped back onboard Wild Thing for the long haul back to the BVI. “It was so squally they managed to watch two movies during the 4 hour trip!” said Wooldridge.
Consolidated from onsite reports submitted from St. Thomas by Sue Gibbons (St. Croix) and Richard Wooldridge (BVI).
Optimist Green Fleet – Ryan Woodridge (BVI)
Optimist White Fleet – Jason Putney (BVI)
Optimist Blue Fleet – Addison Hackstaff (St. Thomas)
Optimist Red Fleet – Kyle Brego (St. Thomas/St. John)
Optimist Overall – Addison Hackstaff (St. Thomas)
Lasers 4.7 – Karen Rice (St. Thomas)
Lasers Radial – Emma Paul (BVI)
Lasers Standard – Mark Vanden Driessche (St. Thomas)
Club 420 – Tyler Rice (St. Thomas) and Billy Gibbons (St. Croix)