St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Minimizing mistakes, racing proactively and sticking to the game plan were the skills junior sailors on Team Spectra CRYC used to win today’s TOTE Maritime Team Racing Championships. The Championships are one of a trio of events sailed out of the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC), which will play host Friday through Sunday to the 24th International Optimist Regatta, presented by Electronic Merchant Systems (EMS) Virgin Islands.
Sixteen teams of five sailors each participated in the TOTE Maritime Team Racing Championships. In extremely competitive racing that came down to a tie-breaker for first, it was Team Spectra CRYC’s sailors Stephan Baker, Mateo Farina, Liam O’Kefe, Danny Hughes and Zachariah Schemal who emerged victorious over Team VI-1. The TOTE Maritime Perpetual Trophy will be inscribed with the names of these sailors, who represent the Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami, Florida.
“It was really important to keep your head out of the boat, be on the look-out for what to do next and be aware that the other team could have come back to win at any time,” says Farina, about Team Spectra CRYC’s win.
Team member O’Keefe agrees and adds, “We really had to sail proactively.”
Similarly, “eliminating errors on the water,” is how Hughes describes the sailor’s success.
Team Spectra CRYC’s coach is Omari Scott, a native of Antigua & Barbuda. Next month, this dual-island nation will host the Optimist North American Championships. CRYC sailors Farina and Baker will be competing in this regatta too.
“This is good practice for the North Americans since Antigua will have similar conditions, only a little windier with bigger waves,” says Baker, who with Farina is a member of the U.S. National Optimist Team.
Team VI-1, who finished second in the TOTE Maritime Team Racing Championships, was represented by St. Thomas’ Mia Nicolosi, Victoria Flatley and, Julian van den Driessche; St. John’s Mateo DiBlasi and the BVI’s Rayne Duff.
Over 100 sailors, both beginning and advanced and representing seven nations, started off the week by training in the three-day TOTE Maritime Clinic held June 13 to 15. The Clinic was run by top local and international coaches.
Techniques for pin end starts, better upwind finishes and making better decisions about how to round the gate are skills the BVI’s Duff says he learned in the TOTE Maritime Clinic. “The Clinic also allowed me to size up the competition and prepare for this weekend’s racing,” says Duff, who championed the IOR/EMS in 2014.
“My plan is to not be nervous and to not be too hard on myself if I have a bad race,” says Diaz.
The 24th IOR/EMS gets underway Friday. The junior sailors, divided into a Green or Beginner Fleet and an Advanced Fleet separated into age groups, White (age 10 and under), Blue (ages 11 and 12), and Red (ages 13 to 15), are expected to complete more than a dozen races over the next three days.
In addition to the hi-caliber racing, shoreside activities included tonight’s Parade of Nations and Caribbean-themed Welcome Party and a beachside barbecue and Awards Ceremony scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday June 19th.
Trophies will be awarded to the top five sailors in each fleet and top three overall. Additional trophies include the Peter Ives’ Perpetual Trophy, the Chuck Fuller Sportsmanship Award and the top female sailor.
The IOR/EMS and TOTE Maritime Clinic and Team Race are also sponsored by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism as well as K3, which is providing all sailors with 5-liter dry bags.
This year’s event marks the fifth year that the IOR/EMS has taken part in Sailors for the Sea’s Clean Regattas program. This program, the only ocean conservation nonprofit focused on the sailing and boating community, encourages regatta participants to recycle all plastic water bottles, use the reusable water bottle provided in goodie bag throughout the regatta, keep all lunch bags and wrapping out of the water and pick up any trash on shore and accept drinks without straws.
For more information, call (340) 775-6320; Email:
[email protected], or visit the St. Thomas Yacht Club web site at www.styc.club or www.regattanetwork.com for full results. Please also visit the International Optimist Regatta on Facebook!