How can you assure good participation when three regattas on three different islands take place on three weekends in a row? Santiago ‘Tino’ Galan, resident coach for the Virgin Islands Optimist Dinghy Association’s (VIODA) Advanced Optimist Sailing Program and Team ISV, had the answer: The new VI Triple Crown series. The inaugural Series started with the Cruzan Open on St. Croix, followed by the VIODA Championship Regatta on St. John and concluded with the BVI Dinghy Championships on Tortola.
“A Series like this helps to foster good relationships between islands, the different sailing programs, the parents, and of course the kids,” Galan explains. “The other aspect is the actual sailing one. Many sailors on the start line and racing in big fleets benefit because most island programs are small and the kids don’t get this opportunity.”
Twenty-seven sailors from all three U.S. Virgin Islands, the BVI, St. Maarten and Antigua competed in the inaugural VI Triple Crown. There was definitely close competition. After three regattas and over 30 races, it was
St. Thomas’ Christopher Murphy who won, beating second place finisher, St. Thomas’ Scott McKenzie, by only one point.
“It was really close between Scott and me at the end,” says 14-year-old Murphy. “We’ve been sailing together since we were 11 and it’s always been like that. I’d say my biggest advantage was overall tactics. I’m not the fastest sailor because I’m almost too big for the boat now, but I really use tactics to advantage.”
Murphy won the Optimist overall in both the Cruzan Open and VIODA Championship Regatta, thus comfortably leading the series going into the BVI Dinghy Championships. There, he found the chop in the Channel outside Nanny Cay a challenge and finished fifth overall. Meanwhile, McKenzie finished a solid second and third overall in the St. Croix and St. John events, and earned a third overall in the BVI.
“I am glad I caught up to Chris in Tortola,” says 14-year-old McKenzie, “but he deserved to win because he sailed very well.”
McKenzie earned second overall in the VI Triple Crown. St. Thomas’ Teddy Nicolosi, a dark horse in the series with an eighth place finish in the Cruzan Open, put himself back in the running with a hard-earned second at the VIODA Championship Regatta and a nothing-short-of phenomenal first place at the BVI Dinghy Champs with seven bullets in eight races. Nicolosi finished third in the series. St. John’s Paige Clarke earned the Triple Crown trophy for Top Girl, finishing eighth overall.
Galan concludes, “I hope the Triple Crown will grow and become an annual event.”
For full series results, visit: vioda.webs.com/documents.htm
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.