St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). A bold move to cover his opponent proved a winning strategy for St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands’ sailor Teddy Nicolosi. The 14-year-old Nicolosi won the 23rd International Optimist Regatta (IOR), hosted out of the St. Thomas Yacht Club from June 19 to 21. At the conclusion of today’s final three races, not only did Nicolosi finish with a 7-point lead, but he also became the first U.S. Virgin Islands’ sailor to finish first overall in the history of this regatta. That’s quite a feat considering the keen level of competition in a field of sailors representing nine nations and winds blowing a brisk 15- to 17-plus knots.
“Rayne (Duff from the British Virgin Islands and the 2014 IOR Champion) and I were tied on points going into today,” Nicolosi explains. “In the first race, Rayne moved ahead of me by two points and into the lead. I knew I had to cover him the whole way in the second race to have a chance at the championship.”
Nicolosi successfully covered Duff tack for tack in spite of both finishing deep in the pack at 45th and 49th, respectively, in the 62-boat Advanced Optimist fleet. Nicolosi’s game plan was to use this poor score as his one throw-out. Unfortunately, Duff had finished 17th in an earlier race and had to keep that double-digit score since his 49th place now turned into his one worst score throw-out. That put Duff a nearly 20 points behind Nicolosi going into the last race of the regatta. Nicolosi then had only one other competitor to keep an eye on: his sister, Mia Nicolosi.
“I just had to keep my sister in my sights and not let her get ahead of me and that’s what happened. Overall, it was good starts, good boat speed with some good tactics thrown in that helped me to win,” says Nicolosi.
Teddy Nicolosi not only won the overall championship, but also the 13- to 15-year-old Red Fleet. Mia Nicolosi, who ended second overall, topped the 11- and 12-year-old Blue Fleet and earned the Best Girl award.
“I didn’t think about trying to be the Best Girl, I wanted to be the best sailor. On the last race, I focused on sailing fast. But on the last upwind leg there was a large wind shift and I ended up with my worst score of the regatta, a 13th.”
The USA’s Jackson McAliley triumphed in the age 10-and-Under White Fleet.
“There’s more swell, heavier air and deeper water than I’m use to sailing in at home in Miami,” says McAliley. “What I really liked was the clinic earlier in the week when I learned what to do when someone crossed in front of my on the water. That skill really helped me in the regatta in spite of the unfamiliar conditions.”
Twenty junior sailors competed in the Green or Beginner Fleet, which bodes well for the future of the sport. In the end, it was 10-year-old Katherine Majette from St. Thomas who ended on top.
“Last year I sailed in this fleet and finished 16th. Since then, I’ve gone from sailing on just the weekends to after school as well. My coaches taught me everything,” Majette says.
The BVI’s Rayne Duff earned 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 St. Croix, USVI’s Brooke Schmelz who won the Chuck Fuller Sportsmanship Award.
“This event is one of the higher level dinghy regattas in North America,” says Don Makowiecki, who served as the IOR’s Principal Race Officer.
A total of 82 sailors competed in the Advanced Red, Blue and White Fleets and beginner Green Fleet. The Advanced Fleets completed 11 races and the Green Fleet a total of 15 races over the three days of competition. Sailors hailed from 9 nations – Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Puerto Rico, St. Barths, St. Lucia, the U.S.A. and all three U.S. Virgin Islands.
The IOR is organized under authority of the Virgin Islands Sailing Association and it is a Caribbean Sailing Association-sanctioned event.
The week started off with the Sea Star Clinic, run by local and international coaches, and included the one-day Sea Star Team Race. The team race was won by Team ISV 1, made up of Teddy Nicolosi, Mia Nicolosi, Mateo Di Blasi, Julian van den Driessche and Victoria Flatley.
The Optimist is an 8-foot long single-sail dinghy. This boat is sailed in over 120 countries and is one of only two yachts approved by the International Sailing Federation for sailors under the age of 16. In the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, 80 percent of all skippers were former dinghy sailors and most started in the Optimist.
Major event sponsors include the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, Sea Star Lines and the U.S. Virgin Islands Olympic Committee.
For full results, visit www.regattanetwork.com. For more information about the IOR, visit www.styc.net. Also visit the International Optimist Regatta on Facebook!
RESULTS (Top 3)
RED FLEET (26 Boats)
1. Teddy Nicolosi, St. Thomas, USVI (29)
2. Zane Rogers, USA (39)
3. Mariner Fagan, USA (80)
BLUE FLEET (33 Boats)
1. Mia Nicolosi, St. Thomas, USVI (36)
2. Rayne Duff, BVI (49)
3. Isabella Casaretto, USA (71)
WHITE FLEET (5 Boats)
1. Jackson McAliley, USA (417)
2. Sebastian Spinelli-Sax, USA (437)
3. Caroline Sibilly, St. Thomas, USVI (439)
GREEN FLEET (20 Boats)
1. Katherine Majette, St. John, USVI (34)
2. Anya Reshetiloff, BVI (53)
3. Lola Kohl, St. Croix, USVI (66)