The Antilles School Sailing Team, from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, raced to an outstanding fourth overall in the prestigious Interscholastic Sailing Association (ISSA)’s National Team-Racing Championship for the Baker Trophy, raced May 22 to 24, out of Redwood City, California.
The regatta featured the top twelve Team Racing teams in the country and was a great opportunity for the Antilles sailors to test their skills on the national stage. The regatta was held in FJs (Flying Juniors), which are not the boats that are typically sailed on the East Coast of the U.S. or in the Virgin Islands.
“The first round robin saw the Antilles sailors struggle a bit due to the unfamiliarity with the boats, but they sailed well enough to earn a spot in a three-way tie for fourth place and a spot in the elite Final Four round,” explained coach Russ O’Reilly. “Upon entering the sail-off, the VI sailors knew that to improve on the team’s finish last year (5th) they would have to qualify for the final four. With this motivation they won the sail-off outright and moved into the final four round.”
Winds on San Francisco Bay increased to well over 20 knots and the small size of the Antilles sailors left them at a disadvantage when compared to the other teams in the round, but the VI sailors fought hard, keeping all the races close and finishing an admirable fourth overall.
”The Antilles team started off slowly, but reveled in must-win situations throughout the event,” says O’Reilly. “With no seniors graduating this year and a very strong incoming 9th grade class the VI sailors will be strong contenders for years to come.”