U.S. Virgin Islands’ sailors continue to make their mark in the world of U.S. Intercollegiate sailboat racing. The latest sign of this were podium finishes for St. Thomas sailors Ian Barrows, Nikki Barnes and William Bailey at the Gill College Sailing Coed National Championships, held June 4-5 in Newport, RI. This proved quite a feat for the usually warm-weather sailors. In addition to stiff competition from 36 schools in the Semi-Finals and 18 in the Finals, the Virgin Islands’ sailors also battled Mother Nature: rain, temperatures in the upper 50 degrees Fahrenheit and winds gusting to 20-knots plus.
“Growing up sailing in the Caribbean really helped me to be comfortable in big breeze and to maximize my boat speed,” says Barrows, a sophomore at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut.
Barrows was one of two Yale skippers to lead his team to a Championships win by a nearly 70-point lead. Yale, with Barrows at the helm, also won the collegiate Laser Performance Team Race National Championships the week prior, one of three events, including the Sperry ICSA Women’s National Championship, which concluded the 2014-2015 U.S. college sailing season.
Nikki Barnes, a sophomore at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (CGA), based in New London, Connecticut and one of five federal service academies in the nation, was also one of two skippers who earned her team a second place finish at the Coed National Championships. This marks the first time since 1966 that the CGA Sailing team earned a podium finish at this event.
“What I really like about college sailing, and why I recommend it to sailors back home, who are in high school now, is that you learn so much. College sailing is every weekend in the fall and spring, with ever changing venues and dynamics,” says Barnes.
William Bailey, who graduated in May from Boston College, in Boston, Massachusetts, along with Puerto Rico’s Raul Rios, a sophomore at the same school, came from behind on the first day of the Finals to cinch third place overall on the second and final day of competition.
“Growing up we didn’t always have a coach out with us on the water. That has helped me to learn how to motivate and push myself at the college level. That’s good because we have 40 sailors on the team and one to two coaches,” says Bailey.
Bailey and Rios also led their team to a second place overall at the Laser Performance Team Race National Championships.
Barrows, Barnes and Bailey stood with their respective college teams on the lawn at the New York Yacht Club, in Newport, RI, to receive their awards. They follow fellow U.S. Virgin Islands sailors such as Anthony Kotoun, St. Mary’s College (’00); Thomas Barrows, Yale University (’10); Taylor Canfield, Boston College (’11); Cy Thompson, Roger Williams (’11); and Mayumi Roller, St. Mary’s College (’13), who did tremendously well on the U.S. college sailing circuit and since then in their Olympic, Match Racing and World Championship careers.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.