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Cruz Bay
Wednesday, October 5, 2022


Ian Beam of St. John, V.I. was given the award as top Caribbean sailor at the Optimist World Championships in Martinique last week.
Children from 8 to 15 years of age competed against one another in the eight foot Optimist prams for a total of 15 races over 6 days from July 16 -26. The young competitors came from Europe, Scandinavia, Africa, Asia, South America, South Pacific, North America, New Zealand and, of course, the Caribbean.
The Caribbean nations represented were the U.S.Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Bahamas, Bermuda, Barbados and Cuba.
Two hundred and twenty children represented 47 countries. Each country was allowed to send up to 5 children, so these were truly the best young sailors in the world.
The overall team winner for the 15 fleet races was Croatia. The overall individual winner was Mattia Pressich of Italy, for the second year in a row.
The rest of the U.S. Virgin Island team was comprised of Scott and Peter Stanton (twin brothers) from St. Croix, Angelo Raimondi of St. John and Cy Thompson of St. Thomas. They were selected through a qualification system of 12 races that were held in April.
The Virgin Island Team worked very hard both on the water and on land. The team came in 30th out of 47 teams, a major achievement for a group that has never before attended the World Championships.
The racing was very competitive. Over seventy of the small craft would start a once. Sailors could not afford to make any mistakes. A missed wind shift or poor start left no way to recover. Ian Beam pointed out that his experience in larger boats helped him.
Beam said, "I would sail on the course before the start of my race and find the favored side and that really helped me,"
"Our team has guys with good boat speed, but when you start with 70 other boats on the line, tactics and strategy are what made the difference for me," he continued. Beam is now fifteen years old and will "age out" of the Optimist class this fall when he turns sixteen.
The sailing talent was so good because only the top 5 from each country could attend. There are approximately 400,000 Optimist sailors in the world and only the best 220 could attend the Worlds. For example, approximately 2500 French children tried out to become one of the five from their country.
The Team Leader and Coach of the V.I. team was Verian Aguilar and she did a great job in organizing the team, getting them extra practice and coaching them within the limits allowed by the organizers.
Also there from the V.I. was Christine Thompson who was asked by the French Sailing Federation to act as Secretary General of the regatta. That meant that she was responsible for much of the coordination of the organization and she acted as liaison between the French organization and those who did not speak French. Her praises were being sung by everyone who came in contact with her.
Henry Menin of St. Thomas also attended the Optimist World Championships as Vice- Chairman of the 11 member International Jury.

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