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Monday, January 30, 2023



Sept. 3, 2001 – Charcoal clouds, blustery winds and rain pelting down so hard that it was difficult to tell where the sky stopped and sea began spelled the conditions for the first day of racing in the 2nd annual Island Marine Outfitters KATS (Kids and the Sea) Cup International Multi-Class Regatta held Saturday and Sunday out of Coral Bay.
If those conditions fazed Ian Barrows, it didn't show. The St. Thomas 6-year-old valiantly crewed with Sunfish Doubles partner Addison Caproni, 13, sometimes even taking the tiller between races.
"He's never sailed before, but he's watched his older brother and really wanted to do it," Ian's dad, Shep Barrows, said. Ultimately, Ian and Addison won their class — and with their fellow St. Thomas sailors took home the top team trophy.
But more important, Ian signified the spirit of the regatta — first-time sailors testing their skills, more experienced juniors tackling progressively more difficult boats, and adult sailors demonstrating their love of competition in the sport.
The six-class event attracted 58 sailors from St. John, St. Thomas, St. Croix, the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Sint. Maarten and Trinidad and Tobago. They competed in Laser singles and doubles, Sunfish singles and doubles, and Optimist advanced and Green fleet. The short, sprint-style courses were triangular or straight-line windward/leeward.
"Through this event, we wanted to generate interest for the Caribbean Dinghy Championships, which we'll host next year, and to acquaint sailors with team racing," regatta organizer Robin Clair Pitts said.
Competition was keen in the Laser singles class, with winner Beech Higby from St. Croix being one of only two sailors to finish the first race when a squall blew through the course. Higby went on to rack up six more wins to take the class — with final second- and third-place finishers Tom Kozyn of St. Thomas and Robbie Ferron of Sint Maarten, respectively, riding his tail in more than one race.
Thomas Barrows from St. Thomas, who has long excelled at Optimist sailing, proved with teammate Nathan Rosenberg that he's equally adept at handing a Laser. "He sailed Laser Radials up in the states this summer, as well as Optimist," Thomas's dad, Shep, explained. The pair won this class just four points ahead of the St. Croix duo of Scott Stanton and Andrew Loe.
Two veteran St. John Opti sailors, Callie Burks and Valerie Trahan, graduated to Lasers for this event and handily placed third. "It's a more difficult boat than an Optimist, but doubles are fun," Burks said afterward.
The colorful sails on the Sunfish cut dashing figures across the course as St. Croix's Peter Stanton sailed to a nearly flawless first-place finish. Peter has sailed Sunfish since 1999 and competed in two Sunfish Worlds. "Lasers are physically demanding, and weight is all important," he said. "But with Sunfish, there's less emphasis on weight and more on tactics." Peter, his brother Scott, fellow St. Croix sailor Tim Pitts and St. John's Angelo Raimondi will compete in the Sunfish Worlds in Antigua Oct. 5-15. In this weekend's sailing, St. John's Ian Beam and Dane Tarr placed second and third, respectively, in this class.
Caproni and Barrows captured the Sunfish doubles, but close in pursuit were two St. John duos, Zach Trahan and Lonnie Tarr, and Chutney Mohler and Nicole Barbier. In the end, Zach and Lonnie won the tie-breaker for second place by having garnered more first-place finishes than Chutney and Nicole.
Three fleets raced in the advanced Optimist class. St. Thomas's Cy Thompson won in the Red Fleet (for ages 13-15); St. Thomas's Taylor Canfield took the Blue Fleet (ages 11-12), and Puerto Rico's David Alphonso finished first in the White Fleet (10 and under). Alphonso was one of four competitors who traveled from Puerto Rico for the event. "We're working to promote more small boat sailing," David Kerr, president of Puerto Rico's Federacion de Vela, said.
Experience at the Optimist National Championships in Barrington, Rhode Island, paid off for Optimist sailors earning medals in the Green Fleet. "I gained a lot of experience and confidence," Tyler Rice of St. Thomas, who won the class, said. St. John sailors Sarah Burks and Hugo Roller, who also sailed at the Nationals, ended second and third, respectively.
The theme of sportsmanship played out many times throughout the two-day regatta: Class competitors rigging their boats side by side on the beach, "good job" called out to fellow sailors, and assistance given to "turtled" boats between races. "Sportsmanship is almost even more important in this regatta than how you place out on the course," Pitts said at the start of the event. "It's what sailing is all about."
One sportsmanship trophy was awarded to Elsa Meyers of the B.V.I., who got a conk on the head from her Optimist boom during wild weather the first day but didn't give up sailing. Another went to St. Croix's Curtis Diaz, who volunteered to tow a boat in to shore where it could be repaired. And a third went to Puerto Rico's David Kerr Jr., who volunteered to sail in Sunfish singles — in a boat that was new to him — since he was too big for an Optimist and too young to sail Laser singles.
At the awards presentation, Ian Barrows happily accepted the shiny golden team trophy for the St. Thomas delegation. Tom Petrone, director of retail operations for the regatta sponsor, presented the Island Marine Outfitters KATS Cup trophy. "I'm impressed with the dedication shown by these sailors," Petrone said. "We're proud to be involved and hope to contribute again in the future."

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