A near record 115 junior sailors, 8-to-15 year-olds, representing seven countries, set sail June 17 to 19 in the International Optimist Regatta (IOR), which was presented by Electronic Merchant System (EMS) Virgin Islands. Their participation will be prefaced by partaking in the TOTE Maritime Clinic, June 13 to 15, and TOTE Maritime Team Race, on June 16. The IOR/EMS, nearly a quarter-century old, is one of the largest and longest held junior sailing events in the Caribbean.
“The boats and teams arrived this weekend, and we look forward to a fabulous event,” said Ann Nicolosi, regatta director. “We will have a spectator boat and would love to have the public come out and watch the action. For those who can’t be here, we will be posting throughout the event on social media including our Facebook page.”
Last year’s overall champion, St. Thomas’ Teddy Nicolosi, has aged out of the Optimist; however, Nicolosi’s sister Mia, who ended in second place last year, and the British Virgin Islands’ Rayne Duff, the 2014 winner, are expected to keep the rest of the advanced fleet sailors on their toes as they all vie to be the famed first place finisher.
Nicolosi and Duff will be up against tough competition from fellow Virgin Islands sailors: St. Thomas’ Julian van den Driessche and St. Croix’s Atlee Kohl, Lake Sanford and Matthew Dale, who, along with Nicolosi, will represent the U.S. Virgin Islands at the Optimist World Championships, June 25 to July 4, in Vilamoura, Portugal. Duff will represent the British Virgin Islands, BVI, at this same event.
The IOR/EMS welcomes several other high-caliber competitors such as a few of the U.S. National Team members who will compete in the Seaboard Marine Optimist North American Championship, in Antigua, July 10 to 18. These are Stephan Baker, Mateo Farina and Ryan Satterberg. Virgin Islands sailors Nicolosi and Dale as well as St. Thomas’ Victoria Flatley, St. Croix’s Steven Hardee and St. John’s Mateo DiBlasi will also sail in the IOR/EMS in preparation for the North American Championship in Antigua.
Talented Caribbean sailors racing in the IOR/EMS include Antigua’s River Andrews, the BVI’s Nathan Haycraft, Dominican Republic’s Christopher Theo, Puerto Rico’s Jose Arturo Diaz and Trinidad & Tobago’s Joseph Poon Tip.
The TOTE Maritime Clinic, which started Monday and is run by top international coaches, drills sailors on starts, tactics and strategy.
Sixteen teams are expected for the TOTE Maritime Team Race. Entry fee is $160 per team of four sailors. Registration closes at 5 p.m. on June 15.
Final registration for the IOR/EMS will take place on Thursday, June 16. The entry fee is $250 and includes an event T-shirt, registration goodie bag, and all meals from Thursday June 18th’s Welcome Party through Sunday’s brunch.
Shore-side activities will include an opening Parade of Nations and Welcome Party, a Caribbean Night celebration that includes fire dancers, and a Beachside Brunch and Awards Ceremony on June 19.
Trophies will be awarded to the top five sailors in each fleet and the top three overall. Additional trophies include the Peter Ives Perpetual Trophy, the Chuck Fuller Sportsmanship Award and the top female sailor. The TOTE Maritime Perpetual Trophy will be inscribed with the names of the sailors on the winning team racing team.
“We at EMS (Electronic Merchant Systems) are proud to sponsor the International Optimist Regatta,” says Cobia Fagan, owner, EMS Virgin Islands. “With our support, EMS hopes to enable the St. Thomas Yacht Club junior sailing program to continue the rich history of excellence. We understand that our commitment will only further give the youths of our territory the ability to excel in this sport.”
The clinic and team race are also sponsored by the V.I. Department of Tourism as well as K3, which is providing all sailors with five-liter dry bags.
This year’s event marks the fifth year that the IOR/EMS has taken part in Sailors for the Sea’s Clean Regattas program. This program, the only ocean conservation nonprofit focused on the sailing and boating community, encourages regatta participants to recycle all plastic water bottles, use the reusable water bottle provided in goodie bag throughout the regatta, keep all lunch bags and wrapping out of the water, and pick up any trash on shore and accept drinks without straws.
For more information, call 775-6320; fax: (340) 775-3600, e-mail: [email protected], or visit the St. Thomas Yacht Club Web site at www.styc.club or www.regattanetwork.com. Also visit the International Optimist Regatta on Facebook.