USA’s Brill Win 29th International Optimist Regatta in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Good starts, consistent finishes, and having fun is what led the USA’s Beck Brill to win the 29th International Optimist Regatta (IOR), hosted at St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC), June 17 to 19. Thirteen-year-old Brill, representing Miami, FL’s Coconut Grove Sailing Club, was one of nearly 100 sailors from Puerto Rico, several U.S.A. states, and the U.S. Virgin Islands that competed in this three-day regatta under Caribbean-ideal conditions that averaged 15- to 18-knots of breeze under sunny skies.

“Congratulations to the winners of this year’s International Optimist Regatta. We continue to remain inspired by the new generation of sailors who are the future of our marine life. Congratulations to our partners at the St. Thomas Yacht club for another year of a successful and seamless race. We look forward to continuing this tradition and welcoming our residents and visitors to experience the sailing paradise of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” says Joseph Boschulte, Commissioner of Tourism for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Photo: The USA’s Beck Brill, IOR 2022 Overall Winner. Credit Matias Capizzano


Brill’s first place overall also put him at the top of the 13- to 15-year-old Red Fleet, after 10 races in the Championship fleet.

“I was in the lead going into today, so it was scary. I knew I had to be consistent to stay in front. I sang songs in my head to relax. In the first race today, Kayla (Benesch) beat me. Our scores got closer. In the last race, I finished second and it put me in the lead by 7 points,” says Brill, who has sailed in the IOR for four years as has Benesch.

Thirteen-year-old Benesch, from Miami, FL’s Coral Reef Yacht Club, ended second overall and second in the Red Fleet and earned the Top Female award. She is the first to receive the new perpetual Founders Trophy, awarded to the IOR’s top female sailor. This trophy is designed to recognize the IOR’s women’s sailing past and present and promote greater participation by young women in this event. The Founders Trophy is the brainchild of two of the event’s five founders, Henry and Fredelle Menin.

“Good starts, good upwind and downwind legs, and sailing fast. That was my goal today. Even in the last race, when I knew I wouldn’t win the overall, I didn’t give up. I just kept sailing hard and trying to pass as many boats as I could,” says Benesch.

In the age 11- to 12-year-old Blue Fleet, 12-year-old Emilio Bocanegra, from Ft. Lauderdale, FL’s Lauderdale Yacht Club, finished first.

“My plan for the week was to be consistent and get good starts. Each day, I worked to execute my plan. It paid off. It was a very good week,” says Bocanegra, who also won the 4-leg Volvo Ocean Race, the wrap-up event to the TOTE Clinic earlier in the week.

Rounding out the Championship Fleet is White Fleet winner, 10-year-old Diego Rivera-Hermida, from San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Club Nautico de San Juan.

Photo: The USA’s Kayla Benesch, Top Female Sailor in the 2022 IOR. Credit: Dean Barnes

“I tried to keep on the side of the course where the wind was best,” says Rivera-Hermida, who added that having fun and making friends were highlights of his week as well as the podium finish.

Meanwhile, it was 10-year-old Diego Delgado-Ripepi, also representing Club Nautico de San Juan, who won the Beginner Green Fleet after a total of 21 races.

“I listened to my coach. When I didn’t understand something, I just stayed calm and sailed. That’s how I won most of the races,” says Delgado-Ripepi.

In other awards, it was Fort Lauderdale, FL’s Maxton Damiano, from the Lauderdale Yacht Club, who earned the Pete Ives Award, given for a combination of sailing prowess, sportsmanship, determination, and good attitude both on and off the water. St. Thomas Yacht Club’s Emma Walters earned the Chuck Fuller Sportsmanship Award. The Sportsmanship Award was awarded to Violet Karr, from Miami, FL, and Coral Reef Yacht Club. Lastly, the inaugural Race Committee Award went to Harrison Szot, of CERT/Bay Head Yacht Club, in Bay Head, NJ.


The 8- to 15-year-old sailors started the week by training in the three-day TOTE Clinic held June 13 to 15.

The Clinic was run by top local and international coaches: The coaches, in alphabetical order with their affiliations, are Mykel Alonso (Coral Reef Yacht Club, FL, USA), Pepe Betini (Long Island Sound Optimist Team, NY, USA), Jose Arturo Diaz (Club Nautico de San Juan, PR), Mateo Di Blasi (STYC, USVI), Edgar Diminich (Key Biscayne Yacht Club, FL, USA), Bernat Gali (Coral Reef Yacht Club, FL, USA), Kate McDonald (STYC, USVI), Gonzalo Pollitzer (Club Nautico San Isidro, Argentina), Agustin Resano (STYC, USVI), Manny Resano (California Yacht Club, CA, USA), and Esteban Rocha (Fort Lauderdale Yacht Club, FL, USA).

The one-day TOTE Team Racing Championships took place on June 16. Out of over a dozen teams, the winner was Team CRYC Spectra. Team members were Will Barnhart, Kayla Benesch, Brayden Zawyer, and Sophie De Leon Urban.

The Clinic was run by top local and international coaches: The coaches, in alphabetical order with their affiliations, are Mykel Alonso (Coral Reef Yacht Club, FL, USA), Pepe Betini (Long Island Sound Optimist Team, NY, USA), Jose Arturo Diaz (Club Nautico de San Juan, PR), Mateo Di Blasi (STYC, USVI), Edgar Diminich (Key Biscayne Yacht Club, FL, USA), Bernat Gali (Coral Reef Yacht Club, FL, USA), Kate McDonald (STYC, USVI), Gonzalo Pollitzer (Club Nautico San Isidro, Argentina), Agustin Resano (STYC, USVI), Manny Resano (California Yacht Club, CA, USA), and Esteban Rocha (Fort Lauderdale Yacht Club, FL, USA).

The one-day TOTE Team Racing Championships took place on June 16. Out of over a dozen teams, the winner was Team CRYC Spectra. Team members were Will Barnhart, Kayla Benesch, Brayden Zawyer, and Sophie De Leon Urban.

Strong Sponsor Support

New in 2022, winners in the Red, Blue, and White Championship fleets received signature Virgin Islands’-styled Lite Up Watches from Cardow Jewelers, each in coordinated Red, Blue, and White colors. The water-resistant timepieces feature a silicon band, flashlight, light-up feature, and an outline of all three U.S. Virgin Islands on the face.

The IOR is sponsored by TOTE Maritime, Cardow Jewelers, K3 Waterproof Gear, Mountain Top, MSI Building Supplies, St. Thomas Restaurant Group, and the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism.

The IOR is sanctioned by the Caribbean Sailing Association.

This year’s event followed an eco-friendly theme. Sailors were encouraged to recycle all plastic water bottles, use the reusable water bottle in the goodie bag throughout the regatta, keep all lunch bags and wrapping out of the water, pick up any trash on shore and accept drinks without straws.

For more information, call (408) 314-7119, or Email: Or, for the Notice of Regatta (NOR), Results, and other information, visit the St. Thomas Yacht Club website at or Regatta Network:

Please also visit the International Optimist Regatta on Social Media!


New founders Trophy Honoring top Female Sailors- International Optimist Regatta, St. Thomas, US. Virgin Island – June 13-19, 2022

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. A new perpetual trophy will be introduced at the 2022 International Optimist Regatta (IOR), set for June 13-19, at the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC). The Founders Trophy serves as an inspiration to honor past and promote present and future participation in the event by female sailors. The new trophy is the brainchild of two of the event’s five founders, Henry and Fredelle Menin, who started the IOR in 1993 with fellow co-founders Verian Tuttle, Karen Paige, and the late Bruce Marshall. The IOR is today widely recognized as jump-starting Optimist sailing in the Caribbean, the result of which is that thousands of the region’s youth have learned to sail. IOR past participants, both female and male, have moved on to make waves in the Olympics, America’s Cup, Match Racing, and one-design national and international championships. The IOR’s new Founders Trophy is in step with efforts by World Sailing to promote gender equality in all aspects of the sport.

“Promoting women in sailing has always been a high priority for my wife and me,” says Menin, a long-time STYC member, past Commodore, avid racer, and race committee member. “When I was campaigning my various racing boats here in the Caribbean, we always made sure that we had women on our crew. They were instrumental and essential to the success we had. When I became active in match racing, and when I chaired the Match Racing Committee for World Sailing, I helped develop the Women’s Match Racing Tour, and subsequently, we got Women’s Match Racing into the Olympics in 2012. So, women in sailing, and the encouragement of their participation, have always been near and dear to our hearts.”

In St. Thomas, adds Menin, at STYC, and particularly at the IOR, many young women have gotten their start in racing. Many of these women moved on to high school and college racing, on to major national and international regattas, and of course, with our own Mayumi Roller and Nikki Barnes, on to the Olympics.

“Though the IOR has honored and recognized the best female sailor for many years, there has never been a permanent trophy to memorialize their achievement.

Fredelle and I seek to change that by presenting this trophy to the STYC, named The Founders Trophy, for the five of us who started this regatta,” says Menin.

The new Founders Trophy will be presented starting this year, and each year forward, to the best female sailor at the IOR. In addition, the winner’s name will be engraved in a perpetual version of the trophy, thus adding that young women’s name to the list of outstanding women whose names are already engraved.

The 2022 IOR kicks off with the TOTE Clinic, June 13-15; followed by the TOTE Team Race on June 16; and the IOR from 17-19, 2022. Currently, over 100 sailors are registered with females representing over one-quarter of the fleet. These young women include Florida’s Elizabeth Xydas, who is one of the team members representing the USA at the European Optimist Champions, July 30-August 6, in Denmark. Three of the five USVI team members representing the territory at the Optimist World Championships, June 27-July 7, in Bodrum Turkey, are female: Audrey Zimmerman, Emma Walters, and Mariana Brunt.

The IOR is sponsored by TOTE Maritime, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, K3 Waterproof Gear, Cardow Jewelers, and MSI Building Supplies.

For more information, call (408) 314-7119, or Email: Or, for the Notice of Regatta (NOR), Registration Form, and other information, visit the St. Thomas Yacht Club website at or Regatta Network:

Please also visit the International Optimist Regatta on Social Media!

The SMYC hosted a very successful Global Women’s Sailing Festival on Ascension Day.

May 30, 2022 – Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten

The Sint Maarten Yacht Club colored pink on Ascension day, May 26th, as 60 women and girls tried out sailing and Paddleboard Pilates! After last year’s success, the Sint Maarten Yacht Club decided to participate again in the Global Women’s Sailing Festival ‘Steering the Course’, an international initiative by World Sailing that aims to introduce women and girls across the globe to the sport of sailing.
Thanks to the sponsorship of Bob Hilbert Sportswear all participants got a free ‘She Sails’ pink rash guard.

This year the event was hosted at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, a great vibe with the opportunity to be active and try out sailing or Paddleboard Pilates, but as well relax on the dock, catch up with friends, enjoy some drinks facilitated by the Divico and Heineken 0.0% tent on the dock, or listen to some music.

“We were so happy to see a great turnout again! It shows us that there is a great interest from woman and girls in watersports and sailing.” Said Saskia Revelman, event manager at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.

15 assistant sailing instructors (14 girls and 1 boy), all part of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club Sailing School Program, took the participants out for a try out sail in a RS Quest, RS Zest or the Sun Fast 20 that was made available by the Maritime School of the West Indies.
At the same time Niki from Joga hosted two blocks of Paddleboard Pilates, which basically is Pilates exercise on a paddleboard on the water, fun guaranteed. A real challenge for your balance for your core, but the participants did great! This is something the Yacht Club and Joga would like to offer again so stay tuned for more information.

“The purpose of the day was to introduce women to sailing, and it was wonderful to see such interest and happy faces as women came off the boats. It was great to see how everybody was willing to help each other, young and old, experienced or not experienced, all girls and women came together! Of course, we hope to see a lot of women back at more Yacht Club activities or Sailing Classes” Revelman Continued.

Are you interested in sailing more after you have participated in the Women’s Sail? Join our Wednesday Evening Sail, in the summer. On June 22, 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27 and August 3 the instructors will take you out sailing, you don’t need sailing experience. Find more information on

Or contact any of our sailing instructors for more information about Adult Sailing Classes or private classes.

For photos and much more check out

Hope-Ross Series concluded with 27 teams competing in shifty wind conditions

The Grant Thornton Dinghy Season Championship consists out of 4 race series and 1 standalone event, the National Championships, which is to take place on June 4th and will conclude the Season Championships. The Hope-Ross Series was the final 2-day Series in the Championships and saw again a fantastic turnout with 27 teams competing in five classes this past Saturday, with participants from St. Barts, Friar’s Bay and the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.

The racing took place in the Simpson Bay Lagoon to the South-East of the causeway Bridge. Race Committee started 3 races for the teams. The conditions were shifty, not an uncommon feature in the Lagoon, which made it all about tactics and reading the wind properly.

10 sailors competed in the Laser Class, of which 7 competed on the two days that made up the Hope-Ross Series. The top 3 didn’t change from Day 1, even though Frits Bus and Lolie Oswald brought excellent competition this past Saturday claiming some of the top positions. Due to them only racing the second day of the series, the overall winners of the Series were Emma Lennox in third in a Laser 4.7 and Jules Fortunati and Justin Pieterse again ended in a tie on first and second place. Whereas Pieterse took the win on day 1 of the Series, Fortunati took the overall win in the Series.

“The Laser Class has become extremely competitive this season and grown with the attendance of St Barts Yacht Club and Club de Voile de Friar’s Bay. The racing was very close and a pleasure to watch.” Stated Sam Peeks, Racing Coach at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.

The Optimist Class saw 10 sailors compete, with 8 competitors who sailed both race days. The participants from St. Barts and Club de Voile de Friar’s Bay dominated the fleet, with Corentine Corroy in third place and Thomas Magras in second with only a two-point difference against Sarah Michaux, who took 3 straight bullets on Saturday’s race claiming first place.

“On day one of the Hope Ross Series, 7-year-old Axel van den Eynde from Sint Maarten, competed in his first race and it was good to see he continued this weekend. He also got his friend Rylan Benjamin excited about racing, for whom it was his first-time racing in the Dinghy Series and is showing great potential. He only started sailing lessons in September and for him to already participate in racing is fantastic progress.” Continued Peeks.

This weekend only 2 teams competed in the RS Quest fleet, which were both teams from St. Barts. Antonin and Luca and their crew from the St. Barths Yacht Club enjoyed some close racing. Sam Peeks, who wasn’t able to compete on the second day, ended in third place. Luca and crew in second place and Antonin took a convincing first place with 4 firsts over 7 races.

In the RS Zest class 4 teams competed, from which 2 teams sailed on both days. Clarice Darling, who also raced on the first day, had to race her brother Henry Darling, who showed no mercy and took three bullets. Her friend Filippa Vriezen competed again and raced strong, trading places with Clarice Darling every race. Henry came in third place, Clarice second and Filippa a first place overall in the RS Zest Class for the Series.

Robbie Ferron and his crew participated in a Sunfast 20 and won this class.

The National Championships, the final race in the Grant Thornton Dinghy Season Championships is taking place on June 4th. This will also be the moment when the overall winners of the Dinghy Championships will be announced.

Results, photos and much more can be found at

Team Budget Marine wins first Diam 24 Grand Prix Race Day in Great Bay hosted by Sint Maarten Yacht

Together with the Diam 24 class representative, Pierre Altier, the Sint Maarten Yacht Club hosted the first Diam 24 Grand Prix Race Day in Great Bay last Sunday. The Diam 24 is a one design sport boat, simple and accessible for all, that allows people to discover multihull racing. To continue growing the current 5-boat fleet in St. Maarten and increase the local interest, 10 teams from the Marine Industry were invited to participate in this invite only event. A total of seven races were sailed, with Team Budget Marine as the ultimate winner.

Originally planned as a try-out event, the competitive nature of the invited participants turned Sunday’s event into a proper Grand Prix where the thrill of these fast-paced racing trimarans was fueled by the excitement of the sailors. Each boat had an experienced Diam 24 sailor on it and 2 or 3 sailors from the respective companies. The experienced sailor was helping aboard, however not allowed to helm, giving the participants an opportunity to experience all aspects of racing the Diams.

Teams represented were the Tropical Sail Loft, Budget Marine, Island Water World, the Maritime School of the West Indies, Club de Voile de Friar’s Bay, MDA (secondary school in Marigot), Arawak Sailing, a youth and staff team from the Sint Maarten Yacht Club and the 12 Meters association. After the initial instructions regarding the Diam 24 and the racing of that day, the 5 Diam’s left the dock with the first teams to race. Sailing catamaran Mojito was used as the committee boat for the day and accommodated the other teams to watch the racing while awaiting their race time.

Wind conditions were perfect for those unexperienced sailing these fast-racing trimarans, at 12 knots with gusts up to 18. A windward leeward course was set with a gate at either end, making it a tactical racecourse forcing the sailors to locate the best wind conditions. Race committee started fleet A, consisting of SMYC Youth Team, Team Arawak, Team Budget Marine, Team Maritime School of the West Indies and the 12 Meters Team, on 2 races to conclude the first 2 finalists of the semi-finals.

At the first start it was clear that most participants were not used to racing on trimarans, as most boats carefully approached the line. Except for one team, Team Arawak being the only one having extensive experience on their 52ft racing catamaran, who came in hot and sailed the Diam 24 as if they had done it for years. Their enthusiasm showed in them taking the lead quickly after the start, flying one hull high out of the water most of the race. At one point they got hit by a heavy gust resulting in them nose diving into the wave, no bother for this team as they continued with big smiles on their faces. They gave it their all, but it just wasn’t enough with two third places. With the first two races concluded, the SMYC Youth Team and Team Budget Marine went on to the semi-finals with two first places for Budget Marine and two second places for the SMYC Youth Team.

“I hadn’t raced in over 5 years, however after watching the first 5 teams race, I couldn’t wait to get out there myself. Once on the boat I was surprised at how stable these boats remain, even with one hull out of the water, you just want to keep pushing to go faster! This is truly a boat anyone can and should race. I was lucky to have Sam Peeks as our helmsman, who I know is a very talented dinghy sailor, but to see him just grab the tiller of this multihull and race it brilliantly, was amazing to see. I will definitely race more often on these boats.” Said Michele Korteweg, General Manager at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club participating in the SMYC Staff Team.

Fleet B, consisting of Team Island Water World, Team Tropical Sail Loft, the SMYC Staff Team, Club de Voile Friar’s Bay and Team MDA, continued to show that anything can change at any time of the race. The SMYC Staff Team got across the starting line first and kept the lead after rounding the first mark, after which it all went downhill on that race for them as they struggled with the downwind leg. Looking as if they were going to come in dead last, on the final leg they managed to catch the wind and finished seconds ahead of Team Tropical Sail loft. In the second race the SMYC Staff Team got the hang of the boat and by jibing around the windward mark they got into clean, strong winds on the opposite side of the course, a strategy that paid off as they finished in first place. In the meantime, a close battle took place between Team Island Water World, Club de Voile de Friar’s Bay and Team MDA, all Melges 24 sailors. It was amazing to see how quickly monohull sailors became pros at sailing these 24ft trimarans. Team MDA was the stronger team with a first and second place, taking one of the semi-final spots, one point ahead of the SMYC Staff Team.

The semi finals saw very close racing between the 4 teams, but quickly it became clear that Team Budget Marine and Team MDA were close rivals and sailed ahead of the fleet in a battle for first and second place. Team SMYC Youth and SMYC Staff had their own battle, students vs instructors. Without causing for much embarrassment, as the SMYC Staff Team won third place overall, putting Team Budget Marine and Team MDA in the final.

Race committee decided on a double lap for the final race. As Team Budget Marine and Team MDA started, the race committee allowed the rest of the fleet to join in one more unofficial start 2 minutes after the finalists crossed the start line. It was a neck and neck race for Team Budget Marine and Team MDA all the way to the finish line where Team Budget Marine only finished seconds ahead of Team MDA, making them the overall winner of the first Diam 24 Grand Prix.

Prize giving was hosted back ashore where the appreciation from all participants was expressed as boat owners and experienced captains made this event reality. The event couldn’t have happened without Pierre Altier, who has been the main motivation behind the Diam 24 class.

“It was a fantastic Diam 24 Day in Great Bay! So many talented sailors took this first Diam 24 Grand Prix to a spectacular level of sailing. This day made obvious that the Diam 24 is a perfect boat for the Caribbean Regattas. Economical, fast and, robust, this one design class trimaran is the easiest way to sail at 20 knots. Build your team, get your boat, and take part into the Diam 24 history on Saint Martin – Sint Maarten.” Concluded Pierre Altier, Diam 24 class representative of the Caribbean.

For more information, photos, results and much more about the Diam 24 Grand Prix visit

Pictures by Robert Luckock

About the Sint Maarten Yacht Club:

Established in 1980 with the goal to promote sailing on the island of St Maarten. It organizes multiple sailing events throughout the year, with the St Maarten Heineken Regatta as its crown jewel. A youth sailing program stimulates local youngsters to become part of the sailing community, teaching them life skills like team work, perseverance and confidence. Always looking to further develop sailing on St Maarten, the Club is active in promoting the sport, as well as the beautiful destination it is located at. For more information visit

About the Diam 24s

This season the Diam 24 fleet was introduced to St. Maarten by Pierre Altier. Starting with 3 boats in the Caribbean Multihull Challenge, within months, 2 more were acquired and raced as a 5-boat class in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Racing continued in the monthly Grant Thornton Keelboat Series and at Voile de St. Barts, really making strides for this one design trimaran class in the Caribbean.

Governor General awards Hartmut Holtmann with Faithful and Meritorious Award for 30 years of service to the yachting industry

His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams, Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, has bestowed a richly deserving honour on one of the most devoted supporters of the country’s successful yachting industry.

Hartmut Holtmann recently became the recipient of the Governor General’s Faithful and Meritorious Service Medal Award for his outstanding contribution to the development of the yachting sector.

Through various endeavours in the yacht chartering business, Mr. Holtmann has almost singlehandedly brought thousands of visitors from mainly Germany and across Europe to Antigua and Barbuda to enjoy the thrill and lure of sailing around the island’s beautiful coastline.

The annual Antigua Sailing Week, which ended on Friday, has been one of the most significant beneficiaries of Mr. Holtmann’s interest and love for Antigua and Barbuda.

The beginnings were quite humble at best in 1992 when his yacht charter company, KH+P, explored the bold venture of bringing sailing interests to Antigua. Eight crews were assembled and travelled to Antigua to participate in the 25th edition of Antigua Sailing Week.

The numbers grew steadily over the years and quickly ballooned to an amazing 40 different crews by the 30th installment of the annual sailing regatta. Mr. Holtmann is a familiar face around the Nelson’s Dockyard where many of his chartered vessels fill the docks every year.

The National Parks Authority therefore takes special delight in congratulating him on the award and for his remarkable contribution to the yachting sector.

“Up to and including ASW 2022, Hartmut has brought more than 550 boats and 3500 sailors to Antiguan shores – just for ASW, and that does not include the Karibik Trophy, a cruising event he organizes around the region, which through the years has also come to Antigua in November,” noted the Parks Commissioner Ann Marie Martin. This does not include the numerous travel writers, journalists and television crews that he has been able to successfully encourage to travel to Antigua to provide coverage of the destination and its stunning yachting conditions.
For all this and more, Mrs. Martin noted, he is certainly more than deserving of this prestigious award and our sincerest wishes that his relationship with our beautiful island continues to blossom in the years to come.

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© Caribbean Sailing Association 2018