St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Experience, communication and speed were the skills junior sailors on Team USA Worlds used to win the TOTE Maritime Team Racing Championships. The Championships are one of a trio of events sailed this week out of the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC) and were prefaced by the three-day TOTE Maritime Clinic and followed by the 26th International Optimist Regatta, presented by Electronic Merchant Systems (EMS) Virgin Islands, Friday through Sunday.

​Thirteen teams of five sailors each participated in the TOTE Maritime Team Racing Championships. In exciting racing, the champion title came down to a best of three contest between Team USA Worlds and the USA-based Invisicrox. Team USA Worlds, composed of Peter Foley (Coral Reef Yacht Club, Florida), Thommie Grit (Sarasota Yacht Club, Florida), Ryan Satterberg (Santa Barbara Yacht Club, California), Tommy Sitzmann (Lauderdale Yacht Club, Florida) and Stephan Baker (Lauderdale Yacht Club, Florida), took the lead immediately and held it by winning the first two races. The TOTE Maritime Perpetual Trophy will be inscribed with the names of the Team USA Worlds’ sailors.

“We’ve sailed together for so long, and have so much experience together as a team, that it was easy for us,” says Foley, age 14.

Baker, age 14, adds, “We had really good communication.”

“We are all fast sailors, so it wasn’t as much strategy as it was staying ahead,” says Grit, age 13.

Some 110 8- to 15-year-old sailors, in both championship and beginner fleets and representing five nations – the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the USA and Canada – started the week by training in the three-day TOTE Maritime Clinic held June 11 to 13. Top local and international coaches ran the Clinic.

“The biggest things I learned in the clinic were distance and time before the start and getting it better,” says St. Thomas’ Caroline Sibilly.

The clinic ended with a Volvo Ocean-style race, where sailors completed four legs around the east end of St. Thomas.

“I followed the wind, tacked back and forth and stayed ahead of the other sailors,” says St. Thomas’ Coby Fagan, age 8, who won the Beginner fleet in this race.

This is the 10th consecutive year that TOTE Maritime have sponsored both the Clinic and Team Race.

“We look forward to hosting and continue contributing to the growth of this event as well as the development of our youth sailors,” says Reinaldo Seijo, account executive, TOTE Maritime Agency USVI, Inc.

The 26th IOR/EMS gets underway Friday. The near-record 103 junior sailors are represented by 81 in the Championship and 22 in the Beginner fleet. The Championship fleet is divided into age groups: White (age 10 and under), Blue (ages 11 and 12), and Red (ages 13 to 15). The race committee plans to run 10-plus races over the next three days, depending on weather.

“I’m looking forward to getting more experience in the higher wind and waves here. It will be great practice for the (Optimist) Worlds (Championships) in Cyprus later this summer,” says Grit.

The IOR, presented by EMS Virgin Islands, is hosted by the Virgin Islands Sailing Association (VISA), sanctioned by the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA), and takes place June 15 to 17.

A Breakaway Charters boat will be available for spectating. The cost is $80 pp on Friday and Saturday and $40 pp on Sunday. Drinks and snacks provided. For information and reservations, call: (340) 775-1171

Social activities include the Parade of Nations and Welcome Party on June 14 and Father’s Day Brunch and Awards Ceremony on June 17.

Trophies will be awarded to the top five sailors in each fleet and top three overall. Additional trophies include the Peter Ives’ Perpetual Trophy, the Chuck Fuller Sportsmanship Award and the top female sailor. The Sea Star Perpetual Trophy will be inscribed with the names of the sailors on the winning team racing team. A new Perpetual Trophy, introduced last year, is inscribed with the overall winners from the past 25 years.

New this year, registered sailors can join in the TRIO Sportswear Social Media competition. To enter, all that is needed is to ‘like’ the TRIO Sportswear Facebook and Instagram pages, then post a selfie photo of the sailor wearing the neck gaiter the company provides in each entry’s registration pack along with the environmentally-friendly word’s ‘Turning the problem into the solution!’ The prize is a chance to win a Trashee-brand rash guard of the sailor’s choice and Adidas Sailing Smock Jacket valued at $150.

This year’s event will follow an eco-friendly theme. Sailors will be 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.

The IOR is sponsored by EMS Virgin Islands, TOTE Maritime, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, K3 Waterproof Gear and TRIO Sportswear.

For more information, call (340) 513-2234, Email: internationaloptiregatta@gmail.com. Or, for the Notice of Regatta, Registration Form and Results, visit the St. Thomas Yacht Club web site at www.styc.club or www.regattanetwork.com

Please also visit the International Optimist Regatta on Facebook!

About Post Author

© Caribbean Sailing Association 2018