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HIGH SPIRITS, QUIRKY WINDS FOR LASER REGATTA

Jan. 6, 2002 – Rounding the leeward pin in first place, St. Thomas's Christine Thompson knew close competitor Sarah Swan was tight on her heels. "I had to cover her all the way up to the finish," Thompson would say afterward of the St. John teen-ager.
Across Cowpet Bay on St. Thomas's East End, five-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year and guest regatta coach Betsy Alison watched the action intently from the spectator boat. "Tack, tack, tack … now!" Alison said aloud to herself.
But, blocked by Thompson, Swan overshot the tack for the layline to the finish, thus allowing the St. Thomas sailor to win the last race of the Veuve Clicquot Women's Laser Regatta.
However, that wasn't the end of the story. As was the case for many other positions fought for in this highly competitive regatta, Swan ultimately triumphed in a three-level-deep tiebreaker that won her first place in the Radial Laser Singles.
Postponed from November in part because of conflict over the minimum age of competitors, the Jan. 4-6 regatta attracted 25 teen-agers and women representing St. Thomas and St. John. "We have a good turnout considering the hasty change," regatta director Verian Aguilar said. "It's great to see all the college kids home from school and able to compete."
Conditions that ranged from dead calm to a fierce bluster across the windward-leeward courses proved challenging as the sailors competed in four classes: Standard Laser Singles, Radial Laser Singles, Senior Doubles and Junior Doubles. Yet, the caliber of competition was evident from small number of "turtled," or flipped, boats, despite a stiff wind, tandem sailing upwind and downwind, near bumper-car starts, tight-packed mark roundings, and successive finishes that were sometimes so fast it was hard to see who was in first.
Some of the keenest competition of the eight-race series came in the Standard Laser Singles, won via a tiebreaker by St. Thomas's Meaghan Firestone. "I haven't been on a Laser for two years, but I think three semesters of sailing on the College of Charleston's team really helped me," said Firestone, a December graduate with a business administration and hospitality degree.
She and fellow St. Thomas sailor Kelly O'Brien finished with 14 points for the event. Both also had the same number of first-place finishes; however, Firestone had a greater number of seconds, which earned her the win.
Likewise in the Radial Laser Singles, both Swan and Thompson scored 15 points and had a like number of first-place finishes. Swan's two second-place finishes gave the St. John teen-ager the win over Thompson.
The dynamic duo of O'Brien and Meaghan Firestone won the Senior Doubles on yet another tie-breaker. This time they and the team of St. Thomas's Ashley Clark and Jennifer Firestone both scored 11 points, but the Clark-Firestone duo had fewer first-place finishes.
In the Junior Doubles, O'Brien and St. Thomas's Lauren Probyn handily won two points ahead of St. Thomas's Sophie Newbold and Aguilar.
Watching the race action from on shore, Dee Spear, one of the originators of the event some 16 years ago, confided that the older she grew, the smaller the Lasers appeared. "We began the event when all the guys started sailing Lasers and we girls wanted to have our fun, too," Spear recalled. "This is heartwarming to see. Girls that were only babies when we started are now out sailing, and those that were young girls are now grown women with daughters of their own."
From that first regatta, sailed on Mother's Day i 1986, flowers and champagne have always been a part of the event, Spear noted. Veuve Clicquot Champagne and Evian water, both distributed by Bellows International, are long-time sponsors of the event.
During the awards ceremony, Alison summarized the spirit of the event: "It's so nice to see such a positive atmosphere and all the encouragement," she said. "It's exciting to be a part of it. There's a sense of camaraderie that's unique at an event like this, and a great chance to learn, as well as experience a sense of recreation and positive physical challenge. It's a win-win situation."
Results
Standard Laser Singles
1. Meaghan Firestone
2. Kelly O'Brien
3. Ashley Clark
4. Cat Taylor
5. Jennifer Firestone
6. Jennifer Robinson
7. Diane Holmberg
Radial Laser Singles
1. Sarah Swan
2. Christine Thompson
3. Emily Newbold
4. Verian Aguilar
5. Carlyn Wesley
6. Valerie Trahan
7. Callie Burks
8. Robin Pitts
9. Karen Rice
10. Joyce Bailey
11. Sybille Sorrentino
Senior Doubles
1. Kelly O'Brien and Meaghan Firestone
2. Ashley Clark and Jennifer Firestone
3. Emily Newbold and Carlyn Wesley
4. Echo Bachschmid and Chutney Mohler
5. Cat Taylor and Robin Pitts
6. Karen Rice and Joyce Bailey
Junior Doubles
1. Lauren Probyn and Kelly O'Brien
2. Sophie Newbold and Verian Aguilar
3. Sarah Swan and Callie Burks
4. Cameron Probyn and Meaghan Firestone
5. Valerie Trahan and Kaitlyn Bertolino
6. Chelsea Meyer and Jennifer Robinson

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Jan. 6, 2002 - Rounding the leeward pin in first place, St. Thomas's Christine Thompson knew close competitor Sarah Swan was tight on her heels. "I had to cover her all the way up to the finish," Thompson would say afterward of the St. John teen-ager.
Across Cowpet Bay on St. Thomas's East End, five-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year and guest regatta coach Betsy Alison watched the action intently from the spectator boat. "Tack, tack, tack ... now!" Alison said aloud to herself.
But, blocked by Thompson, Swan overshot the tack for the layline to the finish, thus allowing the St. Thomas sailor to win the last race of the Veuve Clicquot Women's Laser Regatta.
However, that wasn't the end of the story. As was the case for many other positions fought for in this highly competitive regatta, Swan ultimately triumphed in a three-level-deep tiebreaker that won her first place in the Radial Laser Singles.
Postponed from November in part because of conflict over the minimum age of competitors, the Jan. 4-6 regatta attracted 25 teen-agers and women representing St. Thomas and St. John. "We have a good turnout considering the hasty change," regatta director Verian Aguilar said. "It's great to see all the college kids home from school and able to compete."
Conditions that ranged from dead calm to a fierce bluster across the windward-leeward courses proved challenging as the sailors competed in four classes: Standard Laser Singles, Radial Laser Singles, Senior Doubles and Junior Doubles. Yet, the caliber of competition was evident from small number of "turtled," or flipped, boats, despite a stiff wind, tandem sailing upwind and downwind, near bumper-car starts, tight-packed mark roundings, and successive finishes that were sometimes so fast it was hard to see who was in first.
Some of the keenest competition of the eight-race series came in the Standard Laser Singles, won via a tiebreaker by St. Thomas's Meaghan Firestone. "I haven't been on a Laser for two years, but I think three semesters of sailing on the College of Charleston's team really helped me," said Firestone, a December graduate with a business administration and hospitality degree.
She and fellow St. Thomas sailor Kelly O'Brien finished with 14 points for the event. Both also had the same number of first-place finishes; however, Firestone had a greater number of seconds, which earned her the win.
Likewise in the Radial Laser Singles, both Swan and Thompson scored 15 points and had a like number of first-place finishes. Swan's two second-place finishes gave the St. John teen-ager the win over Thompson.
The dynamic duo of O'Brien and Meaghan Firestone won the Senior Doubles on yet another tie-breaker. This time they and the team of St. Thomas's Ashley Clark and Jennifer Firestone both scored 11 points, but the Clark-Firestone duo had fewer first-place finishes.
In the Junior Doubles, O'Brien and St. Thomas's Lauren Probyn handily won two points ahead of St. Thomas's Sophie Newbold and Aguilar.
Watching the race action from on shore, Dee Spear, one of the originators of the event some 16 years ago, confided that the older she grew, the smaller the Lasers appeared. "We began the event when all the guys started sailing Lasers and we girls wanted to have our fun, too," Spear recalled. "This is heartwarming to see. Girls that were only babies when we started are now out sailing, and those that were young girls are now grown women with daughters of their own."
From that first regatta, sailed on Mother's Day i 1986, flowers and champagne have always been a part of the event, Spear noted. Veuve Clicquot Champagne and Evian water, both distributed by Bellows International, are long-time sponsors of the event.
During the awards ceremony, Alison summarized the spirit of the event: "It's so nice to see such a positive atmosphere and all the encouragement," she said. "It's exciting to be a part of it. There's a sense of camaraderie that's unique at an event like this, and a great chance to learn, as well as experience a sense of recreation and positive physical challenge. It's a win-win situation."
Results
Standard Laser Singles
1. Meaghan Firestone
2. Kelly O'Brien
3. Ashley Clark
4. Cat Taylor
5. Jennifer Firestone
6. Jennifer Robinson
7. Diane Holmberg
Radial Laser Singles
1. Sarah Swan
2. Christine Thompson
3. Emily Newbold
4. Verian Aguilar
5. Carlyn Wesley
6. Valerie Trahan
7. Callie Burks
8. Robin Pitts
9. Karen Rice
10. Joyce Bailey
11. Sybille Sorrentino
Senior Doubles
1. Kelly O'Brien and Meaghan Firestone
2. Ashley Clark and Jennifer Firestone
3. Emily Newbold and Carlyn Wesley
4. Echo Bachschmid and Chutney Mohler
5. Cat Taylor and Robin Pitts
6. Karen Rice and Joyce Bailey
Junior Doubles
1. Lauren Probyn and Kelly O'Brien
2. Sophie Newbold and Verian Aguilar
3. Sarah Swan and Callie Burks
4. Cameron Probyn and Meaghan Firestone
5. Valerie Trahan and Kaitlyn Bertolino
6. Chelsea Meyer and Jennifer Robinson