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Team USA Worlds Wins TOTE Team Racing; 26th International Optimist Regatta Begins June 15

Over 100 sailors competing in the International Optimist Regatta, presented by EMS Virgin Islands, stand in front of the St. Thomas Yacht Club. (Credit: Dean Barnes)

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), which were prefaced by the three-day TOTE Maritime Clinic and followed by the 26th International Optimist Regatta, Friday through Sunday, June 15-17. The Optimist Regatta is being sponsored by Electronic Merchant Systems (EMS) Virgin Islands.

Thirteen teams of five sailors each participated in the TOTE Maritime Team Racing Championships. In exciting racing, the 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, Fla.), Thommie Grit (Sarasota Yacht Club, Fla.), Ryan Satterberg (Santa Barbara Yacht Club, Calif.), Tommy Sitzmann (Lauderdale Yacht Club, Fla.) and Stephan Baker (Lauderdale Yacht Club, Fla.) — 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,” said Foley, age 14.

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

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

Some 110 sailors, age 8 to 15-years-old, 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,” said 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,” said St. Thomas’ Coby Fagan, age 8, who won the Beginner fleet in this race.
This is the 10th consecutive year that TOTE Maritime has 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,” said Reinaldo Seijo, account executive, TOTE Maritime Agency USVI Inc.

BVI’s Samuel Allen stands with a Mocko Jumbie in front of the St. Thomas Yacht Club. (Credit: Dean Barnes)

The 26th International Optimist Regatta (IOR)/ Electronic Merchant Systems (EMS) gets underway Friday, June 15. The near-record 103 junior sailors are represented by 81 in the Championship fleet 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,” said 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 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.

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 513-2234, email: internationaloptiregatta@gmail.com. Or, for the Notice of Regatta, Registration Form and Results, visit the St. Thomas Yacht Club website at www.styc.club or www.regattanetwork.com

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