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USA’s Montagu Wins 31st International Optimist Regatta

Getting good starts, especially in light wind conditions, led the USA’s Alexander Montagu to win the 31st International Optimist Regatta (IOR), hosted at the St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC), June 14-16.

Thirteen-year-old Montagu, who races out of both California’s San Francisco Yacht Club and Florida’s Coral Reef Yacht Club (CRYC), was one of 104 sailors from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, several USA states, Canada, and Germany who competed in this three-day regatta in 8-foot, single-sail Optimist dinghies where conditions averaged 8- to 12-knots of breeze under sunny skies, according to the press release.

Overall and Red Fleet Winner, Alexander Montagu, USA. (Photo by Matias Capizzano)

THE WINNERS

The top three sailors overall in the 2024 IOR were Montagu first, Florida’s CRYC’s Connor Karr second, and Puerto Rico’s Club Nautico de San Juan’s (CNSJ) Diego Delgado third, the press release stated 

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

Puerto Rico’s Diego Delgado, Blue Fleet Winner. (Photo by Matias Capizzano)

“The light wind was a challenge for me, but it helped that I was able to get good starts and then continue to stay ahead,” said Montagu, a member of the US Optimist Dinghy Association’s National Team, who will also compete at the Optimist North American Championships (OPTINAM) next month in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the Optimist World Championships in December in Mar del Plata, Argentina. “Learning how to deal with the seaweed will help me at the OPTINAMs.”

Concentration and a positive mindset proved key to Delgado’s win in the 11- to 12-year-old Blue Fleet, the release stated.

“The mind is the most important thing in sailing. If you get angry because someone beat you in a race, it takes away from your focus on the sailing. I needed to focus my mind, especially in the light wind today,” said Delgado, age 12. “This regatta helped me to realize I’m a pretty good sailor. I did qualify to represent Puerto Rico in the OPTINAMs a few months ago but didn’t sail well in our qualifier. Now I know I have the potential to do well.”

Top Female Sailor, USVI’s Avery Pearsall. (Photo by Matias Capizzano)

The USVI’s St. Thomas Yacht Club’s Avery Pearsall, also in the Blue Fleet, finished as the IOR’s Top Female Sailor, a position that earns Pearsall her name inscribed in the perpetual Founders Trophy.

“I felt confident today in the light wind because I’m small. My goal was top three overall or top female,” said Pearsall, 12, who finished 5th overall. “The IOR also gave me good practice on a large start line, and that will help for the OPTINAMs.”

The USA’s Francisco Don, second from left, is the White Fleet Winner. (Photo by Matias Capizzano)

Francisco Don, 10, representing Florida’s CRYC, finished first in the age 10- and under White Fleet, the release stated. 

“I tried to get a lot of speed on the starts and then watch the puffs and get as much pressure (wind) as I could,” said Don, who sailed the IOR in 2022 and 2023 in the Beginner Green Fleet.

This year’s IOR’s Green Fleet winner was 11-year-old Levi Hibbs, representing Florida’s CRYC, the release stated. 

“I tried to point as high as I could to go as fast as possible,” said Hibbs, who started racing less than a year ago. “Good starts were important. My strategy was to start accelerating 7 seconds before the starting horn and then head up to get the most wind.”

The USA’s Levi Hibbs, Green Fleet Winner. (Photo by Matias Capizzano)

Additional awards included the Peter Ives’ Perpetual Trophy, won by Montagu, and the Chuck Fuller Sportsmanship Perpetual Trophy, earned by the USVI’s STYC sailor, Will Zimmerman, the release stated. 

Both Ives and Fuller participated in early IORs at the invitation of STYC’s Henry Menin, one of the regatta’s founders, it said. 

“Pete was a former Long Beach Yacht Club commodore, international judge, and umpire I invited to officiate at the IOR. That first year, we had about 13 boats. I asked Pete what he thought, and he said, ‘Henry, you’ve got a tiger by the tail.’ Today, 31 years later, I am so proud of how this event has grown,” said Menin,

RESULTS

TOP 5 FINISHERS BY FLEET

Name, Yacht Club, Country, Points

 RED FLEET

1. Alexander Montagu, SFYC/CRYC, USA (16)

2. Connor Karr, CRYC, USA (28)

3. Isabel Rivera Fernandez, CNSJ, PR (59)

4. Cassady Lorentzen, Balboa YC/BCYC, USA (65)

5. Howard Zimmerman, STYC, USVI (70)

 BLUE FLEET

1. Diego Delgado, CNSJ, PR (28T)

2. Wills Gandy, CRYC, USA (28T)

3. Avery Pearsall, STYC, USVI (36)

4. Thomas Weidner, Germany (51)

5. Finn Hodgins, STYC, USVI (58)

 WHITE FLEET

1. Francisco Don, CRYC, USA (86)

2. Jonah Watson, US Sailing Center Martin County, USA (104)

3. William Weidner, SPYC, USA (147)

4. Lucas Christiansen, CNSJ, PR (157)

5. Weston Bowie, SPYC, USA (209)

GREEN FLEET

1. Levi Hibbs, CRYC, USA (47)

2. Ivan Riano Jr., CRYC, USA (54)

3. Christopher Fulton Jr., CRYC, USA (64)

4. Kip Hodgins, STYC, USVI (93)

5. Isla Chin, BBYC, USA (127)

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