Team BVI at the Scotiabank International Optimist Regatta
Photo Credit: Provided
Youth sailors from the BVI joined with over 100 other sailors to compete at Scotiabank's International Optimist Regatta on St. Thomas last weekend.
The regatta attracts a very high level of competition each year, but especially this year as the Optimist Worlds is scheduled to be held in the Dominican Republic in less than a month, so sailors of a top level from throughout the world decided to come early for a taste of Caribbean conditions prior to the big event.
The Worlds teams from USA, Dominican Republic, Bermuda, Antigua, St. Martin and St. Thomas were all present to compete, bringing the highest level of competition to test BVI sailors.
Jason Putley and Sam Morrell both placed in the top ten overall, a performance described as remarkable for the Red Fleet (13-15 years) sailors. James Dawson sailed for the BVI in the Blue Fleet (11-12 years) and enjoyed the tradewind conditions the regatta offered.
In the White Fleet (10 & under), Thad Lettsome finished in first place, while Rayne Duff placed Second. Also in the White Fleet sailing for BVI were Sam Childs and James Rajic-Knight.
The Green Fleet is for sailors of any age who are just starting their racing career and sails on a course in more sheltered waters; however, competitors from many countries including USA, Spain, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and more competed fiercely.
The BVI had two sailors in Green; Amalie Clark, the lone female optimist sailor and Jowan James, who placed 4th in the Green Fleet.
The annual regatta is hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club and is held every year during the third week of June when US schools are closed.
The event has been staged for the past 20 years and the BVI has sent sailors every single year; however, this time the BVI fielded a very strong turnout of nine competitors, perhaps proof of the hard work put into junior sailing programs this past year by the Royal BVI Yacht Club (RBVIYC) and their coach, Omari Scott.
Thad Lettsome on the podium after finishing first in the White Fleet at Scotiabanks International Optimist Regatta on St. Thomas.
Photo Credit: Provided
Scott has been holding regular after school sail training sessions, along with Saturday morning introductory classes and Saturday afternoon race training, which have combined to grow the number of youth sailors that represent the BVI in competitions.
"A huge effort went into preparing all of our Optimist Dinghies here in Tortola to take them over for the regatta both for our sailors to use and to rent out to other kids wanting to sail that were not able to book boats from the main charter sponsor," said Brain Duff who accompanied the team to St. Thomas.
RBVIYC members, Simon Knight and Phil Oliver prepared the boats for racing and moved them over to STYC and back again with the assistance of Omari Scott and many of the kids as well.
"The continued growth of the sport of sailing in the VI relies upon the enthusiastic support of parents and volunteers, and on getting all these kids out on the water," Duff related.
For more information about RBVIYC programs, visit www.royalbviyc.org or visit Nanny Cay Beach on any Saturday mornings at 9:00 am.