Youth sailors at the 2013 St Thomas International Optimist Regatta.
Photo Credit: Provided
Two Royal BVI Yacht Club youth sailors secured podium finishes with several more making impressive finishes at the St Thomas International Optimist Regatta last weekend, June 21-23.
St Thomas Yacht Club in Cowpet Bay was the venue for this year´s International Optimist regatta.
BVI championship race sailors braved up to 25 knots of wind and high waves to compete with their friends from USVI, USA, Antigua, St Maarten, Cayman Islands, Nicaragua, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
The regatta, which has now grown to become the largest dinghy regatta in the Caribbean, boasted an impressive roster of 114 boats. The BVI boats were transported on the bow of a Sunsail sponsored yacht.
Of the 81 competitors in the championship fleet, BVI sailor Jason Putley, 15, pulled off an overall 7th place finish which secured his podium position of 5th place among the 31 sailors in the red fleet, aged 13-15. This is the final performance for Putley in this event and one of his last regattas in the Optimist dinghy which is the internationally recognised boats for youth sailing instruction for youths up to the age of 15.
Ten-year old sailing sensation Rayne Duff had no difficulty in ruling the roost and held the top position in white fleet (under 11-years) for the duration of the regatta to secure an impressive podium finish.
BVI´s veteran youth sailor Sam Morrell and a quietly confident Thad Lettsome both secured impressive finishes with Morrell netting a 12th place finish in red while 11-year old Thad held on to his 8th place position in the blue fleet for the 36 sailors aged 11 and 12.
Lettsome´s jaw-dropping performance when he was 10 years old last year earned him a first place finish amongst the younger white fleeters and, in spite of his promotion to the blue fleet is still a top contender amongst the older blue fleeters.
Sam Childs was the BVI sailor to watch on the Friday of racing with consistently strong and good races. Having to battle with squally conditions for the rest of the racing, Child´s placing dropped, but he was still able to hold on to a top half finish in blue at 13th place with BVI sailor James Dawson in 21st place in blue, both much improved performances from last year´s event.
The weather conditions also did not favour a physically lighter Amelie Clark, BVI´s sole girl sailor attending the event, who secured a 9th place finish in white fleet.
The size of and quality of competition at the annual St. Thomas regatta makes it a notable regatta for sailors to use as an exit regatta from the beginner fleet.
It is therefore expected to be one of the last regattas where BVI sailors, Nathan Haycraft and George Dawson, who compete in the beginner green fleet against very strong green fleeters from other countries, will compete. Haycraft started his racing with a bang having scored a first in his second race and several seconds.
George also secured a second in one of his races. Of the 33 boats competing in green Haycraft secured an 11th place finish overall and Dawson 17th place.
In July BVI sailors Jason Putley and Thad Lettsome will attend the Optimist World Championships regatta in Italy, and Rayne Duff will attend various regattas across the USA and then on the African Championships held in South Africa.
The events, though competitive, are seen as fun events that foster life-long bonds of friendships among sailors of many nations, while improving the art or sailing.