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International Optimist Regatta began Friday (21)

dlb01918941msBy Carol Bareuther (special to The Daily News)

ST. THOMAS – More than 100 7- to 15-year-olds set sail in the 21st International Optimist Regatta, presented by Glacial Energy, Friday through Sunday. This marks the second year in a row that the event has surpassed the 100-participant mark.

What’s more, a record 79 sailors competed in the pre-regatta Sea Star Clinic from Monday to Wednesday, and 13 teams raced in the Sea Star Team Racing Championships on Thursday. Increased interest in junior sailing in the Caribbean, combined with the event’s prominence worldwide, has enabled the regatta to grow into one of the largest junior sailing events in the territory and the Caribbean.

images“The clinic was really good for us Virgin Islands sailors because we don’t usually get to practice with over 50 boats on the start line,” said St. Thomas’ Chris Murphy, one of five members of Team ISV, who will represent the territory this summer at the IODA World Championships in Riva del Garda, Italy.

The Sea Star Clinic, run by top local coaches and international coaches from, drilled the sailors on starts, tactics and strategy.

international-optimist-regatta“It was good to get a different point of view or cross-train with the visiting coaches,” said St. Thomas’ Scott McKenzie, also a member of Team ISV with Murphy, Paige Clarke from St. John, Ryan Hunter from St. Croix, and Teddy Nicolosi from St. Thomas.

Thirteen teams of four sailors each took to the sea off St. Thomas’ East End to compete in the Sea Star Team Racing Championships on Thursday. At the conclusion, it was the Pilo 1 Team – made up of Mexico’s Henry Saavedra and the USA’s Romain Screve, Matt Logue and Wiley Rogers – which emerged victorious. The team was named in honor of their coach, Esteban “Pilo” Rocha. The Sea Star Perpetual Trophy will be inscribed with the names of these sailors.

Wiley Rogers, in addition to being a winning member of the Sea Star Team Race, is back to defend the regatta championship title he won in 2011.

“I’m planning to go out and try my hardest and see how it all lays out,” said the 13-year-old Rogers from Houston, Texas.

photo1Sea Star Lines has sponsored the Clinic and Team Race for six straight years.

The 21st International Optimist Regatta got under way Friday with sailors representing Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, the USA and the USVI.

In addition to the high-caliber racing, shoreside activities included Thursday night’s Parade of Nations and Welcome Party, as well as a Caribbean-themed night that includes fire blowers and a beachside barbecue and Awards Ceremony scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Trophies will be awarded to the top five finishers 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 event follows an eco-friendly theme. Sailors are 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 and pick up any trash on shore and accept drinks without straws.

Major event sponsors include Glacial Energy and Sea Star Lines as well as Gill North America.

For more information and daily results, visit or visit the International Optimist Regatta presented by Glacial Energy on Facebook.

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