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28th International Optimist Regatta, TOTE Clinic & TOTE Team Race kicks-off this week

by Carol Bareuther 14 Jun 08:48 BST June 14-20, 2021
St. Thomas, USVI's Tanner Krygsveld is a sailor to watch at the 2021 International Optimist Regatta © Matias Capizzano

A fleet of 8- to 15-year-old sailors from Antigua, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S.A, and U.S. Virgin Islands will race 8-foot long single-sail Optimist dinghies in the TOTE Clinic, Monday through Wednesday, the TOTE Team Race on Thursday, and the International Optimist Regatta (IOR), Friday through Sunday.

This trio of events is one of the longest-running annual little boat regattas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean. What makes it unique is the combination of instruction, team and fleet racing all in one week, which includes beginners and advanced sailors alike. Plus, like other regattas held at the St. Thomas Yacht Club earlier this year, protocols are in place for a COVID-safe event.

"We're pleased to welcome our local, regional and international sailors and their families, and look forward to sharing our ideal sailing conditions and the opportunity this event offers for our junior competitors to renew and make new friendships," says Hollis Jenkins, regatta director. "We are very proud that several past winners and participants of the IOR have gone on to become high school national champions, college All-Americans, and on the world sailing stage, first ranked match racers, one-design class world champions, Olympians and team members of America's Cup campaigns."

Two U.S. Virgin Islands sailors to especially watch this year are 14-year-old Tanner Krygsveld and 11-year-old Coby Fagan, both from St. Thomas. Krygsveld finished 5th and Fagan 40th at the Optimist North American Championships (OPTINAM), held in Mexico earlier this month.

"I'm looking forward to is racing with friends from other teams that I haven't seen in a long time because I haven't been to any regattas in over a year," says Fagen, who will race in the 11-12-year-old Blue Fleet. "My strategy is to sail fast, be in the first row on the starts, and don't focus on results."

One Caribbean regional sailor who will give Virgin Islands' sailors a race for the podium is Rogelio Casellas from Puerto Rico, who finished 4th overall at the OPTINAM.

"I think the OPTINAM prepared me for the IOR in a wise way...in setting goals and working towards them. Before that championship, I set my vision to finish in the top 5. I learned to believe more in myself and that hard work at practice pays off," says 14-year-old Casellas, who like Krygsveld, will sail in the 13- to 15-year-old Red Fleet. "For the IOR, I am mostly looking forward to sailing well and spending time and hanging out with sailor friends."

This will be the first time 14-year-old Allie Graham-Capasso, representing the Cayman Island Sailing Club, will race in the IOR.

"I am looking forward to seeing many of my friends that I know will be sailing in St Thomas. Everyone says this is the best regatta and I can't wait!" says Graham-Capasso.

Top-notch Tote Clinic

Thirteen international coaches, most of them national team coaches and some considered the best Optimist coaches in the U.S. and the world, make the TOTE clinic as instructive as it is inspirational for the participating junior sailors.

"The focus for this year's clinic will be on starts. In the Optimist fleets, starts are the most important aspect of the race. The great success of the TOTE clinic is that we have around 90 boats registered in the championship fleet. There aren't many clinics in the world with this number of boats, and it is the perfect opportunity to work on big fleet starts," says Agustin 'Argy' Resano, Team ISV coach. "Regarding the IOR itself, we always get the highest-level sailors in the US and nowadays, the US is ranked among the top 5 countries in the world for Optimist sailing. Overall, it's a great week of sailing. It's usually hard to get a clinic, team race and three-day regatta all in one week, but the Caribbean, especially St. Thomas, is one of the few places where we can accomplish this due to the great conditions."

Over a dozen teams are expected for the TOTE Team Race on Thursday, June 17.

"Once again TOTE is honored to sponsor the TOTE Clinic and the TOTE Team Race for the eleventh year. In keeping with TOTE's charitable policy, TOTE is proud to continue our sponsorship of the International Optimist Regatta 2022 for the benefit of our youth sailors," says Clarence Nibbs, Terminal Manager USVI, for TOTE Maritime.

The IOR, from June 18 to 20, is hosted by the Virgin Islands Sailing Association (VISA), sanctioned by the Caribbean Sailing Association (CSA).

An Awards Ceremony will take place on June 20.

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 in 2017, is inscribed with the overall winners from the past 27 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 the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, TOTE Maritime, and MSI.

For more information visit stthomasyachtclub.org/sailing/regattas/international-optimist-regatta

Results will be posted at www.regattanetwork.com/event/21742

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