ST. THOMAS — Dialing in the right combination of scores proved the secret to success for Team USA Worlds, which won the Tote Maritime Team Racing Championships on Thursday in the waters of Cowpet Bay on the east end of St. Thomas.
The Team Racing Championships are one of two events sailed this week out of the St. Thomas Yacht Club, and kick off the 27th annual International Optimist Regatta, which begins today and runs through Sunday.
More than a dozen teams — each with five junior sailors — participated in this year’s Team Racing Championships. In exciting racing, the champion title came down to a best-of-three race contest between Team USA Worlds and the Coral Reef Yacht Club team.
Team USA Worlds won the first race and Coral Reef the second, meaning the title came down to which team won the third and final race.
In the end, Team USA Worlds proved triumphant — an incredible effort as the five sailors, all highly skilled, had never raced together before as a team.
“On that last race, we had a good start and were in the right combination,” said Team USA World member Jack Redmond, who sails with Florida’s Lauderdale Yacht Club. “The key is to have an unstoppable combination of scores. We had that in the last race.”
Other members of Team USA Worlds were Thommie Grit of Florida’s Sarasota Yacht Club, Gil Hackel of the Lauderdale Yacht Club, Samara Walshe of Massachusetts’ Edgartown Yacht Club, and Tommie Sitzmann of Virginia’s Fishing Bay Yacht Club.
“We had never sailed against the other team and didn’t know how good they were. They were pretty good,” Walshe said.
Before the Team Race Championships, however, the junior sailors started the week by training in the three-day Tote Maritime Clinic, which began Monday. Top local and international coaches ran the clinic.
“I was really able to improve in my starts. That was one of the best parts of the clinic, That, and meeting lots of new people,” said 14-year-old Julia Jacobsen, representing the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.
Jacobsen said that she and her family traveled nearly halfway around the world to St. Thomas as they felt the IOR would offer an excellent tune-up opportunity before the Optimist World Championships next month in Antigua. The clinic ended with a Volvo Ocean-style race, where sailors completed four legs around the east end of St. Thomas.
“It was like sailing four separate races because each leg was scored individually,” said St. Thomas’ Tanner Krygsveld, 12, who won the event. “Local knowledge really helped.”
Krygsveld will team with Winn Majette and Alejo Di Blasi from St. John, and Milo Miller and J.J. Klemplen from St. Croix, to represent the U.S. Virgin Islands at the Optimist Worlds.
More than 110 junior sailors, ranging in age from 7 to 15 and representing 13 nations and territories — Antigua, Argentina, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malta, Puerto Rico, the United States and all three U.S. Virgin Islands — are entered in the International Optimist Regatta.
The Championship fleet is divided into age groups: White (age 10-under), Blue (ages 11-12) and Red (ages 13-15).
The race committee plans to run 10-plus races over the next three days, depending on weather.
Trophies will be awarded to the top five sailors in each fleet and the top three overall. Additional trophies include the Peter Ives’ Perpetual Trophy, the Chuck Fuller Sportsmanship Award and the top female sailor award.
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 26 years.