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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesYouth Regatta Gives New Sailors a Taste for Racing

Youth Regatta Gives New Sailors a Taste for Racing

Twenty brand new V.I. sailors got their first taste of racing in the School Challenge Youth Regatta Saturday. Photo courtesy of Dean Barnes.Helping to nurture local youth sailing, Carlos Aguilar Match Racing Regatta organizers set an example this weekend for other accomplished sailors to give back to their communities, while making a fun experience for sailing newbies and veterans alike.
Local school students were treated to a chance to race real raceboats on Saturday, on the same waters as the world class racers who competed in the Carlos Aguilar Match Racing Regatta. The School Challenge Youth Regatta, created by John Holmberg of OnDeck Ocean Racing and match racing regatta organizer Verian Aguilar brought four teams of middle and high school students to race in a battle for bragging rights. In the end it was In the Mix, a team of students from all over St. Thomas, winning the regatta in a competitive finish.
Twenty high school and middle school students, ages 12 to 18, got an hour of sailing instruction aboard four of OnDeck Ocean Racings’ Farr 40s, before the race. Instructors and crew stayed aboard during the race, but it was the six students aboard trimming, grinding and making roll tacks.
While In the Mix represented several schools, other teams represented groups from HYPE (Helping Young People Excel), the Environmental Rangers from Addelita Cancryn Junior High School and the Charlotte Amalie JROTC.
Racing just off the waterfront, the teams were close enough to hear the cheering from friends and families in the bleachers set up on the waterfront.
HYPE led the race early, but JROTC challenged and gained the lead. HYPE, keeping the pressure on JROTC, stayed close, while In the Mix took advantage of a couple of puffs and led the second chase to the leeward mark.
In the final leg, In The Mix maintained the lead, followed closely over the finish with HYPE and JROTC close behind, and Environmental Rangers following just a little behind the three.
In the Mix included Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School’s Arnold Guildarie and Shaquan Holder, Charlotte Amalie High’s Lurenzo Scotland and Schawandai George from Cancryn.
In the stands, Jovanna Quammie and Clothilda Quammie-Fahie rooted for Jovanna’s big brother, Hakeem, a freshman at CAHS.
Quammie-Fahie said it was Hakeem’s first time sailing, but that he is an excellent swimmer.
“It is a very cool experience,” Quammie-Fahie said. “This is something that will broaden his horizons. I think that my son will be good at anything he does.”
Created by Aguilar, a resource teacher at Antilles School, and Holmberg, who also happens to be the brother of Peter Holmberg (the match racing regatta’s open division champion), the School Challenge was designed to provide a real sailboat racing experience on a genuinely fast race boat.
Most of the kids had never sailed before, Aguilar said.
The Maseratis of the sailboat world, the Farr 40s are fast indeed, used in one-design racing all over the globe. They’re also about as expensive as a Maserati— each worth more than $250,000.
Fostering youth sailing will help to continue bringing more Virgin Islanders to the sport, which they dominated this weekend in the Match Racing Regatta. Of the top four finishers this weekend, two were from the territory and one was from the British Virgin Islands.
"You never know where it could lead," John Holmberg said of the youth regatta, which was sponsored by the Carlos Aguilar Match Racing Regatta, OnDeck Ocean Racing and Trident Jewels and Time.

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