Sailing Association Names Canfield Virgin Islands Sailor of the Year

Canfield and his team race inDecember's Carlos Aguilar Match Race, which they won.The V.I. Sailing Association named Taylor Canfield 2015’s Virgin Islands Sailor of the Year, the third year in a row Canfield has won the organization’s award.

VISA president Phillip Shannon said the decision was a close one.

“Olympian in the Laser class, Cy Thompson, had a good year along with Optimist sailor Teddy Nicolosi. However, Taylor’s dominance in the M32 while at the same time maintaining his number two ranking as a match racer were deciding factors,” Shannon said.

Canfield, who learned of this honor via email while en route to the World Match Racing Tour’s 2015 season finale, the Monsoon Cup, in Malaysia, said “What an honor! To even be considered for this award is incredible after seeing the number of great accomplishments of all the other sailors representing the U.S. Virgin Islands. Although often times I am not sailing with fellow islanders, I have to accept this award by recognizing all of my amazing crew members throughout the year and out supporters from back home in St Thomas.”

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Canfield called the award “the icing on the cake” of a successful sailing year. He and his US One Sailing Team started off 2015 on a different tack then usual when they decided to race M32s, a 32-foot catamaran dubbed a high performance ‘speed machine’ by its builders.

Canfield’s said his desire to test his skills for the first time on two hulls instead of one was driven by three key factors. First, he had an opportunity to train against members of the Nacra 17 US Sailing Team, and very much enjoyed the experience. Secondly, the fast double-hull design fit in well with the ultimate carrot of his sailing career, that of sailing in the America’s Cup, an event now trending into a multihull competition. Third, the clincher was a ride on an M32 owned by Sweden’s Mathias Rahm, a world champion, Olympic and America’s Cup contender and inaugural M32 champ in 2013.

Canfield, who has thrived on speed since his days sailing Optimists in the Caribbean tradewinds, got hooked and geared up to throw down the gauntlet in the M32. This he did by winning the four-leg M32 North American Series in April before heading to Europe in the summer for the five-leg M32 Scandinavian Series.

“Of all the regattas this year, I would say the biggest accomplishment was winning all but one of the M32 Scandinavian Series," the St. Thomas skipper said. "This achievement was enough to win us the M32 Series for the year. This was a huge upward climb that required countless hours both on and off the water, in the gym, and doing our homework until late hours in the evening, since we had just started sailing the M32 for the first time just nine months before."

Canfield also kept up with his match racing career in 2015, defending his title in the Congressional Cup, hosted out of the Long Beach Yacht Club, in California, in May. Canfield was one of only eight skippers in the 51-year-old Cup’s history to win two years in a row. One of these other skippers is fellow U.S. Virgin Islander, Peter Holmberg, who did it twice. Canfield ended the year by winning the Carlos Aguilar Match Race, in St. Thomas, in December and holding his No 2 spot in the Open World Match Racing rankings throughout all of 2015.

The 26-year-old U.S. Virgin Islands’ professional sailor was a national team and fleet racing champion in high school and three-time All American, two-time fleet racing champion and one-time team racing champion, sloop champion and match racing champion at Boston College. He credits the scores of supporters, teammates and coaches who have helped to shape his career. This includes his parents, who launched him off the beach at the St. Thomas Yacht Club in an Optimist dinghy at age 6 and who continue to support him. Canfield also thanks girlfriend Stephanie Roble, the 2014 Rolex Yachtswomen of the Year, for supporting him in all of his endeavors and constantly pushing him to be a better sailor and person.

He also gave a shout out to his home island of St. Thomas as the hands down best place in the world to learn to sail.

“The beautiful weather and strong trade winds offer a perfect environment for taking competitive sailing to the next level. Between coming back to the St. Thomas International Regatta to race IC24s – the first keel boat I learned to sail – and escaping the winters to race in the Carlos Aguilar Match Race, I could not ask for two better events to top off each season,” Canfield said. 

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