29th International Optimist Regatta
Published on June 19th, 2022
Good starts, consistent finishes, and having fun is what led the USA’s Beck Brill to win the 29th International Optimist Regatta (IOR) on June 17-19 in St Thomas, USVI. Hosted by St. Thomas Yacht Club (STYC), nearly 100 sailors from Puerto Rico, several U.S.A. states, and the U.S. Virgin Islands competed in Caribbean-ideal conditions that averaged 15- to 18-knots of breeze under sunny skies.
Brill’s first place overall also put him at the top of the 13- to 15-year-old Red Fleet, after 10 races in the Championship fleet.
“I knew I had to be consistent to stay in front,” said Brill, who was competing in his fourth IOR. “I sang songs in my head to relax. In the last race, I finished second and it put me in the lead by 7 points.”
Thirteen-year-old Kayla Benesch (USA) ended second overall and second in the Red Fleet and earned the Top Female award. She is the first to receive the new perpetual Founders Trophy, awarded to the IOR’s top female sailor.
This trophy is designed to recognize the IOR’s women’s sailing past and present and promote greater participation by young women in this event. The Founders Trophy is the brainchild of two of the event’s five founders, Henry and Fredelle Menin.
In the age 11- to 12-year-old Blue Fleet, 12-year-old Emilio Bocanegra (USA) finished first.
“My plan for the week was to be consistent and get good starts. Each day, I worked to execute my plan. It paid off. It was a very good week,” says Bocanegra.
Rounding out the Championship Fleet is White Fleet winner, 10-year-old Diego Rivera-Hermida (PUR).
“I tried to keep on the side of the course where the wind was best,” says Rivera-Hermida, who added that having fun and making friends were highlights of his week as well as the podium finish.
Earlier on June 16 was the TOTE Team Racing Championships which was won by Team CRYC (Coral Reef Yacht Club)
Over a dozen teams of four sailors each participated with the champion title coming down to a best of three contest between two USA teams, both racing under the burgee of Florida’s Coral Reef Yacht Club. Team CRYC Spectra won the first two races, sealing their win. Team members were Will Barnhart, Kayla Benesch, Brayden Zawyer, and Sophie De Leon Urban.
“The racing was tight between us and the other team. It came down to the last legs to determine the winner,” says 15-year-old Barnhart, who captained Team CRYC Spectra.