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26 June 2007, 10:50 am
Puerto Rico's MONLLOR Wins
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Scotiabank Caribbean International Optimist Regatta 2007
St Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Great starts and 'covering the fleet' were the tactics that paid off for Puerto Rico's Fernando MONLLOR, who won the 15th annual Scotiabank Caribbean International Optimist Regatta, sailed out of St Thomas Yacht Club, US Virgin Islands from 23-25 June.
MONLLOR was one of a record 95 junior sailors (age 8-15) representing Germany, Canada, the US mainland (Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington), Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, all three US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Barbados and Curacao, making this the largest regatta of its kind in the Caribbean.

'I rounded the mark 29th in one race,' MONLLOR said, explaining his method to success. 'After that, I just told myself, 'I'm fast,' as a way to catch up. And, I relaxed. That helped.'

Junior sailors were grouped into advanced and beginner fleets, and the advanced fleet was further subdivided into age groups.

Puerto Rico's Stars

Puerto Rico's MONLLOR also won the Red Fleet (age 13-15), followed by fellow islanders Raul RIOS, in second, and Ivan APONTE, in third. RIOS is the reigning South American Championships winner and Aponte the North American Championships winner, distinctions that highlight the calibre of sailing talent at this regatta.

'It was tough this year,' said APONTE, who won the 2006 Scotiabank Caribbean International Optimist Regatta. 'There were a lot of really good kids.'

MONLLOR, RIOS and APONTE also scored top three overall, respectively, in the advanced fleet.

In the Blue Fleet (age 11-12), St Thomas' Ian BARROWS (ISV) won following a spectacular tacking duel in the last race of the regatta against Christopher WILLIFORD (USA), of Ft Lauderdale, Florida, who finished second by a narrow five points after 12 races.

'I tacked on him, then tacked on him again, and led him over the line,' said BARROWS.

The Dominican Republic's Edwardo ARIZA ended third.

Double Celebrations

St Thomas' Addison HACKSTAFF (ISV) enjoyed two celebrations on the regatta's final day - a win in White Fleet (age 10 and under) and his 11th birthday. 'I got a black flag the first day for being over early. Boy, I really hated that,' said HACKSTAFF. 'The second day I really thought about my strategy because I really wanted to win, and I did.'

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A record 94 junior sailors competed in the
Scotiabank Caribbean International Regatta
© Dean Barnes

Curacao's Odile VAN AANHOLT (AHO) ended second, in spite of a being seasick the first day. 'I like being at the top. So when I felt better, that's what I tried for,' said VAN AANHOLT, whose brother Just raced in Blue Fleet, while brother Ard sailed in Red Fleet, and coach/father Cor is an ISAF International Judge and former Sunfish World Champion.

Bermuda's Antonio BAILEY ended third.

In the beginner Green Fleet, Cayman Island sailors cleaned up first and second. Elliot VERNON took first, after sailing an Optimist for less than a year. 'This was my first international regatta,' VERNON said. 'What I like best about Opti sailing is going fast, meeting new people and travelling.'

Fellow islander Camilo BERNAL took second, while St Croix's Alexandria RICH (ISV) finished third.

Famous Family

St Thomas' Green Fleeter Kai HOLMBERG enjoyed his first Scotiabank Regatta but had a tough time pulling himself away from the television on the regatta's second day. No, he is not addicted to cartoons. Rather, his uncle, Peter HOLMBERG (ISV), was making news by helping Alinghi win its first race of the 2007 America's Cup.

Nikki BARNES, from St Thomas, earned the Top Girl award and the Pete IVES Sportsmanship Trophy, while the USA's Daniel JUDD in Green Fleet won the Chuck Fuller Sportsmanship Trophy.

The regatta week kicked-off with a three-day clinic led by six internationally respected sailing coaches from South America.

'The clinic really helped me to focus,' said regatta winner, MONLLOR. 'That was good when the pressure was on the last day.'

Team Racing

The first-ever Optisailors Team Racing Trophy championships took place on 21 June. Team St Thomas won, followed by Team Puerto Rico and Team USA. Eight teams raced.

'Team racing is really taking off in Optimist sailing,' said Agustin 'Argy' RESANO, coach of the St Thomas team.

Team Virgin Islands, Team Puerto Rico and Team USA won the Optisailors Team Racing Trophy championships.

Virgin Islands Governor John P. DEJONGH welcomed the sailors at the Opening Reception. This was followed by social activities throughout the weekend that ranged from Bingo to firewalkers, limbo dancing and steel pan music.

Karen RICE, regatta co-director with Cindy HACKSTAFF, said, 'We're very please with the growth of this regatta over the years. It's become bigger and better. In fact, the number of boats almost equals our International Rolex Regatta, making it one of the largest events we host.'

About Optimist sailing RICE adds, 'Kids learn tremendous skills, such as leadership and taking responsibility for themselves and their decisions.'

At eight feet long and with a single sail, the Optimist dinghy is sailed in over 110 countries by over 150,000 young people. At the Summer Olympic Games in Athens, over 60% of the skippers and 70% of the medal-winning skippers were former Optimist sailors.

Barby MacGowan (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Fernando MONLLOR:© Dean Barnes
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