British Virgin Islands Duff WIns 22nd International Optimist Regatta

Rayne Duff in St Thomas

Rayne Duff in St Thomas

Shifting strategies to match wind speed and direction, staying out in front of the fleet and remaining calm provided successful strategies for 11-year-old Rayne Duff. Duff won the 22nd International Optimist Regatta (IOR) hosted out of the St. Thomas Yacht Club, St. Thomas, USVI, from June 20 to 22. At the conclusion of Sunday’s final two races, the Tortola, British Virgin Islands based sailor continued to lengthen his lead and comfortably finished with 33 points separating him from his closest competition. That’s quite a feat considering the keen level of competition in the 59-boat Advanced Optimist fleet and wind conditions blowing a brisk 10 to 15 knots, plus higher in gusts.

“I still need to work on my starts,” says Duff, who along with his other team members will be representing the BVI in the Optimist North American Championships, in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, July 9 to 16. “But being consistent, in the top three in every race, is really what helped.”

Duff not only won the overall championship, but also the 11- and 12-year-old Blue Fleet. The BVI had a total of 7 sailors in the competition.

BVI Coach Rob Lind said “the BVI team sailed really well and we were very proud of all of them, especially of course Rayne Duff”. 

Nathan Haycraft came second in the 10 and under White Fleet – 35th overall. Thad Lettsome in 11 and 12 year old Blue Fleet was the 2nd best BVI Boat and 19th overall. Sam Childs finished 25th overall, James Dawson 36th overall and Amelie Clark 39th. Anya Reshetiloff competed in Green Fleet.

In the 13- to 15-year-old Red Fleet, it was 13-year-old Teddy Nicolosi, from St. Thomas, USVI, who finished first in spite of poor scores at the beginning of the regatta.

“The first day I was too nervous, I couldn’t think straight,” says Nicolosi, a member of the USVI National Team that will also compete in the Optimist North Americans in Mexico. “The second day I relaxed and told myself I didn’t care about the results, that it was just practice. Then I started sailing better.”

The USA’s Stephan Baker won the age 10 and Under White Fleet. “I played the left side of the course. That’s what my coach recommended and he has a lot of experience here. It really paid off,” says Baker. Baker is coached in Miami, Florida, by Antigua native and former BVI coach, Omari Scott.

The trophy for Top Girl was awarded to 11-year-old Isabella Casaretto from the USA. Casaretto also finished an impressive 7th overall.

“I sailed here last year and didn’t do well,” says Casaretto. “This year, I got clean starts, clear air and kept up with the top of the fleet. I like it that there’s a lot of wind here.”

Twenty-two junior sailors competed in the Green or Beginner Fleet, which bodes well for the future of the sport. In the end, it was 9-year-old Caroline Sibilly from St. Thomas, USVI, who emerged victorious.

“My strategy was to get away from the others and into clear air so I could go fast,” says Sibilly.

“I was very impressed with the level of skill here especially in the top sailors,” says David Campbell James of Southampton, UK, who served as the IOR’s Principal Race Officer.

A total of 81 sailors competed in the Advanced Red, Blue and White Fleets and beginner Green Fleet. The Advanced Fleets completed 10 races and the Green Fleet a total of 18races over the three days of competition. Sailors hailed from 10 nations – Antigua, Argentina, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Germany, Puerto Rico, Spain, the Netherlands, U.S.A, and all three USVI.

The IOR is organized under authority of the Virgin Islands Sailing Association and it is a Caribbean Sailing Association-sanctioned event.

The week started off with the Sea Star Clinic, run by local coaches and coaches from, and included the one-day Sea Star Team Race. The BVI team sailors were Rayne Duff, James Dawson, Thank Lettsome and Nathan Haycraft. They won 3 of their 5 heats qualifying for the semi-finals; they ended up with 4th place.

The team race was won by STYC 1, made up of Teddy Nicolosi, Christopher Sharpless, Mateo DiBlasi and Robert Hunter.

The BVI would like to thank their Sponsors Moorings, Nanny Cay and Nagico Insurances without whom the weekend would not have been possible.