Sam Morrell qualifies for Youth Olympic Games

Sam-MorellWith a resounding third overall finish in the 2014 Byte CII North American Championships Sam Morrell became the first British Virgin Islands sailor to qualify for an Olympic yachting berth.  Competing in Jensen Beach, Florida Morrell easily secured one of the four spots available to sailors from the North American and Caribbean region.

Morrell will join sailors representing the USA, Canada, Bahamas, the USVI and the Bahamas at the event.

Conditions in the four-day regatta ran the gamut from light and shifty to windy.

“I’m much faster in strong wind,” explained the 14-year old Morrell.  “My results in the 3 light wind races on the 2nd day were OK, but I was better when the wind was up.

Going into the events final 2-races on day four, Morrell had a great chance to secure a qualifying position.  He needed to finish no more than three points behind the USVI sailor and four points behind the competitor from Bermuda.  In the end he beat them both and moved into 3rd overall in the regatta and the 2nd qualifying position.

A total of 10-races were held in the four day regatta which saw 30-sailors from the USA, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean compete for 4-remaining spots in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games which will be held in Nanjing, China this August.  The USA and Canada had previously qualified and Morrell joined the Cayman Islands, Bahamas and the US Virgin Islands in winning spots.  Sailing spots in the Youth Olympics are apportioned to countries from different regions around the World.

This was Morrell’s second chance to qualify.  He attended the Byte World Championships  last August in Newport Rhode Island.

“I did poorly at the Worlds,” he admitted.  “But, I returned to the VI and trained hard.  A lot of training and coaching got me into great shape for this event.”

Morrell, who turns 15 on March 27th, has been sailing and racing dinghies since he was 9.  Switching from the Optimist to the Byte was a calculated move.

“I was sizing out of Opti’s [Optimist dinghies] and we set the Youth Olympics as a goal.,” he explained.

Morrell has represented the British Virgin Islands in the Optimist New England, North & South American Championships and finished the 2013 Optimist World Championships in 112th position.

The Youth Olympic Games are held every four years.  The 2014 Games will be held in Nanjing, China.