St. John sailing sensation Mayumi “Mimi” Roller is cruising toward her goal of representing the territory in laser sailing at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
A graduate of Antilles School, Roller attends St. Mary’s College of Maryland where she races double handers with the elite sailing team. She’s taking the upcoming fall semester off in order to concentrate on sailing a laser in front of the Olympic crowds next summer.
Roller recently returned from a month of competition in Germany where she battled less than perfect conditions while racing against some of the world’s top sailors.
Racing in Kiel Week at the end of June, Roller cruised to a finish in the middle of the pack, she explained.
“There was lots of wind and really big waves,” said Roller. “Kiel Week is a big international regatta that is well-renowned, so there were a lot of top sailors there and a lot of different fleets. There were about 50 people in my class and I ended up about 13.”
“We didn’t sail the last day which was really disappointing,” said the sailor. “It was the first day of really light wind, but the race committee thought it was too light to sail. I had some decent races and there were a few where I was on the brink of being in the top 10.”
Making the transition back from double-handed collegiate sailing to single-hand laser racing, Roller was happy with her outcome at Kiel Week.
“I had some happy moments,” she said. “Since I’ve been doing a lot of college sailing, I haven’t had a lot of time to practice on lasers. So this was a good first regatta for me to get back into lasers.”
Roller took memories of those happy moments along with her to Warnemunde Week, where conditions just before the regatta were perfect.
“When we arrived there it was really nice and sunny,” said Roller. “As soon as the regatta started, the weather was terrible. The first day we didn’t sail at all because it was blowing 30 knots and gusting to 45 knots.”
“The second day we only got two races in of the three that were scheduled,” she said. “It was really foggy all morning long. We didn’t sail out to the race course until 3 p.m. when the first race was scheduled to be at 11 a.m. but we couldn’t get out there because there was too much fog.”
The third day of the regatta only saw two of the planned four races go off as weather conditions continued to be a factor, Roller explained.
“It started out really windy again on the third day,” she said. “We only got in two races and the first race got abandoned in the second half because we couldn’t find the next mark in the fog. And the last day we didn’t sail at all.”
With only four races in four days, the regatta did not afford Roller the laser practice she was hoping for, but she still managed to finish in the top 15 — and second female overall — in a mixed fleet of about 120 sailors.
“I was the second girl finisher overall,” she said. “The only girl who beat me is going to the Olympics for Germany.”
Roller also made a connection in Germany which might prove invaluable in her Olympic bid.
“When I went to Kiel it was really crazy because I was going to rent a boat from a friend in the Netherlands who was going to bring the laser down,” said Roller. “But then she didn’t go to the regatta so I had to try to find a boat available at the regatta, and there was a slim chance of that. I ended up running into a friend from India, who I’ve known since 2007, Rohini Rau.”
“She was with her coach and there were three other Indian sailors who were supposed to come but couldn’t make it,” Roller said. “So I ended up getting one of those boats and training with Rohini’s coach before the regatta.”
If all goes well, Roller will be spending a lot more time with her friend Rau, she explained.
“There has never been anyone from India qualify in sailing for the Olympics before and Rohini’s coach wants her train with other top sailors,” said Roller. “The Indian Sailing Association is trying to get people to India to train with her and I’m one of the candidates.”
Roller was hoping to finalize plans this week to spend the month of September in Chennai, India, to train with Rau and her coach. In the meantime, Roller is heading to London next month for the Olympic Test event.
“I’m going to London in August for the test event which will be at the Olympic site,” she said. “All of the Olympic classes will be there and I’ll race against all the people who will be at the Olympics plus a few hopefuls, like me. It will be a great way to see where you end up against the other top people from each country.”
Roller is also hoping that the Virgin Islands Sailing Association fixes its mistake and gets her into the Olympic qualifying regatta in Australia in December. She also continues to accept donations helping her along on her Olympic bid. For more information about making a donation to Roller call 340-693-5579.