St. John Yacht Club members awarded $1,000 scholarships to three young St. John sailors who continue to keep the spirit of club founder Bob Eaton alive at a Tuesday evening, August 7, meeting at Compass Rose Restaurant.
Sarah Swan, Mayumi “Mimi” Roller and Alex Coyle were this year’s recipients of the Bob Eaton Scholarship Award, an annual SJYC tradition.
Eaton, who founded the club in 1972, was an avid sailor and the father of the vacation rental market on St. John. He was the original owner of the very first vacation rental home on island, which was located on Lavender Hill.
Swan, who will enter her senior year and fourth year on the sailing team at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, first sailed in the St. John Kids And The Sea (KATS) program when she was seven.
Although the sailing program at Eckerd has experienced difficult times over the past few years, the team continues to grow and Swan has taken a leadership role, helping to coach new members.
This year marked the second time Swan — who is a junior member of the SJYC — was honored by the group because of her dedication to the sport, explained SJYC Commodore Gerry Hills.
“She exemplifies what we are all about — lifelong sailing,” Hills said.
The Antilles School graduate appreciates the accolades, Swan added.
“It’s always a pleasure,” said Swan. “I feel excellent that the yacht club is behind me.”
Roller and Coyle were unable to attend the meeting, but were excused with the group’s blessing because the teens were competing in sailing competitions in the U.S. mainland.
Coyle, who will be a freshman at Antilles School, traveled across the globe to compete in regattas this summer. Starting off in Mexico, Coyle sailed in the Optimist North American Championship, where he finished 34 and the USVI team took a respectable third in team racing.
From there, he was off to Sardinia, Italy, where Coyle competed in the World Championship. He took 42 place out of 250 sailors and the USVI team took 12 out of 55 countries.
Coyle has been mastering Optimists for the past three years, but is looking to join the Antilles sailing team on 420s next year. While success is nothing new to the young sailor, he owes everything to the people who support him, Coyle explained.
“I would like to thank the Yacht Club for their support because I couldn’t be here without the support of the community, my parents and my coach Argy,” said Coyle.
Roller, who will be entering her senior year at Antilles, has been battling it out with nationally-ranked competitors herself this summer. Since May, she has competed in the Laser North American Championships in Hyannis, Mass., the International Sailing Federation World Championship in Portugal, the Pan American games in Brazil and the U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championship for the Nancy Leiter Clagett Memorial trophy in Marblehead, Mass.
The fierce competitor went up against some of the best young sailors in the world and claimed an as-close-as-you-can-get second place at the Leiter Cup (see related story on this page).
Heading Down Under
Thanks to her stellar finish at the Leiter Cup, Roller is heading down under in the spring to compete in the International Sailing Federation World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand.
The club’s support is important to the young sailor, Roller explained.
“I am thankful for the scholarship and I’ll definitely use it to help better myself and my sailing,” she said. “It’s great to have the support of the community.”
It’s an honor for the yacht club to be able to recognize the young local sailors, SJYC’s commodore explained.
“We are absolutely proud of these kids,” said Hills. “When we had our board meeting and voted for them, I said ‘this really makes me feel good, being able to give awards like these.’”
The honorees were chosen from a group of possible candidates by SJYC’s Scholarship Committee members Elaine Estern and Anna Tuttle and then approved by the board, Hills added.
Next on the agenda for SJYC is the Around St. John Race, which is scheduled for January.
“We’re trying to make it a really big event,” Hills said.
Additional information about the Around St. John Race will be available as the event nears.