St. John Students Help Antilles Sail to Victory in Mallory Cup

St. John students Sarah Burks, center, and Hugo Roller Jr., third from right, pose with their Antilles Sailing Team.

The Antilles School sailing team, with the help of two students from St. John, sailed to victory on Sunday, May 14, at the prestigious Mallory Cup competition at the Grosse Point Yacht Club in Grosse Point, Michigan.

This distinction makes the team, who was participating in the Mallory Cup for the first time, the top high school sailing team in the nation.

The Antilles team sailed on the freshwater seas at Lake St. Claire against the top 20 teams in the nation, who qualified for the regatta by winning regional events.

Teams competing at the Mallory Cup sail in double-handed 420 racing boats.

St. John resident Sarah Burks sailed in the race, while Hugo Roller, also a St. John resident, stood by as an alternate crew.

“I can’t hold the boat down in more than 16 knots, so Hugo’s there to help me when I need him,” said Burks.

“He’s the muscle man,” said Roller’s father, Hugo Roller Sr. “In 20 knots or more, you get the muscle man out there.”

Cold Weather Success
Burks crewed with Thomas Barrows, who skippered, and Taylor Canfield crewed with skipper Nathan Rosenberg. The two teams’ scores were added together to determine Antilles’ overall team score.

Antilles beat Newport Harbor High School by just one point after a protest filed by the team that ultimately finished fourth disqualified Newport Harbor from the final race.

The Antilles sailing team won despite temperatures in the 50s.

“It was really cool up there,” said Burks. “I wore dishwashing gloves to keep water from getting on my hands.”

“It was really cold, and the water was really cold,” said Roller. “There were a lot of waves, so it wasn’t too pleasant.”

The students and their parents were excited about the win.

“I’m just so excited that the Virgin Islands is the top of the nation,” said Roller’s mother, Josephine Roller. “They’ve come so far.”

Roller and Burks are both KATS (Kids and the Sea) alumni.

“The starts at the regatta were really important, and for the most part they had really good starts, but if they didn’t, they would round the weather mark and usually pass several boats there,” said Burks’ mother, Tina Walker-Brinson. “They either got it at the start, or they made up for it later in the race. They sailed really well and really smart.”

Donations Are Needed
Sailing is an expensive sport, said Roller Sr., who added that the team needs help with funding.

“It’s critical that the team gets some funding from the private sector, because the costs are quite high,” he said. “If anyone is so motivated, they should feel free to come forward and talk to Antilles. And anyone that wants to help individual sailors can do so by contacting the Olympic Committee and donating money in a particular sailor’s name.”

Donating funds helps promote sailing in the Virgin Islands, according to Roller Sr.

“This is a way of promoting the sport in the Virgin Islands,” he said. “Next year, we’re hoping to get more participants in the Pan American games, because that is just one notch below the Olympics. It’s a very critical regatta to get people to participate in.”

Roller Sr.’s daughter, Mimi Roller, also sails for the Antilles School sailing team, and has seen success in individual races.

“I went to Tortola two weekends ago for the BVI Dinghy Championship, put on by the Royal BVI Yacht Club,” said Mimi Roller. “The wind shifted a lot, so it was hard to stay in a good position, but I ended up getting first place in that.”

Those interested in donating funds can reach the Antilles School at 776-1600. Donations to individual sailors can be facilitated by the V.I. Olympic Commit-tee, which can be reached at 778-2229. KATS, which can be reached at 779-4994, also accepts donations.