Home News Local news Virgin Islander Sails to the Top in South America

Virgin Islander Sails to the Top in South America


March 24, 2008 — It's apparently in the blood: 13-year-old Ian Barows, whose father is a veteran sailor and whose brother is captain of the sailing team at Yale University, landed in the winner's circle in Peru over the weekend.
The youngest Barrows took first place out a field of 190 competitors in the South American Championship of the International Optimists Dinghy Association.
While the last-place competitor finished with a total score of 603, Barrows emerged with a lean score of 25. Second and third place went to two Peruvians who finished with a 38 and 52, respectively.
A totally tuckered Barrows could barely utter a sentence Monday night following an all-night plane trip, on the heels of a week-long competition and some late-night celebrations. But he confessed he was surprised to have won.
His father, though determined not to brag, was slightly less surprised.
Shep Barrows said his son Ian and a half dozen other young Virgin Islanders spent the last 18 months under the tutelage of Augustin Rosano, a sailing coach from Argentina, and head of the V.I. Optimist National Team. Rosano, who was still in Peru and could not be reached Monday night, has been coaching his team three to five times a week, crafting them into world-class competitors.
While the Virgin Islands was able to send five sailors to South America, harvested from a pool of about eight, according to Barrows, the U.S. had a pool of more than 200 kids and could field a team three times the size of the local one. Nevertheless, no U.S. competitors finished in the top 15, compared to two from the Virgin Islands.
Nikki Barnes, an eighth-grade girl, finished 15th overall and won a silver medal in the girl's competition. A third Virgin Islander, seventh-grader Alec Taylor, finished 27th. Barnes, Taylor and Barrows all attend Antilles School.
Ian, who has some 50 sailing trophies lining his bedroom wall, won 12th place in the world Optimist competition in Sardinia last July, first place in one of Canada's biggest Optimist regattas in Kingston, Ontario, last August, and third overall in October 2006 in the Peru nationals.
The harder the regatta, the better Ian does, according to his father.
"If he's sailing around the best sailors, then that's when he feels like he gets really good," Shep said.
Ian's brother, Thomas, is an accomplished Laser sailor who won the North American Laser championship last summer and the Laser college championship last fall.
"Last June he was made an All-American sailor in his freshman year, which is really unusual," Shep said.
An Optimist is an eight-foot long, bathtub-like sail boat that serves the youngest sailors and which cannot be raced competitively come Jan. 1 of the year a child turns 16. Optimists were developed just following World War II in Florida and quickly caught on as a favorite sailing vessel for children around the world.
Lasers are nearly double the length of an Opti, as they're called, and are flatter.
The senior Barrows, who said he was never the racer his sons have become, grew up sailing in Massachusetts, sailed his way to the Virgin Islands some 30 years ago and never looked back.
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