Barrows Named 2017 ‘Virgin Islands Sailor of the Year’ by Virgin Islands Sailing Association

Photo: Ian Barrows. Courtesy Yale University Sailing Team.

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The 2017 College Sailor of the Year, former Youth Olympic Gold Medalist and current 2020 Summer Olympic medal-aspirant in the 49er, Ian Barrows, has been awarded the coveted title of ‘Virgin Islands Sailor of the Year’ for 2017 by the Virgin Islands Sailing Association (VISA).

“Ian is probably the best natural sailor the Virgin Islands has ever produced. His international accomplishments through his final year at Yale where he was named collegiate sailor of the year speak for themselves. We wish Ian good luck in his Olympic endeavors,” says Bill Canfield, VISA president.

Barrows, age 23, a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands and brother of two-time Olympic sailor, Thomas Barrows, who was also named College Sailor of the Year in 2010, is pleased to be selected.

“It’s a huge honor to receive recognition as VISA’s Sailor of The Year award because there are so many deserving U.S. Virgin Island sailors. I was fortunate to have my most successful year of college sailing in 2017. It was a good way to end my college career and now it’s time to experience a different type of sailing,” says Barrows, who graduated from Yale University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. 

The VISA award caps an incredible year of achievement for Barrows, which started in the fall of 2016 as he began his senior year at Yale. The Virgin Islands’ skipper kicked off the first inter-conference regatta of the season by finishing first in A Division in the highly-competitive Pine Trophy. Barrows then both won and led the Yale Bulldogs to two additional inter-conference victories, respectively, the Hatch Brown and Danmark Trophies. He finished the fall by once again skippering to the top of A Division and earning the Bulldogs the title the Erwin Schnell Trophy, a New England Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association (NEISA) conference championship. This autumn crescendo prefaced an even more successful spring semester of college sailing, in which Barrows proved his prowess in team racing as he did fleet racing in the fall. In fact, out of six NEISA regattas, Barrows won A Division in five. Three were inter-conference events: Graham Hall, Jan T. Friis Trophy and Thompson Trophy. The other two were the highly-competitive New England Team Race Championship and the NEISA Coed Championships/US Coast Guard Alumni Bowl. Barrows talents paid off in being named NEISA Sailor of the Year for 2017. Then, impressive performances in the LaserPerformance Team Race National Championships and Gill Coed College Sailing National Championship, capped off an incredible year that earned Barrows the Everett B. Morris Trophy by being named the Marlow Ropes College Sailor of the Year for outstanding performance at the highest level of sailing in the collegiate year. What’s more, Barrows finished his senior year on the Yale University Sailing Team as a four-time All-American.

Barrows, who started sailing Optimist dinghies at the St. Thomas Yacht Club at age 5 and later took summer classes at the Pleon Yacht Club in Marblehead, Massachusetts, credits both his brother and parents, Shep and Jean Barrows, for introducing him and encouraging him in the sport. 

“My parents sailed down to the Virgin Islands on their 32-foot sailboat and lived on it for several years. They taught my older brother how to sail and he encouraged me to hop in a boat as well. The St. Thomas Yacht Club had good coaches who helped me improve every day. My teammates and I pushed each other to keep getting better,” says Barrows. “The Virgin Islands has some of the best sailing conditions in the world. There was almost always a consistent moderate breeze that enabled me to put many hours on the water. Also, the warm climate made sailing a lot more enticing whereas, if I grew up in a colder place I might not have ever wanted to sail.”

Photo: L to R: Ian Barrows (skipper), Mitchell Kiss (crew), sailing an Olympic 49er. Credit: Barrows family.

The Virgin Islands’ sailor has enjoyed considerable success in sailing prior to college. In the Optimist, highlights include first place at the 2018 IODA South American Championship and second overall at the 2008 IODA World Championships. In high school, as a skipper on the Antilles Sailing Team, Barrows won the 2011 Interscholastic Sailing Association (ISSA) Singlehanded National Championship for the Cressy Trophy in the Laser Radial and led the school’s 2011 and 2013 wins in the 420 in the ISSA Fleet Racing Championship for the Mallory Trophy. Most spectacularly, Barrows earned a Gold Medal at the 2010 Youth Olympics in Singapore in the Boys’ Byte CII.

“Currently I’m training for the Olympics in the 49er and look forward to improving my sailing ability throughout the process,” says Barrows, who with fellow Yale graduate and crew, Mitchell Kiss, sailed in the 49er North Americans last summer and competed in the Oakcliff Triple Crown Regattas in the fall. “It was easy choosing the 49er because it’s the fastest and most fun boat I’ve ever sailed. I hadn’t sailed fast boats before the 49er, so I wanted to learn quicker decisions and learn about higher speed strategies. The best 49er sailors have gone on to skipper in the Americas Cup. so, I thought it might be my best opportunity to have a chance to compete in the Cup in the future.”

What advice does Barrows offer to young sailors in the U.S. Virgin Islands?

“My advice would be to try and put in as many hours on the water as possible because that’s what makes the biggest difference. Also, it’s important to realize how lucky you are to grow up in a place like the Virgin Islands that has perfect sailing conditions year-round,” he says.

VISA is the organization that administers all sailing activities in the US Virgin Islands. We are a Member National Authority of ISAF which is the International Federation that governs sailing worldwide, the Pan American Sailing Federation and Central American and Caribbean Sailing Organization. In addition, VISA was a founding member of the Virgin Islands Olympic Committee, which administers all Olympic sports in the Virgin Islands.

Opti Regatta, St. Thomas

Top Three Sailors Overall, L to R: Justin Callahan, Mitchell Callahan, Stephan Baker, at the Awards Ceremony at the St. Thomas Yacht Club. Credit: Dean Barnes

The opportunity to learn, race and play with some of the best in the sport are qualities that make the International Optimist Regatta (IOR), a ‘must-do’ event for Optimist sailors and their families each year. This trio of events, which attracts 8- to 15-year-old junior sailors.




  1. Mitchell Callahan, USA (14)
  2. Justin Callahan, USA (21)
  3. Stephan Baker, USA (33)
  4. Mia Nicolosi, USVI (40)
  5. Rayne Duff, BVI (42)



  1. Sebastian Spinelli-Sax, USA (140)
  2. Cort Snyder, USA (143)
  3. Jackson McAliley, USA (162)
  4. Katherine Majette, USVI (193)
  5. Jack Redmond, USA (236)



  1. Tanner Krygsveld, USVI (166)
  2. Samara Walshe, USA (355)
  3. Griggs Diemar, USA (410)
  4. Charles Gilman Hackel, USA (481)
  5. Paolo Perino, PR (503)



  1. Roger Casellas, PR (62)
  2. Sebastian Medina, PR (69)
  3. Jake Julien, USA (70)
  4. Gian Marco Piovanetti, PR (106)
  5. Owen Grainger, USA (130)



Cy Thompson has sailed his way into the 2016 Olympic Games

Cy Thompson

Coming off his Canadian Olympic Regatta win, Cy Thompson has sailed his way into the 2016 Olympic Games. The 26 year old St. Thomas native is no stranger to determination and prowess, he spent 1 month training with the Canadian Sailing team in Ontario. With a total of 15 scheduled races over 5 days, Cy’s preparation primed him for a solid start, “I stayed consistent throughout the regatta, did the math going into the last day and knew I just had to beat my closest competitor in one of the 3 races,” he said. Even with the setback of having his boat damaged before the race, Cy finished 38th which made him eligible to represent the Virgin Islands in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and gives him another shot at gold. Cy sailed for Team ISV in the London 2012 Summer Games.

Cy Thompson Sailing in Veracruz

VERACRUZ, Mexico – To be successful in competitive sailing one must be in good physical condition, but one’s fiscal conditions play a major role as well.

Members of the Virgin Islands sailing team participating in the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico, are seeing financial effects during the games.

“Equipment is very lacking. Especially for what we paid for,” Cy Thompson said. “The only people that seem to have nice boats are the ones that either got it container shipped, but more importantly, the Mexicans who have brand new gear in every class that we sail.”

Thompson, who races in the Laser class, said the boats are so old he would not accept one if it was given to him at no cost. He pointed out that the boat rented to the sailor from Antigua was logged with what seemed like 10 gallons of water.

When asked if he thinks that the selective distribution of equipment is a possible move to give certain teams and edge, he replied, “I never put it past these countries.” Thompson speaks from experience, as he was a winner in CAC Games before.

Despite the equipment issues, Team V.I. plans on sailing on to victory.

Thompson sailed his way into the qualifications for the 2016 Olympic Games scheduled for Rio de Janeiro, by making gold fleet in Spain, earlier in 2014. But he is very aware that preparing for high-level competitions bear a high level of financial considerations.

“The hard part is over, but I guess the next obstacle is the fundraising to keep things going – which is the hardest thing to do,” Thompson said.

According to Thompson, $100,000.00 is a guestimate of what it would cost for his equipment and travels for his international preparation.

“That’s a lot of money, I know, but to stay competitive that’s what you need,” Thompson said. “You need the coaches, the equipment and you need to travel to the events like the big regattas. That’s just the way it is.”

Thompson feels if you go to the Olympics without that level of preparedness, “you’re just showing up.”

“I’ve been there before,” Thompson said of the Olympics. “I want to go back, but this time I want to have a fighting chance.”

Laser class competitions are global events and Thompson would like to have equipment strategically placed at key sailing areas. “When I say equipment, I mean just being able to have boats. One boat in Rio, two boats in the U.S. and one boat in Europe so when I go there I don’t have to keep renting,” Thompson said.

Thompson has the backing and support of the V.I. Sailing Federation, but so do all other members. “It’s tough because there are a ton of athletes – ones that haven’t qualified – and need their (federation) support as well,” Thompson said. They help as much as they can, but sailing is an expensive sport.”

Team V.I. is sailing in the Sunfish, Laser, Laser Radial and the J-24 classes in Veracruz, Mexico, and the V.I. Sailing Federation has high hopes for Team V.I. and hopes that success carries over to other young V.I. sailors. Members of Team V.I. will have at least 10 days of competition in Veracruz, Mexico.

With national title in the Opti class and a win over more than 400 other competitors in the New England’s, the V.I. is expected to continue to produce great sailors.

Sailing Federation Update

The Antilles High School team has won the National Team Racing Competition and will be competing in the single handed Radial Championships. 

The young sailors are performing well and their Olympic hopeful have confirmed slots in the World Championship. 

A clinic and regatta will be held in November in the Opti Class.

The Carlos Aguilar Match Racing December 8-11, 2011.  

Ian Barrows Gold

Ian Barrows wins Gold Medal in Youth Olympics

Ian Barrows GoldVirgin Islander Ian Barrows sailed to gold in the boy’s Byte CII class. Barrows had hit the front on the penultimate day of the regatta and made certain of success with a third-place finish in the medal race.

His score of 44 points gave him a 16-point margin of victory over Germany’s Florian Haufe, who claimed silver.

Netherlands Antilles’ sailor Just Van Aanholt clinched bronze after winning the race on the last day, shading out Finland’s Kaarle Tapper by four points.

Barrows stayed very focused to the end as he maturely describes, ‘You’ve just got to stay really focused and not get too caught up in the results and not get too nervous. I had really good boat speed on the upwind and tactics, so that helped a lot and I was super conservative.’

V.I. sailor Thompson qualifies for Olympics

Cy Thompson

After a disappointing finish at the 2011 Pan American Games in October, U.S. Virgin Islands sailor Cy Thompson flew directly to Australia to compete in three prestigious regattas. The main reason for his trip to the other side of the world was to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

Earlier this week, Thompson did just that.

Thompson, a St. Thomas native, finished 56th overall out of the 147 sailors in the Men’s Laser Division at the 2011 International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Championships, which were held in Perth, Australia from Dec. 3-18.

Thompson, 23, earned one of the Olympic berths available to the top 36 countries represented at the World Championships. To date, he is the only USVI sailor to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London.

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