Stanton nearly perfect in winning Sunfish Open, earns spot in 2024 Sunfish Worlds

Stanton nearly perfect in winning Sunfish Open, earns spot in 2024 Sunfish Worlds

CHRISTIANSTED — Scott Stanton used his experience from years sailing in Teague Bay to pay off in a big way over the weekend, as he won the St. Croix Yacht Club’s Sunfish/ILCA Open regatta on Sunday.

Stanton won nine out of 10 races over the two-day regatta — and finished second in that one race he didn’t win — to finish with a total score of nine points, far ahead of runner-up Beecher Higby III in the 15-boat field.

“I’ve been sailing since I was ten years old — I’ve been sailing on this bay since I was ten years old,” Stanton said. “Most of the races I was able to win by quite a bit just because I was able to connect the dots and I’ve seen it before. I took everything I knew and put it out on the course and it helped me excel.”

That experience sailing in the waters off the north side of St. Croix not only helped Stanton win the Sunfish/ILCA Open, but it gives him a shot at something bigger: The top five finishers qualified the 2024 Sunfish World Championships, to be held October 12-19 on Lake Ray Hubbard outside of Dallas, Texas.

Stanton nearly perfect in winning Sunfish Open, earns spot in 2024 Sunfish Worlds

Stanton and the other four qualifiers will join another St. Croix sailor — his brother Peter Stanton — in the field for the 2024 Sunfish Worlds. Peter Stanton automatically qualified due to his ninth-place finish in the 2023 Sunfish Worlds in Miami, Fla.

Also qualifing for the Sunfish Worlds from the Sunfish/ILCA Open — the first qualifying regatta held in the U.S. Virgin Islands in more than 20 years — were Higby, Tim Pitts, teenager Parker Nagle and Steven Rogers. All are from St. Croix.

Scott Stanton’s one blemish on what could have been a perfect race weekend came Saturday. He had reeled off five consecutive wins, but in the day’s sixth and final race, Stanton finished second to Higby.

Still, Stanton had a commanding lead in points entering Sunday’s final day on Teague Bay — and he would add to it by going a perfect 4-for-4 in wins. With the second-place finish dropped from the scoring — a standard under international sailing rules — that left Stanton far ahead.

That left the real race between the rest of the field for second through fifth place, where things wound up being a lot closer.

In addition to his lone race win, Higby finished second in scoring with 24 points, thanks to four runner-up finishes (including three straight Sunday) and five other top-five finishes.

That left Higby eight points ahead of Pitts, who had eight top-five finishes (including a pair of second places) in 10 starts for 32 points. That beat out Nagle, who had seven top-fives (including a pair of seconds Saturday) for 37 points. Rogers had six top-fives (including one runner-up finish Saturday) for 41 points.

“Having these kids sail against more boats is only going to increase their learning curve and these kids are sponges absorbing it,” Pitts said. “As these kids get faster, it’s only going to push us to get better as well.”

Nagle earned the top junior sailor award for his Sunfish Worlds-qualifying finish, while St. John’s Anais Craig was named the top junior female and top overall female award winner after she finished seventh.

“As the number of boats increases the talent level is going to rise, especially with a lot of the teenagers we saw out there today,” Stanton said. “You’ll see them grow and develop. The top end was really good and the middle is getting better and growing faster.”

Rounding out the top 10 in scoring at the Sunfish/ILCA Open were David Walworth (47 points), Craig (65 points), A.J. Mauro (73 points), Bannon Beaty (75 points) and Meg Deegan (78 points).

By KESHAUN SCOTT/V.I. Daily News

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