Today’s Sailor Chick of the Week comes courtesy of Mr. Clean’s ‘talent scouting’ trip down to the Caribbean last week, and we’re pretty sure there’s plenty more to come. In the meantime, a few words about 18 year-old USVI racer Nikki Barnes – pretty much the embodiment of the kind of woman we wanted to feature when we created SCOTW! Title thanks to the Prince via a fun Ghostland Observatory cover.
Sailing since the age of 6, when she first took the helm of an Optimist dinghy in the St. Thomas Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program, Nikki has literally traveled the world in pursuit of first place finishes at major dinghy sailing regattas. In 2006, she scored her first bullet in a major regatta at the Optimist World Championships in Montevideo, Uruguay and in 2007 she was the top North American girl in the Optimist North Americans in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. Most recently, Nikki and crew Agustina Barbuto from St. John placed 6th in the Ladies Division at the International 420 Worlds in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and even more impressively, nabbed 3rd at the 2011 ISAF Youth World Championships in Zadar, Croatia, bringing home the U.S. Virgin Islands first and only medal so far from in the history of the event.
Nikki’s latest adventure is match racing, and with coaching from local St. Thomasite and America’s Cup helmsman Peter Holmberg, she placed 3rd out of seven teams in the BVI Gill Match Race last week. Along the way, and starting at age 10, Nikki has jumped on as crew in everything from a sleek 30m racer to a Beneteau First 42, Etchells, IC24 and Melges 30 in hometown races such as the International Rolex Regatta and BVI Spring Regatta. Sailing will be a big part of her future too, with acceptance letters from Roger Williams University and SUNY Maritime. But Nikki is holding out for a few more weeks to see if her first choice hits – the US Coast Guard Academy – where she hopes to make service to her country, a career on the sea and sailing her life. Nikki thrives on competition like wahoo thrive on flying fish. So watch out guys, this girl’s idea of having fun is showing you her wake.