35 Optimist from St Maarten, Antigua, St Kitts and St Barts participated in the 13th Annual Sol St Maarten optimist Championship, a record number of entrants for the event. Antiguan sailor Theodore Spencer excelled over the weekend and became the overall winner of this regional youth sailing event, sponsored by Sol Petroleum for all 13 years.
The teams from Antigua and St Barts showed excellent sailing skills and most of their sailors took home prizes. Nevertheless, St Maarten and St Kitts did offer good competition and several sailors raced their way into the top 10. St Maarten Sailing Coach Maxim van der Pol explains: “St Kitts hasn’t competed in regional sailing competitions for several years and for many of their sailors it was the first time they went off island and participate in a sailing event. They can be very proud of their team and we saw some great talent and competition.”
“St Maarten has many sailors who recently started and are still learning to race. This was their first big racing event and the main goal was to learn and to have fun. St Maarten sailor Caii Banting initially was challenged by the conditions and the many participants on the water, but once he became more comfortable, raced extremely well and made it to 7th place in his class.” Van der Pol continued.
Emma Lennox was the only St Maarten sailor in the blue feet for the more advanced kids and challenged herself with the level of competition she was experiencing. Especially on day 2 she raced very consistent and left the back of the fleet behind to become the 10th place winner in her class. “We definitely saw great racing potential in several of our sailors. Rio Stomp especially impressed us as he only started sailing Optimists recently and was extremely focused throughout the 2-day event”. Added sailing instructor Reinier Calkhoven.
David Antrobus, General Manager of Sol, presented the trophies to the winners. “It is amazing to see such sailing talent in the region and to set a record number of entries for the Sol St Maarten Optimist Championship is wonderful. We are very pleased with the outcome of the event, especially as the children had such a good time out on the water”.
Participants took home wonderful prizes donated by a number of local businesses, such as a Go Pro and full-face mask donated by the Scuba Shop and Go Pro, watches by Ballerina Jewelers, G & N Jewelers, AMA Jewelers and Duty Free Plaza and water toys by Ace. Other goodies were sponsored by Sol, Remax Island Properties, Divico, Grant Thornton, Budget Marine, Cost U Less, Domino’s sponsored pizzas and Carl & Son’s provided breakfast and lunch.
Organizers are grateful for all other support the event received. FKG Rigging, Kidz at Sea and the Tropical Sail Loft provided support boats, Port St Maarten and SLAC assisted with customs and bridge openings and a great number of volunteers lent a hand throughout the weekend. “Sponsors, volunteers and supporting businesses are key to the success of the event. Without them we could not make it happen. Sol has been the title sponsor for every single year that the event has been organized, which shows great loyalty. We are lucky that other businesses and volunteers also chip in to add to the overall quality of the event.” Says SMYC Event Manager Leonde Vermeulen.