Simpson Bay, St. Maarten – November 21, 2022
Twenty-six youth sailors from six different countries competed in the 17th annual Sol St. Maarten Optimist Championship, this weekend.
With sailors from the Antigua Yacht Club, St. Kitts and Nevis Sailing Association, Club de Voile de Friar’s Bay (St. Martin), Youth Sailing Curacao, Saint Barth Yacht Club, and the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, the competition was fierce and the racing of high quality!
Eleven competitors raced in the orange fleet and 15 young sailors raced in the blue fleet which is for the advanced sailors.
“We are so happy to see more and more international teams joining again, said Saskia Revelman, event manager at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club. In 2019 thirty-one competitors joined the event and because of COVID the numbers dropped to seventeen and nineteen boats in 2020 and 2021. The competition is back with twenty-six racers! We are convinced that we can take the number up to thirty-five competitors next year.”
Antigua attended the event with 4 sailors, as a big part of their racing team was sailing in the Bahamas, representing Antigua in the Optimist North American Championship.
The team from Youth Sailing Curacao joined the event in 2021 with 2 sailors and came back this year with 6 strong racers!
Our regular guests, Club de Voile de Friar’s Bay represented with 4 sailors and Saint Barths Yacht Club brought in 3 sailors.
The St. Kits and Nevis Sailing Association attended the event with 3 sailors.
The Sint Maarten Yacht Club participated with 3 sailors this year, Veronica Destin sailed in the blue fleet, Axel vanden Eynde and Nathan Sheppard in the orange fleet.
In the blue fleet, the fight for second and first place was tight and took place between James Balentien from Curacao and Carrack Jones from Antigua. Where Carrack was in first place after Race Day 1, with a difference of 3 points, Balentien sailed better on day 2, even though he scored a 10th place in race 11. Jones scored a 12th place in race 9, which made it all very close. Balentien managed to take the win with only a 1-point difference and took home the overall trophy and a beautiful dry bag, sponsored by Budget Marine.
Richendly Ferrero from Curacao took third place in the blue fleet. Ferrero is showing promising progress as he ended on 11th position in the blue fleet, in the 2021 edition of the Sol Optimist Championship last year.
In the orange fleet, Skyla Connor, representing the St. Kitts and Nevis Sailing Association took first place with 14 points out of 11 races. In this fleet the fight was about second, third and fourth place, with all these places only one point apart from each other. Lourenco Rolo Couto from the Saint Barth Yacht Club managed to come in second, with 23 points. Nathan Sheppard from Sint Maarten came in third with 24 points and Tao Carmona from Saint Barth Yacht Club came in fourth with 25 points.
“When you see how close the results are, it shows you how tight and exciting the racing and competition was, said Sam Peeks, Racing Coach at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club. We are happy to see the progress during the weekend, but most importantly everybody had fun. Participating is as important to recognize as winning, so I would like to congratulate all competitors with their achievements during the weekend”.
Two additional trophies for Sportsmanship and Newcomer were also awarded. The Race Organization rewarded Greyson Burrell from the St. Kitts and Nevis Sailing Association as promising newcomer. It was his first race off island, and he showed great motivation and didn’t give up in tough conditions.
Stanley Haes from Club de Voile de Fryers Bay was rewarded with the Sportsmanship Award, for the second time in a row. Haes showed great sportsmanship as he turned his penalties when he made a mistake, even though when there were no other participants around to alert him.
“This is how we would like to see the sport, said Race Officer Rien Korteknie, true and honest racing on a high level. Korteknie was impressed with the talent of the youth in the Caribbean and is encouraging all participants to keep practicing and racing”.
“So many young competitors are excited for this event every year. We couldn’t have done it without all the help from the volunteers in Race Committee, onshore and offshore and the sponsors that contribute yearly to this event. From donating prizes, to breakfast, snacks and dinner, our sponsors made it all possible” says Linda Koning, intern at the SMYC. “We want to thank our title sponsor SOL for their loyal and continuous support. As well as our other regional sponsors: Budget Marine, Remax, The Scuba Shop, Domino’s, Grant Thornton and Zeebest.
All pictures, taken by Nina Manley on Saturday and Edward Penagos can be found here. Results can be found here.
Sint Maarten Yacht Club
The club was established in 1980 with the goal to promote sailing on the island of St. Maarten. The Sint Maarten Yacht Club organizes multiple sailing events throughout the year, with the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta as its crown jewel. A youth sailing program stimulates local youngsters to become part of the sailing community, teaching them life skills like teamwork, perseverance and confidence. Always looking to further develop sailing on St. Maarten, the Club is active in promoting the sport, as well as the beautiful Caribbean island destination of St. Maarten. For more information visit www.smyc.com