The Sint Maarten Yacht Club, organizer of the 15th Annual Sol St. Maarten Optimist Championship, had seventeen youth sailors out on the water this weekend. Ten competitors in the orange (medium) fleet and seven in the blue (advanced) fleet. Due to Covid, travel restrictions are still in place at most Caribbean islands, therefore a reduced number of countries could attend. Still 17 sailors from St. Barths, Saint Martin and St. Maarten raced against each other for a place on the stage. The absolute winner of the Blue Fleet, and overall winner of the event, was Lolie Osswald from St. Barths, who got 10 bullets out of 12 races, winning with a significant lead.
According to Saskia Revelman, the race coach of St. Maarten: “This year’s regatta was smaller in size due to the restrictions of travelling for a few countries, but it still turned out to be a beautiful weekend full of racing. St. Barths always brings good competition in the blue fleet and was well represented with 6 sailors, of which 5 sailed in the blue fleet. This was the second year that Friar’s Bay Sailing School from Saint Martin sent sailors to participate and you can see the growth. We had quite strong winds on Saturday and Sunday which required a lot of perseverance from the youth sailors in the orange fleet, so we are very proud of our sailor Veronica Destin, who ended up on the second place in the orange class”.
St. Barths dominated this year’s Optimist Championship showing excellent sailing skills which resulted in winning the top three places in the Blue Fleet and their only racer in the orange fleet won first place.
In the blue fleet, Lolie Osswald went home with the overall trophy and a watch sponsored by Ballerina Jewelers. Jules Fortunati took home 2nd place and Marvin Febrissy 3rd.
In the orange fleet, Paul Loup Karman from St Barts became 1st. Veronica Destin from Sint Maarten took home 2nd and Emilien Lenormand from the French side became third.
Two additional trophies for Sportsmanship and Best Newcomer were also awarded. Sarah Michaux only started sailing lessons recently and took home the ‘Best Newcomer’ trophy as well as the 5th place in the orange fleet. Noemie Dedardel showed true persistence and fought her way through the races for which she was rewarded with the Sportsmanship trophy for showing true perseverance.
Nils Jannichsen, instructor at the SMYC: “All the youth sailors tried their best and did very well. We are very pleased with the event and everybody can be proud of making it possible!”
Many local and regional businesses have pitched in to make this event happen. Bob Hilbert sportswear has made special Optimist Championship long sleeve UV-shirts for all the competitors to wear during the event.
“This event is a regional jewel for all the young competitors. We couldn’t have done it with all the help from our sponsors that contribute yearly to this event. From donating prizes, to breakfast, snacks and dinner, our sponsors made it all possible” says Leonde Vermeulen, event manager of the SMYC. “This year we want to thank our sponsors Bob Hilbert, The Scuba Shop, Divico Distributors and Cash & Carry, Zeebest, Ballerina Jewelers, Martime School West Indies, Domino’s and Rainforest Adventures.