The J35 Dash has won the tenth Aruba International Regatta, the eighth time in a row. Some 40 vessels from around the ABC Islands crewed by people from as far away as the Puerto Rico, Curacao, the US, the Netherlands and Belgium, participated in the event that was characterized by shifting winds ranging 15 knots to 30 knots, testing the range of sailing skills of all participants.
Dash, formerly from Curaçao but now sailed by the Aruban Eric Mijts and his team, including veteran sailor Anita Aerts, barely made it in Racing Class. Dash finished ahead of his Curaçao rival J105 Jenk skippered by Capt. Remco van Dortmondt and the Swan 441R Casse Tete under the command of captain Edwin Versteegh. Only 28 seconds seperated the three boats in the decisive fifth and last race of the regatta.
In the Cruising Class Curacao won. First place went to Melody with Capt. Winfried Merkies, Vejigante, skippered by Pedro Marcucci came all the way from Puerto Rico and won second place, third place went to Aruban captain Arjen Wassenaar and his Gibsea 402 Gitana. In the Open class all winners were from Aruba: Eric Maris won the races with Robaina, second place was for Rik van der Vaart’s self-built John Welsford Pathfinder Vanessa and third was the Yankee 38 Bintang, skippered by Richel Gerfen.
The competition in the Sunfish races was tight as well. Job Laboyrie managed to win a decisive first place in the fourth race, pushing Randy Brown into second place and leaving no hope for a win for Richard van der Wal, who won this class seven times. The Beach Cats took a beating in the heavy winds of the Aruba International Regatta, seven boats participated and Aat Hoek and Henk Steenbergen took the winner’s cup, followed by junior sailors Jort Hartmans and Matthijs de Kool in second and Diederik Kemmerling and Myrthe de Haan in third. Winners in the Optimist races were Gavin Debevere, Vivian Hankart, and Thijn van der Werff. The Qube cup was won by Sam Bonnevalle, followed by Emanuel Simon and Jaysley Kock and the all new F-11 class was won by Angelo Fingal with seven bullets in eight races, followed by Morris Hoveling and Stijn van Dishoeck.
The Aruba International Regatta again received gold status from Sailors for the Sea – Clean Regattas and, living up to that expectation, sustainability officer Anita Aerts set up a number of campaigns to promote and stimulate responsible resource management during the event. Symbolizing this effort, the coveted regatta awards were produced from reclaimed plastics and wood by the Aruban sustainability initiative Brenchie’s Lab. No single use plastics were used during catering and participants and spectators joined in the effort to make the footprint of the regatta as small as possible. As a result, the volunteers charged with beach cleaning following the regatta could devote their attention to other tasks: no trace was left behind. All cans were collected to produce the awards of the 11th Aruba International Regatta.
Special regatta event for 2018 was the screening of the shocking documentary Chasing Coral at the University of Aruba, followed by a panel discussion with environmental activists and NGO’s. The night concluded with the announcement by an Aruban government representative who announce that Aruba is in the process of developing a further ban on single use plastics, including styrofoam bowl and plates, and a ban on sunscreen lotions containing the harmful oxybenzone.
Regatta organizers Eric Mijts, Anita Aerts and Anthony Hagedoorn look back on a successful regatta. “The event brings together the sailors of different disciplines, different walks of life and from different places in the world, to celebrate sailing and friendship in a sustainable fashion. Special thanks needs to be given to the sponsors that made the event possible, and to the valuable support provided by the Dutch Marines who provided safety and support at sea,” the organizers said.