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Curacao Discovered for Excellent Optimist and Splash Racing

During the week of 23rd
to 29th of January, Caracasbay, Curaçao, was the scene for the FRIA
Curaçao Youth Regatta. The Optimist class was by far
the biggest with 61 entries and the Splash class (the most popular youth boat
in Europe after the Optimist) had 32
competitors.

The conditions were heavy, shifty
winds, high waves and an average of 20-25 knots. Local Optimist sailor
Ard van Aanholt won all three races; Christiaan
van Garderen and Diemer Feenstra both from the
Netherlands were second and third.
In the Splash class, Daan Freriks
of the Netherlands
finished first.

During the lay day, most of the
Caribbean sailors arrived to take part in the 3-day
weekend event. Rico sent a large group of strong sailors, including the
talented Ivan Aponte. Other talented sailors came from the US Virgin Islands
and the British Virgin Islands. David Aponte
from Club Nautico de San Juan,
and Tyler Rice from the USVI came to try out the new youth boat. Both sailors
just outgrew the Optimist and started sailing Laser.

The winds stayed strong during the
three days and 10 races sailed. The Optimist group was divided in three
classes, Optimist A, Optimist B and Club Opti. Local
sailor Willem Evertsz won the Club Opti event. The Optimist B was won by Manuel
Gonsalez from Puerto Rico, nine-year-old Ivo
Schmitt finished second and Cassandra Sijtsma both
from Curaçao third.

In the Optimist A,
Ard van Aanholt (12, son of Olympian Cor van Aanholt)
showed for the first time in his sailing career to be consistent, confident and
calm and won the event with an amazing 7 first places and 2 second places. Ivan
Aponte from Puerto Rico finished second and Guus
Neeleman (son of 5 times Olympian Mark Neeleman)
from Holland
finished third. The victory of Ard and the good
results of the other Curaçao kids may partly
be the result of coach Fernando Allegre
(Happy) from Peru
who gave a clinic the week before the regatta. It was for the first time that
Curaçao had been visited by a real Optimist
specialist.

The Splash class was dominated by
the Dutch sailors and won by Daan Freriks
who also won last year’s Regatta in Splash. But local sailor
Michiel van Wickeren managed to
sail 3 first places and finished ninth. Tyler Rice (USVI), David Aponte (PR)
and Philipine van Aanholt (CUR), who sailed so many
regattas together in Optimist, found each other again and finished 11, 12, and
17th.

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