For the first time in their lives wrapped in tight dry suits with hats and gloves instead of swimming shorts, the six sailors of Youth Sailing Curaçao went on the IJsselmeer.
It is very clear to us now whether Curacao youth sailors can perform in strong winds—they stood firm against the strong wind and hail showers in the Netherlands. Unfortunately for the Antillean group, the weather during the four-day sailing event was not so stable. Constant changes in temperature and wind speed characterized the Open Dutch Championship at which 800 youth sailors joined from 19 countries.
Ard van Aanholt scored immediately a first place during the first day at the Dutch Youth Regatta in Workum. Alexandra Siebels was 3rd in the Optimist Benjamin Class and Philipine van Aanholt finished at second in the Splash Class, but later it was discovered that she was over the starting line too early.
The water temperature water oscillated between eight and 10 degrees Celsius, a considerable difference between the pleasant Curacao water temperatures of 25 to 27 degrees Celsius. The weather had huge changes, from eight degrees Celsius, with hail storms and wind speed of five, to 20 degree Celsius with sun and almost no wind at all. The AHO team had never seen a hail storm before and of course never sailed in one.
Besides this it seemed that sailing on fresh water with short waves was also a challenge for the AHO team. Coach Martin Jenkins then had to work hard to support the team with the quickly changing results—there were times they were leading the fleets but then other times they were dead last.
The Belgian sailor Gilles Cleerens won 1st place in the Gold Splash, and was followed by Hidde van der Molen from the Netherlands. Irena Doets (NED) finished third. Dennis van den Berg from Curaçao qualified for the Gold Class but did not do so well in the fresh water with the quickly changing wind shifts. Philipine van Aanholt had three disqualifications (twice head starts and once because of illicit pumps) and ended up in the Silver Slpash Class. But Philipine made the podium with a third place for the AHO team. Prior to the championship the pair, who were sponsored by restaurant Zanzibar, trained for four days with the Dutch talent team.
Odile van Aanholt (who turned 10 recently) finished at the 12 th place in the Optimist Benjamin Class with 82 sailors from nine countries; Odile was also second girl in this Class. Team member Alexandra Siebels finished 20th. Lars van Stekelenborg, who also participated in the Curacao Youth Championship, became the winner of the Benjamin Class.
Max Deckers became Netherlands Champion in the Optimist Class. For the first time in eight years, someone from Netherlands took the highest place at the podium. Ard van Aanholt began the event very strong but lost his momentum when the wind dropped down. Between all 280 sailors from 15 countries he finished 50th, just one number behind his brother Just van Aanholt.
Altogether, the young Antillean sailors gained a lot of experience in the Netherlands and this will help them in the future events with different weather conditions.