Benoit Meesmaecker may well have earned copyright on the Heineken Light Caribbean Open Laser Championships after winning it so many times. If not, he has certainly made it his own, and his presence every year comes with that air of authority top sailors seem to have.
He just happens to be in a higher league, and his fourth place in Masters at the Laser Worlds in Mexico two weeks before his Heineken Light win confirms his level of skill.
The St. Barth’s sailor successfully defended his title in June at the 27th edition held in St. Martin’s Orient Bay (even he is not sure how many times he has won it) fending off the talented Rhône Findlay, now a top US College sailor, and the always tenacious Frits Bus.
Meesmaecker won five of the six races on Saturday, and two of three on Sunday. He reported excellent conditions on the course with easterly winds blowing 14 to 18 knots over the two days of racing.
“It was a wonderful regatta as usual. At times I had close sailing with Rhône but I expected to have more of a battle with him. I told him once when you can beat a Master, then you are sailing well,” Meesmaecker joked.
The champion’s future plans include going to Marblehead in September for the US National Laser Masters and again to the Laser Worlds in Croatia next year.
The Open category was won by Meesmaecker, Rhône Findlay was second and Asher Drijgers third.
Frits Bus won the Masters category, Olivier Bernaz was second, and third place went to the Dominican Republic’s Jorge Abreu. Radials was won by Cindy Pumbo, second place went to Carson Gifford, and third to Sébastien Luir.
“We had strong wind on Sunday which suited us heavier sailors. It was always close racing and Rhône especially did well, finishing second overall,” Bus said.
The regatta was organised by the St. Maarten Yacht Club and made possible by Heineken Light, Island Water World, Sunsail, Club Orient and Fiji Water. Race Officer’s duties were handled by Andrew Rapley and helpers.