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Jr. Sailors Raise Money for KATS in O’Pen Bic Challenge

Seven sailors from Tortola, British Virgin Islands, set themselves the challenge of sailing around Tortola to raise money for a local sailing program. The sailors, ranging in age from eight to 14 years old, departed Road Town on Sunday, November 11 for the 25 mile circumnavigation of the island.

Sailing two nine-foot O’pen BIC dinghies, they sailed counter clockwise passing under the Beef Island bridge, down the North Shore and then back up the channel. The seven sailors rotated in and out of the dinghies from ribs that followed them the entire way. The group departed at 7:30 a.m. and sailed some 35+ miles. Unfortunately the challenge finished at Nanny Cay, just short of their starting point.

“After 10-hours on the water, and with the sun beginning to set, we decided to finish at Nanny Cay,” explained Dante Hodge, the eldest of the group of sailors. “We might have made the final 2-miles to Town, but with the wind dropping, it just seemed more prudent to play it safe.”

In the end the seven starters had whittled down to four and fatigue was a factor. In fact Sam Morrell, the youngest of the group, woke up from a nap to declare he was good for one more stint in the boats. “I have one more battery left,” he stated as he rotated into the O’pen BIC off Pockwood Pond.

The hardest part of the event was attempting to sail under the Beef Island bridge. There were several knots of current pushing against the boats, plus the wind was light. In the end the chase boats had to tow them under. Also difficult was the current in the narrows. The sailors made every attempt to hug Frenchman’s Cay as they battled two knots of current. It took the boats two hours to sail the two miles upwind from Sopers Hole to Fort Recovery.

The highlight of the challenge was running downwind down the North Shore, and fishing off one of the chase boats when they weren’t racing. “It was great to have seen all of Tortola from the water,” said Jason Putley.

The sailors were Dante Hodge (age 14), Arno Paletta (12), Josh Morrell (10), David Hirst (10), Jason Putley (9), James Nicholas (9) and Sam Morrell (8).
The O’Pen BIC Challenge raised $1,350 for KATS.

Report and photos submitted by O’Pen BIC Challenge

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