Twelve-year-old, Leonardo Knol, sailing for St. Maarten, took top honors at the 5th annual SOL International Optimist Regatta held November 5th. Second place went to Hosea Williams (15) of Antigua, coached by Olympic medalist, Karl James. Third place went to another St. Maarten youngster, Nathan Smith (9).
Twenty-nine sailors from six island territories participated in the biggest event ever. Sailors and coaches arrived from Anguilla, Antigua, BVI, St. Barths, and Nevis. Organized by the St. Maarten Yacht Club, the regatta featured eminent Race Officer, Alfred Koolen, and International Judge, David De Vries.
“Sol is very pleased to once again be the sponsor of the 2011 Optimist Regatta,” enthused David Antrobus, SOL’s General Manager.
Antrobus said his company had been there from the first Optimist Regatta in 2005 when only 12 boats from two countries participated. And that it was especially pleasing this year to see six countries participating with 29 boats.
The size of this year’s SOL Regatta is notable, not only because of its popularity, but because it’s a challenge to find opportunities for these young sailors to experience ‘big boat’ starts within the region. It’s a real skill to learn how to start properly on a crowded start-line. Success requires superb boat-handling, focused mental strategy, and a keen will to win.
The competitors were divided into two groups: Senior Class for children 12 and over; and Junior Class for those 11 and younger. Nathan Smith (9) from St. Maarten, won the Junior Division, followed by another St. Maarten sailor, Alec Scarabelli (11) and Rocco Falcone (10), of Antigua. The Senior Division standings were Leonardo Knol (12), St. Maarten, Hosea Williams (15), Antigua, and Thomas Maccow (14), Anguilla.
A special Sportsmanship Award was given to 10-year-old Nathalie Fay of the BVI. She experienced a difficult incident while rounding a mark, chose to take the high road, and set a good example for everyone.
Mister Antrobus summed it up at the prize-giving: “Sol looks forward to the day that these young sailors here today become the Mega yacht captains of the future.”