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Record Turnout of Youth Sailors at Knots Races in Curacao

More than 90 young sailors between six and 18 signed up for the November Knots races, an absolute record for Youth Sailing Curaçao (YSCO). Four times a year,  YSCO organizes these events where each sailor receives a small sailing knot and a participation plaque. At the clubhouse, all kids make a knots board and can collect knots to create their own. The board is accompanied by a book in which all sailing knots are described—so by sailing a lot of Knots races, the sailors get to know the knots used in the sailing world.

The spectators at the dock of the Asiento Yacht Club had exciting views with near collisions and sharp mark roundings in the intimate bay where wind was shiftier than usual. Spanish Water was not only filled with the 92 youth sailors but also with boats competing in the Hilton race and an enormous amount of anchored yachts.

Results in Splash and Sunfish:  Philipine van Aanholt (15) sailed very stable and solid in her Splash and, with three first places in a row, she showed her class. The second prize went to Vincent Taams, who was for the first time on the podium, followed by Dennis van den Berg on third. Two pairs of teenagers started in the Sunfish double class—Lauraine van Leeuwen and Merel Toornend finished first just before Dion Hoek and Thimo Stuijt.

Results in Optimist; Starters & Bronze:  More than 35 kids joined the YSCO club in August and 19 of them signed in for their first Knots races. The course was laid out right in front of the dock so all spectators could follow the race. After three races, Myron Stuijt finished first, and Baukje Sjoerdsma and Lars van Leeuwen became second and third. In the Bronze class, Max Fa Si Oen won for the first time. Evie Brandt, sprout of a sailors family, finished second and Tobias Manse, who won last month’s Cor van Aanholt race, ended in this race on the third spot.

Results in Silver & Gold: Aimee Voight in the Silver club boat class sailed excellently and showed, with her three first places, that she is ready to move on. Ivan Tambaorero, who participated for the first time, sailed with confidence to the second place and Myrthe Paarlberg became third.  In the Silver open class, girls dominated the field; Lynn van der Noord, Kyra Maas and Romy Toornend placed first, second and third respectively. In the Gold class the competition is tough because some of these kids want to make the team for the OPTINAM which will be held in June in Curaçao. Twelve year old Victor de Bar just bought a real Optimist and sailed three first places in a row. This sailor, who started sailing a year ago, is very talented and determined to make the AHO team. Kevin Maas sailed well and finished second, and Milou Bijsterbosch came in third.

Results in Diamond: Although most Diamond class sailors already qualified for the OPTINAM, the competition in this class is always tight. Ard van Aanholt sailed very consistently and gathered four points in three races and won the Knots races. However during the first race he concentrated so much on the position of his brother Just, that Kevin van Otterdijk managed to sneak ahead of the tacking brothers and won the race. Just van Aanholt finished second and Louis Hendrikx placed third, for the first on the Diamond podium. Kevin van Otterdijk finished fourth, and the nine year old Odile van Aanholt, who just came out of the Gold class, finished fifth. Eugene Hendrikx, who usually can be found in the top three, did not have his day. But it can also be a sign that the total level is rising.

At the prize giving ceremony, YSCO President Antoinette Akkerboom called visiting coach (and two times Optimist World Champion) Martin Jenkins from Argentina forward to comment on the race. “I’m impressed by the amount of youth sailors out of one club and the efficiently run races,” he said. Jenkins is visiting the island to give a clinic to the top group in Optimist and Splash, to prepare them for the CYC2008 and the OPTINAM which will be sailed in the bay of Jan Thiel.

More information and results can be found at: www.ysco.org

Youth Sailing Curaçao

In 2001, Cor van Aanholt, Mariette Jacobs, and Willy de Jong established Youth Sailing Curaçao. The club started with 65 kids wanting to learn to sail Optimist dinghies. Fifteen sailing school Optis were bought for the club and 25 ‘look alike’ Optimists were bought for private ownership. In 2003, the first ‘real’ Optimists were shipped to the Island. Optimist sailors were divided into different experience levels, Starters, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Diamond. Each class is accompanied by a diploma with a set of skills a sailor needs to accomplish before being able to sail into the next class. In 2005, YSCO choose the Splash as follow-up boat for kids who outgrew or out-aged the Optimist.

Right from the start, the club concentrated on fun activities besides developing the essential sailing skills. The annual International Curaçao Youth Championships, Club Championships, and Knots races are accompanied by fun activities such as moonlight sailing, a yearly sailing camp, and water games. All elements together created a successful base for a solid youth sailing club with 135 sailors today. This fast-growing group of sailors is already participating in International regattas and World Championships in Optimist and Splash.

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