February's two-day Interlux One Design Regatta played out like a teen movie where the youngsters vanquish the evil crinklies and go on to win the day!
Team Blonde, comprising of skipper Jolyon Ferron, Rhône Findley, and the brother/sister duo of Saskia and Stephen Looser, not only took on some of the best the best in the Caribbean, they danced around them.
Both days brought gusts of 30 knots causing tricky wind shifts across the Simpson Bay Lagoon. "Conditions were really windy, which we like," says 15 year-old skipper Jolyon, well aware that the fleet of Jeanneau Sun Fast 20s were nearing their upper safety limits.
"It's fun sailing with these guys, but it can be rather annoying sometimes being the only girl," says 14 year-old Saskia Looser who works the sheets and vang. Like the rest of the team, she learned to sail in the St. Maarten Yacht Club Youth Sailing Program and is an expert dinghy sailor.
It's not unheard of for a Sun Fast 20 to sink in strong conditions. Stephen was in no doubt as to why his team did not falter. "I was very loose on the mainsheet. In these conditions it's really important. A lot of the other teams are older. They claimed we're young and we're fit and can hold the mainsheet the whole time. They have to put it in the cleat and when the gusts come, they just can't get it free in time."
Fourteen year-old RhÃ´ne is building a reputation as a champion dinghy sailor but he has no trouble sailing as part of a team. "I find that we work well together, so that helps. All the experience I've learned from Optimists is really paying off in any boat I sail," says Rhône. He adds, "It's really nice sailing with more people."
The team were delighted that Jolyon's father, veteran racer Robbie Ferron, could only manage seventh place. "I really enjoyed making him aware that he had more than double our points," laughed Jolyon.
Gary E. Brown is the Editorial Director of All At Sea. He hosts the radio show YachtBlast on Island 92, St. Maarten, and is the author of the thriller/sailing adventure Caribbean High. For more information visit: garyebrown.net