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Bonaire Sailing Regatta and Festival

Time to celebrate – the crew of La Dolce Vita, winners in Racing Class 2 and Overall Winners of the 2016 Bonaire Regatta. Photos by Cisca Rusch

Junior sailors ruled at the 49th Bonaire Sailing Regatta and Festival, held in October on Kralendijk’s Bay just north of Klein Bonaire. Out of six categories, Curaçao’s Sea Scouts from the Mgr. Verriet Group picked up trophies in two categories: Racing and Optimist dinghy. Adult sailors also took their turn on the podium as the regatta featured over 50 entries from Bonaire, Aruba and Curaçao.

“The racing class was very exciting because there were four J24s which raced against each other. Right up until the end the result wasn’t sure,” explains Annelies Ackermans-Selling, group leader of the Sea Scouts, which had crews of six scouts each, boys and girls between 15 and 24 years of age, aboard the La Dolce Vita and Chamba II. “In the last race, La Dolce Vita with Captain Derek Bongaertz won Racing II Class and Overall Racing category while Chamba II scored second place. So, the Sea Scouts were all winners.”

Three Sea Scouts, all under age 13, participated in the Optimists. Sarinah Kleinmoedig placed second in C-class.

“The most exciting part of the Bonaire Regatta is when all the participants and volunteers come together for this event. We, as a group of 20 people, stay together like a camp. We sleep together, eat together, sail together and it’s fun to see the teamwork around it,” says Ackermans-Selling, whose late husband Jan Ackermans, a multi-time winner at this regatta, donated his J24, Chamba II to the Sea Scouts to keep his legacy alive. “It is a competition, but every person is excited for the other. That solidarity is what made it great and it was a wonderful thing to experience and is in my opinion the true meaning of the Bonaire Regatta. That is, coming together to sail.”

On the water at the 49th Bonaire Sailing Regatta. Photos by Cisca Rusch
On the water at the 49th Bonaire Sailing Regatta. Photos by Cisca Rusch

In the Cruising class, it was Eric Mijts, organizer of the annual Aruba Regatta, who won aboard his 1963-built steel yawl, Eva Luna.

“There is a lot of close racing in the Cruising class, especially in the decades old rivalry between us and Venus Callipyge (Defender 29) as well as Melody (Jeanneau 34). These last two boats are from Curaçao, and we all race each other in Bonaire, Curaçao and Aruba. The closest racing was when Venus Callipyge managed to block Eva Luna from tacking, so both boats overshot the finish line by several boat lengths. In the end Eva Luna managed to win the regatta, but the tactics by Venus’ captain Hans van der Straaten were brilliant,” says Mijts, who has sailed in the Bonaire Regatta 14 times, won five times and successfully defended his Cruising class win from last year.

In other categories, Sipke Stapert and Bruno Brouwers won in Sunfish; Bas van der Gulik, Jayson Montesant and Stefan Tromp the A, B and C Optimist classes, respectively; Aron Etmon in windsurfing and Red Dragon in Solar boats.

“We had a fantastic regatta with happy sailors who were enthusiastic about this year’s edition,” says regatta director, Viktor Wijnand. “Next year we celebrate the Bonaire Regatta’s 50th anniversary. Exact dates are forthcoming, but it will be in early October 2017.”

For full results, visit: www.bonaireregatta.org

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