Over a dozen junior sailors from the Caribbean flew to Istanbul, Turkey, July 8 to 17, to compete in the 40th Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship. This was a near, if not a bona fide, record representation from the Caribbean in one of the largest ISAF Youth World Championships, which boasted nearly 350 sailors from 59 countries. Caribbean sailors hailed from the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Netherlands Antilles, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This event is very much like a mini-Olympics because each country can only send one entry per boat class and this entry is usually the best of the best.
The Caribbean sailors primarily filled the ranks of both Boys and Girls in the two-person International 420 and Laser Radial. The event also hosted 29er, SL16 and RSX classes.
Sister and brother, Philipine and Ard van Aanholt, finished highest in their respective laser classes, of the Caribbean sailors, with Philipine 9th out of 46 sailors and Ard 15th out of 50.
Christopher Sands, from the Bahamas, finished 28th out of 50, and was quoted in an ISAF press release as saying, “After eight hard and exciting races, four days of travelling and 24 hours flight delay my trip to Istanbul is over. The competition was tough and everybody was very friendly.”
This marked the second year Jasia King from St. Lucia competed at the Youth Worlds. Summing up the importance of the event, King was quoted as saying, “This is the main event I can do. It is really amazing because not often can I come to an event, which has over 350 sailors and 52 Radial girls, I don’t normally sail with that many boats, so that is an experience for me and that is what I am looking for.”
This event was indeed important for the Caribbean sailors, says Heidi Coyle, who traveled with the four-member U.S. Virgin Islands team. “There is very little opportunity to compete in a large fleet since we are isolated in the Caribbean, so it is much more challenging for our sailors because they have less experience in larger fleets. However, ISAF made it easy for the competitors since they took care of all the logistics: boats, sails, accommodations and meals.”
U.S. Virgin Islands’ sailors, Nikki Barnes and Agustina Barbuto finished mid-fleet, or 14 out of 28, in the Girls International 420.
Barbuto says, “Because the conditions are not what we’re used to, I had to stay very focused, especially in the starts. The best part of the regatta was the last days when the wind picked up. That was a big relief.”
The sailing conditions were not at all what most Caribbean sailors expected or have trained in. There were extremely light winds with no waves. In addition, the 420 course was the furthest away from shore so those sailors had to sail one hour just to get to the starting line. The laser course was a bit closer, but it was still a 45 minute sail. There were also long delays because of no wind. One day the sailors actually launched at 4:30 pm and returned at 9:30 pm, in the dark, only to sail one race.
This year, ISAF selected 24 sailors from 11 nations to receive funding from its Athlete Participate Program. All Caribbean sailors, as well as those from Bermuda, Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, and Samoa received funding support.
LASER RADIALS – BOYS
Ard van Aanholt, Curaçao, 15/50
William Bailey, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, 26/50
Christopher Sands, Bahamas, 28/50
Ramon Gonzalez, Puerto Rico, 29/50
LASER RADIAL – GIRLS
Philipine van Aanholt, Curaçao, 9/46
Marina Maffessanti, Jamaica, 43/46
Jasia King, St. Lucia 44/46
INTERNATIONAL 420 – BOYS
Raul Rios/Rogelio Fernand, Puerto Rico, 18/36
Alex Coyle/Alec Tayler, St. John/St. Thomas,
U.S. Virgin Islands, 25/36
INTERNATIONAL 420 – GIRLS
Nikki Barnes/Agustina Barbuto, St. Thomas/St. John,
U.S. Virgin Islands, 14/28
Note: The first number is the sailor’s finish place, the second number is the total number of boats in the class.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based
marine writer and registered dietitian.