The waters of Biscayne Bay were awash in boats and marine life during the 40th annual Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta, hosted out of Miami, Florida's Coral Reef Yacht Club December 26 to 30. First, there were the record 731 junior sailors helming Optimists, Lasers, Club 420s and International 420s. Then, there were coach boats of all shapes and sizes and a fleet of both sail and power spectator boats. Finally, a pod of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins decided they'd call the 420 fleet home.
On this international stage – the largest youth regatta in the United States with 17 countries attending – several Caribbean sailors put our region on the map with their sailing prowess. This was no mean feat, as temperatures dropped into the 40s at daybreak, and several national, continental and world champions filled the ranks.
The Laser fleet, which was divided into 4.7s, Radials and Full Rigs, had 192 competitors. Just van Aanholt from Curacao won the 32-boat Laser 4.7 class.
"I don't have a secret to my success," said Van Aanholt. "I have just been sailing consistently. My direct opponents, Maximilian Stein from Germany and Juanky Perdomo from Puerto Rico, both had OCS's and I managed to stay clear." Perdomo, an accomplished Optimist sailor who has just transitioned to Lasers, finished third.
This was the first year event organizers included an International 420 dinghy event and 22 teams participated. Puerto Rico's Raul Rios, sailing with crew Rogelio Fernandez, finished second in I-420s.
"Well, the key really is training hard and being organized in the water and on land," said Rios, who will compete next in the ISAF Youth Worlds in Turkey this summer. "I think these two factors, combined with a good plan, were crucial to doing well at the Orange Bowl."
In the 90-boat Club 420 fleet, Tyler Rice (St. Thomas) and Billy Gibbons (St. Croix) finished third after four days and 12 races. "Our boat speed was definitely a big factor," said Rice. "We had a little more knowledge in the boat than most. Billy did the whole Optimist circuit when he was younger and is a good skipper in his own right. I guess you'd say we had two skippers on boats, two heads making all the tactical decisions, and it worked." The 223-boat Optimist fleet was so big that race organizers split it in two. In the end, Arthur Fortune from Guadeloupe, who represented the Yacht Club of Cannes, finished 10th overall and eighth in the 13- to 15-year-old Red Fleet. Many other Caribbean sailors, who didn't take home medals, did post fantastic finishes. For example, St. Thomas' Olin Davis and Beverlene Elmer from Washington state finished eighth in the Club 420s, while St. Thomas' Nikki Barnes and St. John's Ian Coyle ended 7th in the International 420 Class. St. John's Max Nickbarg finished fifth in the Laser Full Rig class and St. Thomas' Ian Barrows earned seventh place in Laser Radials. In the Optimist Blue (age 11 and 12) fleet, Trinidad's Derek Poon Tip finished 11th while Curacao's Odile van Aanholt ended 12th. For complete results, visit www.coralreefyachtclub.org.
Trinidad Sailing Scheme Produces Fast Results
The new T&T National Sailing Scheme produced its first international victory after only two months. A team of two boys and two girls from Trinidad & Tobago Sailing Association, Optimist sailors Abigail Affoo, Kelly Ann Arrindell and Derek Poon Tip, together with Laser sailor Wesley Scott, went to the Orange Bowl in Miami. As part of the initial training program for the new National Sailing Scheme, the team spent two weeks before Christmas training for the event at TTSA in Chaguaramas under the guidance of visiting UK instructors Steve Jackson and Seb Godsmark. Competition over the 12-race series was of an extremely high standard and races were hard fought. In race nine of the Optimist series, Derek Poon Tip put in a superb performance to come in first place ahead of over 200 other sailors. The final results saw all T&T sailors in the top third of the field, gaining just reward for their hard efforts in training and competition. Thanks go to SPORTT for helping to fund the team and the training program, which continues to go from strength to strength. Report submitted by Trinidad & Tobago Sailing Association
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.