Dinghy sailors take your mark! The first major regatta of the year takes place January 22 to 28, when the Ennia/Banco Di Caribe 2007 Curacao Open Youth Sailing Championships launches off Caracasbay for Optimists and Splashes.
“The Championships are for youth only, that is Optimist kids and the Splash is optimally sailed by kids ages 13 to 18. We’ll also have races in our club (YSCO) boats, but these boats are only for beginners,” says Marjolein van Aanholt-Grol, public relations manager for the host, Youth Sailing Netherlands Antilles (YSNA), and wife of YSNA president, Cor van Aanholt.
To make the event more interesting for European sailors as well, says Van Aanholt-Grol, “We will have a long distance event on the Tuesday and Wednesday before the weekend Championships held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. European sailors usually come a week or more. Most Caribbean participants will come on Thursday, but some prefer to come earlier to train or participate in the Long Distance event as well. Last year we had a clinic with Peruvian coach, Fernando “Happy” Allegre, right before the event.”
The regatta can be challenging in terms of both competition and sailing conditions. Last year, nearly 100 sailors from Europe as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Curacao participated, sailing in January conditions that included choppy open seas and stiff winds gusting to an average of 20 to 25 knots.
Charter boats are available. Organizers are bringing rental Splashes over from Europe and Winner Optimists are available.
What characterizes this regatta and sets it apart from many others, says Van aanholt-Grol, “is the personal touch. Even though we had more than 90 sailors last year, we picked up almost all participants from the airport with volunteers. The opening and registration was held at a beach house and was very warm and welcoming. The Long-distance prize giving was held at one of the ‘Land houses’, had a dinner and band included. On the Saturday night we had a dinner for all Caribbean participants and parents to get to know each other a bit better and to tighten the existing ties.”
Forward-thinking sailors should definitely think about competing in this regatta, for the venue may be the host site for even bigger competitions in the future.
“We have put in a bid to organize the North Americans for Optimist and the Splash Worlds in 2008,” says Van Aanholt-Grol. “Coming to our Championships now will give sailors the opportunity to check out the waters and island beforehand.”