On February 7 & 8, 2009 most of St.Maarten’s best sailors were on the starting line for the third annual NECOL Regatta providing intense competition during the weekend as the eight teams fought for the title. Conditions that were never too strong and never too light provided an ideal setting off Baie Nettle in the Simpson Bay lagoon where wind switches are only slightly more civilized than the usual sailing area off the airport runway.
The big winner in the fleet of Lagoon Sailboat Rental Jeanneau 20’s was Andrea Scarabelli with his Budget Marine/Gill team who with 28 points had a commanding lead over the second place team headed by Frits Bus (42 points). Third place with a total of 48 points went to Bernard Sillem and his Dutch French Connection team that would have done even better if they could have pulled off more firsts like they did with their three first places that they took on the Sunday morning session. Paul Miller (fourth place) squeezed Robbie Ferron into fifth by one point and Lyn Rapley (sixth place) squeezed Shag Morton into seventh place by one point—while Ruargh Findlay brought up the rear but still with two third places on the Sunday morning, reputedly with the help of his Optimist sailing, tactically-proficient son Rhone Findlay, who only sailed with him on Sunday.
The regatta was particularly appreciated by the sailors because the competitors were so close and the results show some of the top sailors coming way down the fleet on occasion whilst many of the lower end finishers regularly enjoyed periods at the front of the fleet. The fleet sailed 13 races and the end results were largely a result of consistency.
This year for the first time the regatta included a Laser fleet. Ernst Looser and Bill Mintz took on three of St.Maarten’s up and coming young sailors with the result being that Ernst had to fight Young Jolyon Ferron down to the last race to gain his lead. Both Ernst and Jolyon tied for first with 11 points but the tie was broken by Ernst having four first place finishes while Jolyon only had three. Third place went to Harry Antrobus who just squeezed Stephen Looser into fourth place by one point. Bill Mintz brought up the rear and helped to keep the younger sailors on their toes.
At the award ceremonies, also announced was the St.Maarten Yacht Club and Lagoon Sailboat Rental “Sailor of the Year 2008” award; this year’s recipient was Rien Korteknie. Rien is without a doubt St.Maarten’s best crew member; every skipper on this island knows that if they have Rien racing with them they have a very good chance of winning the race and if they do not win they will be in the top three. Rien was a very popular choice for this award which could be told by the rousing applause he received when he walked up to collect his trophy. This is now the second year that this award has been handed out; last years winner was Bernard Sillem.
The NECOL regatta is the Sint Maarten Yacht club’s regatta that is focused on sailors present in St Maarten and this year excelled at showcasing that talent. NECOL is a marine technology company long established on Sint Maarten led by Andrew Rapley who also served as Race Officer for the event. NECOL specializes in high tech repairs and support on larger yachts.
Event report and photographs submitted by Sint Maarten Yacht Club