During the Optimist SudAmericano held over Easter in Uruguay, lightweight sailors were definitely in favour among the 168 from 18 countries who participated in Punta del Este. The 13-year-old champion, Ignacio Varisco, came from Argentina and weighed only 29 kilograms (64 lbs.)
The Netherlands Antilles Optimist (AHO) sailors, who like other Caribbean youth sailors excel with strong wind, found the sailing conditions challenging. Leslie Jenkins from Argentina coached the AHO team that consisted of Deion and Jorden van Rooijen, Louis Hendrikx, Odile van Aanholt and Rhone Findlay. Findlay from St. Maarten/St. Martin participated for the first time in an IODA event; he qualified for the AHO team at the Curacao Youth Sailing Championships in January.
Jorge Gonzales from Puerto Rico was the first North American sailor, at the 14th position. The best sailor from the AHO team was 13-year-old Louis Hendrikx (54th overall) who sailed all his races with great consistency, finishing each race between 14 and 20. The only female team member, 12-year-old Odile van Aanholt, won the fourth race and set the best individual result.
During the team racing event, the Netherlands Antilles just missed the podium behind two teams from the USA and Puerto Rico. When the wind picked up a little bit, Deion van Rooijen (14) concluded his Optimist career in Punta del Este by sailing a fourth place in the final race. Tactically and technically at his best, he decided to jump into a new boat, Splash, laser or Sunfish and to say goodbye to the Optimist with its sensitivity towards weight.
The AHO sailors from Curacao and St. Maarten/St. Martin are now preparing for the Optinam, which will be held in Kingston, Canada June 26 – July 4th. More information can be found at www.ysna.info or at www.optiworld.org.
AHO Team report and photos submitted by Marjolein van Aanholt