The Aruba Regatta has turned into a real tradition in the southern Caribbean in the short span of seven years. Yachts came from the ABC islands, and crews traveled from Venezuela, the US, Canada, Netherlands and Belgium, to sail in the August 15th to 17th event, hosted off Surfside Beach. Over 40 keel boats, Sunfish, beach cats, windsurfers and even a ‘self-built’ segment led to boatloads of fun.
A dozen keelboats raced in Open and Racing classes. The overall champion was a proven winner: Curacao’s Remco van Dortmondt driving his J/35, Dash, on which he and his crew defended their title as fastest yacht in the fleet for the fifth time.
“Our success aboard Dash was due to training and team-work. It’s a good boat and the crew has sailed it for many years together. This pays off,” says van Dortmondt, who enjoys the low-profile, beach-quality of the regatta as well as competing in six races over two days.
Aruban champion and veteran sailor Richard van der Wal finished first in the Sunfish races. In the beach cat class. Arubans Diederik Kemmeling and Henk Hankaart won the Beach Cat Cup. Unfortunately, third place winner Patrick Melchiors capsized and was rendered unconscious. Thanks to the immediate response of the Dutch Marines Corps he was rescued and stabilized immediately, thus preventing serious harm. In the windsurfing competition, Aruba’s Nathan Westera earned the kid’s division title while fellow islander Mack van den Eerenbeemt topped the crowded junior category.
The self-built boat component proved a special part of the Aruba Regatta. Boat building fanatic Andy Wong sailed his Whitehall Trimaran; Yair Lichtenstein his Ebihen, and Rik van der Vaart – owner of Studio Advisory the regatta’s main sponsor – brought his Pathfinder. Each showed off their boats and took time for questions from the public. The point of the self-built boat team was underscored by the participation of some 30 self-built micro boats that sailed their competition during the regatta.
“Demonstrating that people can build sailboats is the best part relating to the regatta,” says van der Vaart, who built his yawl rigged nearly 18-foot long John Welsford-designed sailboat over two years with his now eight-year-old daughter. “This is especially true for the kids who are (interested in) sailing. Hopefully a seed of interest in boat-building is planted during the regatta that will sprout at a later stage in life. Sailing is great but sailing the boat you built yourself is even more fun.”
The Aruba Regatta has earned Silver Status in Sailors for the Sea’s Clean Regattas certification scheme. Living up to this designation, the event’s sustainability officer, Anita Aerts, set up a number of initiatives to promote and stimulate interest in responsible resource management during the regatta. A great symbol of this effort is Aerts’ production of the regatta awards from reclaimed aluminum cans.
Looking ahead to the 2016 event, set for August 19th-21st 2016, regatta organizer Eric Mijts says: “The Aruba Regatta brings together sailors of different disciplines and from different places to celebrate sailing and friendship in a sustainable fashion.”
For information and full results, visit: aruba-regatta.com