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Wind Shifts Commandeer 8th North Sails Regatta

Twelve teams compete in One Design Keelboat Championships

Ever-changing winds June 21 and 22 created a challenge for competitors during the 8th annual North Sails Caribbean One Design Keelboat Championships. With 12 teams competing for first place the competition was intense, and in the end the point difference between first and second place was only 0.7.

A total of 18 races were sailed over the course of two days with a one pool format, with 12 teams competing in eight boats thus allowing four teams to take a break in between races. Both regatta organizers and the main sponsor were thrilled with this weekend’s results, and according to Ernst Looser, owner of Tropical Sail Loft, agent for North Sails St. Maarten, “It went very well, very enjoyable as the racing was closer than normal. North Sails is proud to be part of such high quality event with much credit going to the volunteers, especially Cary with organizing the event and Race Officer Andrew Rapley's excellent work, which kept all competitors happy.”
Teams competing from around the Caribbean, with sailors such as Simon Manley of St. Maarten, Markku Harmala of St. Barths and Frits bus of St. Maarten battled it out over two days, twelve races each and eighteen total races for the fleet which allowed, for the first time ever, each team the opportunity to drop one race from their results. The winner was decided by 0.7 of a point leaving Markku Harmala, Team St. Barth Libre, with the win of 27 total points, and Frits Bus, Team Aqua Mania, placing second with 27.7 points. Third place went to Simon Manley, of team Scuba Shop with 33 points overall. Speaking to Markku after the event, he stated “Fun, very fun. Nice people to race with, good organization even with the shifty conditions. It was perfect one design racing!”

The teams raced on the Sun Fast 20s over the course of two days in the Lagoon, using a floating dock and change boat Santino courtesy of Aqua Mania and a Lagoon 41 as the committee boat. Together teams watched their fellow sailors battle it out each race and the overall atmosphere was total joy being able to be out on the water in such splendid conditions. And although they were competing against each other, those who were resting on the change boat were cheering and rooting for their fellow competitors. The camaraderie was outstanding to say the least.

When asked how he felt the weekend’s racing went, Frits Bus, of team Aqua Mania stated, “Interesting! With the wind shifts and the ups and downs of wind strengths. It was good sailing conditions for this regatta, lots of different types of weather; light, breezy, shifty then steady!”

Racing was finished by 1 p.m. on Sunday, and once all the boats were back at the dock at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, sailors sat down to a fantastic BBQ lunch and the prize giving ceremony. Yacht Club board member and competitor Simon Manley thought “it was a fantastic event, and a really great weekend. The wind shifts were challenging along with the quality of the other crews.”

The points score was more compact than in most regattas. In spite of the leaders pulling away on points overall. Each of them spent many moments in the “pack” trying to break out. The first positions were to be found on the score card as low as 10th place. A great many sailors had a place in the top three at different times.

The rules knowledge of sailors was high, which resulted in very little contact and dissension, in spite of the very short course. Starts were consistently high level with boats lined up right across the line showing an elevated level of starting.

So now that the sails are put away, the boats neatly tied to the docks and the competitors on their flights back home, it’s fair to say that the sailing conditions in St. Maarten are ideal for one design racing and regardless of the constant wind shifts, all the competitors had a great time and look forward to returning to St. Maarten in 2010 to battle it out once again.

Report and photos submitted by St. Maarten Yacht Club

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