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St. Maarten Hosts Youth Optimist Regatta

On Saturday October 22nd the St. Maarten Yacht Club hosted its 1st Youth Optimist Regatta in the Simpson Bay Lagoon. Two teams competed - one from St. Maarten and one from St. Barths, with twelve youths ranging in ages 9 to 15. The St. Maarten team comprised Stephen Looser, Kippy Gilders, Jasmijn and Karlijn van der Burg, Jolyon Ferron, Harry Antrobus, Max Hootmans and Frederique Sinke. The St. Barths team comprised Leo Jordil, Cesar Hardelay, Michael Ecmailer and Guy Maxime. There were seven races for the day.

The race officer was Lyn Rapley while International judge David de Vries officiated on protests.

The first race of the day started with bad weather conditions and a strong gust before the finish of the first race caused mayhem within the fleet with most of the boats capsizing and only four finishing the race. After a short recuperation in the club house at the St. Maarten Yacht Club and some repairs to the boats the fleet was back on the water with the weather conditions improving constantly through out the day.

Stephen Looser was the overall winner with Leo Jordil beating out his countryman Cesar Hardelay for second place; Cesar’s performance was more consistent in the afternoon earning him the third place. Kippy Gilders capsized in race three but by the end of day was much closer to the front of the fleet to take fifth place. The most improved sailor of the day was Jasmijn van der Burg whose consistency and coolness at a young age makes her a sailor to watch. She took seventh place behind Guy Maxime who fell ill during the final races.

Many parents and well wishers were in the spectator’s fleet to watch the action as the young sailors rounded the buoys that were located between Port de Plaisance and Palapa Marina.

Although the St. Maarten Yacht Club has had a youth programme for many years, not much racing has taken place. The new focus on racing is creating greater interest. The energy and hard work of Ernst Looser on the available equipment at the Yacht Club has resulted in great improvements to facilitate this racing.

St. Barths has the availability of coaches and good equipment which was shown in their results for the day. The St. Maarten Yacht Club is committed to raising the standard of youth sailing here on St. Maarten.

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