A Spectacular Weekend at the 18th St Maarten Budget Marine Optimist Sailing Championship

A Spectacular Weekend at the 18th St Maarten Budget Marine Optimist Sailing Championship

(photo's contributed) (photo's contributed)

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - This weekend, 41 youth sailors from five different countries gathered to compete in the 18th annual St. Maarten Budget Marine Optimist Championship. Sailors from the Antigua Yacht Club, St. Kitts and Nevis Sailing Association, Saint Martin Voile pour tous, Saint Martin MDA, Saint Barth Yacht Club and the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, battled for the win, during two exciting race days.

“It is great to see international teams coming to the Sint Maarten Yacht Club to join the Optimist Championship. In 2022, 26 kids joined the race showcasing the Championship's growth. We hope to continue this next year with teams from even more countries.” Said Dolein van de Loo, event organizer at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.

The Optimist Championship Kicked off with a ceremony on Friday November 24, for a team presentation, dinner, and the opening of the event. A special moment was dedicated to Carrick Jones for his remarkable achievement of sailing from Antigua to St. Maarten in an Optimist, arriving on Thursday, November 23rd, 11 PM.

On Saturday November 25 the first race day unfolded with 41 competitors racing in 3 different fleets: The Sailqube fleet for the youngest but enthusiastic racers, the orange fleet for intermediate and the blue fleet for the most advanced racers. 

The newest fleet of the championship, the Sailqube fleet, featured 9 young sailors. The competitors sailed 3 races on the first day and another 3 on day 2. The fight for the win was tight but after 2 days, Axel Vanden Eynde came in third place representing the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, Samuel Ricour, from Saint Martin Voile pour tous came in second and Axel le Calvex from the same club won the fleet with 10 points out of 6 races.

In the orange fleet 18 intermediate sailors raced against each other. Ruben van Hest representing Antigua Yacht Club took first place with 12 points out of 11 races. In this fleet the fight was about second and third place. After day one Mia Duce was second and Lluc Agusti was third, both from Antigua Yacht Club. But after race day two this changed and Lluc took over the second place which made Mia come in third position.

In the Blue fleet 14 experienced sailors competed for the win. The podium was dominated by French sailors from Saint Barths. The fight for second and third place was tight and took place between Tao Carmona and Lourenco Rolo Couto Jorge both from St Barth Yacht Club. Tao Carmona claimed second place after 2 days of racing and Lourenco Jorge claimed third. It was Thomas Magras, from the Saint Barths Yacht Club that dominated the event with a total of 13 points out of 11 races sailed. This result named him the overall winner of the 18th St. Maarten Optimist Championship. 

Special awards for Sportsmanship and Newcomer were also rewarded. The Race Organization rewarded Elliot Balland from the Saint Barths Yacht Club, as Best Newcomer. Balland joined the Saint Barths Yacht Club Racing Team only a few weeks ago and became 11th in the Orange Fleet. Congratulations! It was his first race off island.

Carrack Jones was rewarded with the Sportsmanship award. Even though he sailed 100 nm in his Optimist from Antigua to Sint Maarten, he participated in the full regatta. His journey took him over 30 hours, and he added another 10 hours of sailing on top, during the weekend by participating. This is true sportsmanship. Jones finished 6th in the blue fleet. 

Another special mention was there for Nathan Sheppard, from the Sint Maarten Yacht Club. The Sint Maarten Optimist Championship rewards the best sailor of Sint Maarten with the title ‘Sint Maarten National Dinghy Champion in the Optimist’. Sheppard finished 5th in the Blue Fleet, a great result. 

The SMYC would like to thank the protest committee; Steven Kern available online, Iain Mobbs and Nettie Valk.

With prizes from Budget Marine, Dinghy Dock Bar, Shipwreck Shop and the dessert Spot all the winners received an additional prize besides the trophies.

The organizers would like to thank all the volunteers for helping on and off the water, Budget Marine for their sponsorship, and partners Domino's and Zeebest for providing breakfast, lunch, and snacks. SMYC would also express their appreciation for all participating teams making the18th St. Maarten Budget Marine Optimist Championship a great experience.









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