The first annual SIMSAF National Lagoon Championship Sailing Event was held on Saturday 31st October in the Simpson Bay lagoon where many of Sint Maarten and St Martins top sailors competed for the title. . A total of 13 races were sailed by 13 teams in 7 identical Jeanneau 20’s from Lagoon Sailboat Rental, using a rotation schedule.
Many youngsters participated in the event, showing the increasing interest in sailing from this particular age group. Initiatives such as the sailing program at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club where these kids have been sailing for many years, as well as The Kids At Sea Program, a volunteer organization providing marine related learning opportunities to High School students, help to foster this interest in sailing.
The weather on Saturday was very variable, with the wind dropping considerably in the afternoon. These varying conditions called for specific strategies which in sailors talk is called “powering up and powering down“ and therefore required constant concentration throughout the day of racing. In spite of their age, some kids handled the changing conditions with ease and executed all the strategies that are required for varying wind speeds and changing wind directions. The Kids At Sea Coaches Garth Steyn, Rien Korteknie and Iain Mobbs showed the local youngsters the challenges that come with sailing in variable conditions in smaller keel boats, providing them with a fantastic learning experience.
More seasoned teams also participated during the regatta, both from the Dutch and French side of the island, being regular sailors in bigger events like the Course de L’Alliance and St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and providing good competition overall.
Our own Team Budget Marine, headed by Robbie Ferron with Steve Ellsworth and a crew originating from the Kidz At Sea program, Simon Speetjens came in third. Robbie Ferron commented: “The opportunity to be able to have high quality one design fleet racing on event supplied boat is due to the generosity of Lagoon Sailboat Rental who own the boats and Budget Marine who facilitate the ongoing storage and launching facilities for these boats. Through being able to provide this equipment it becomes possible to bring sailors of different origins and ages together in a meaningful l skill based event.”
1. Team Island Water World: Frits Bus, Huub Lambooy, Bernard Fourie
2. Team Alec Scarabelli, Johanna Looser, Tara DeLaSalle
3. Team Budget Marine: Robbie Ferron, Steve Ellsworth, Simon Speetjens
4. Team Ryan Hope Rosswith, Max Loubser, Ziggy Miller
A big thank you goes out to the Race Management which was in the hands of Andrew Rapley as race officer and on the water judges David de Vries and Paul Miller, main organizers Cary Byerley and Robbie Ferron, host location Lagoonies Bar & Bistro and of course all participants.
The Sint Maarten Sailing Federation, also known as SIMSAF, is the national body that is affiliated to “AHO sailing “ (AHO is the international code for the Netherlands Antilles ) and which remains as the National Member Authority at the International Sailing Federation.