Paul de Souza, King win Optimist Fall Regatta
The Optimist Fall Regatta for our junior sailors was hosted by the Royal Nassau Sailing Club this past weekend. Although the wind and waves on Saturday were just too much for the Optis (winds over 25 knots), Sunday proved to be a perfect sailing day for the Gold and Silver fleets. Five races were sailed by the Gold Fleet and four by the Silver Fleet. The breeze was from the northeast at 14 to 18 knots; great for the heavier kids racing upwind and perfect for lighter weights planning downwind. Racing for the Green Fleet (beginners) was postponed to next weekend as the winds were too high for them.
The racing in the Gold Fleet was extremely close with the top five sailors in the seven boat fleet battling it out to the finish in almost every race. Paul de Souza, with his dominating speed downwind, won three of the five races; and with 10 points overall, won the Gold Fleet division. The next three places were separated by only one point each. Daniel Gibson, last year’s Opti National Champion, was second with 14 points; Spencer Cartwright, this year’s national champion, was third with 15 points; and Alande Forbes was fourth with 16 points.
This group brought great entertainment to all onshore observers who were watching, as they changed positions so many times. Three out of the four of these top sailors are just 12-years-old.
The Silver Fleet (newly created division) made its debut on the water a spectacle to watch, as so many of these kids have only been sailing for a year and had never raced in such high winds before. There were capsizes and a whole lot of bailing, but all of the kids sailed well, and when asked at the end of the day how they liked it, they all said it was great and they are ready to do it again. Points-wise, the first four sailors in this 10-boat fleet were very close. The overall winner was Richard King with a total of 12 points, and second was Nathaniel Burnside with 15 points. Third place went to Lommen Van Hagen with 17 points.
Both King and Burnside are two out of a number of sailors from the Ranfurly Homes for Children who have been in the Bahamas Sailing Association’s (BSA) sailing program for just over a year. These kids are all sponsored through the generosity of Milton Mosko, who always says how much of a smile sailing puts on these kids’ faces – and his as well.
This weekend’s event was a great experience not only for the sailors, but also for a number of the parents who got involved for the first time in race management. At the end of the day one or two could be heard saying, “there is a lot more to this than one would ever think and I have to say I enjoyed it.”
It is a great way for parents to see first hand how well their youngsters are doing and to be there to support them. Coolidge Cartwright and Chris Burrows were out on the waters, on the signal boat, doing the timing, flags and scoring, while Roger Eldon with Gary Van Hagen handled setting the marks and assisting Donico Brown and Mishael Taffin (two of the BSA instructors) with keeping a close eye on the sailors. Organizers extended a special thank-you to all of them.
This event was a trial event for a series of Optimist regattas, which will begin next year. The plan is to have one major regatta like this each quarter, other than the quarter in which the Optimist National Championships are held, and hosted by a different sailing club in New Providence. This gives the junior sailors something to look forward to every few months, as well as their parents.