Sailors take part in the Bahamas Youth Olympic Championships
The annual Bahamas Youth Olympic Championships was hosted this past weekend by the Bahamas National Sailing School and the Nassau Yacht Club, with sailing at Montagu Bay.
There were close to 70 participating sailors, ranging from ages eight to 17, sailing in three different classes – the Optimist, Laser and Sunfish. The New Providence sailors were joined by a crew of sailors from Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Long Island and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The sailors enjoyed relatively light winds on Saturday, but the conditions picked up on Sunday, posing some challenges for the less experienced sailors.
The 10-boat Laser fleet was won by Joshua Weech, and finishing second and third, respectively, were Zachary Knowles and Craig Ferguson, who all sail with the Bahamas National Sailing School.
The clear winner in the Sunfish fleet was Dawson Knowles from Long Island, with Jaron Francis and Delano Davis of the Bahamas National Sailing School in second and third, respectively. It was particularly noteworthy that a Long Island sailor won so competitively, as their local junior sailing club, led by Mack Knowles, has been inoperational for a few years since hurricane damage, COVID-19 and other issues forced its closure. A number of Long Island parents and volunteers are now trying to re-establish the club with assistance from the Bahamas Sailing Association. They seek financial backing from the government and corporate sectors in order to buy boats and equipment to get them back afloat.
A large 21-boat green fleet of optimist sailors was won by 12-year-old Rudolph Ferguson of the Bahamas National Sailing School with Zoya Manwatkar of Lyford Cay and Kai Harvey of the Bahamas National Sailing School finishing second and third, respectively.
The competition in the Optimist championship was very strong. The 25 participating sailors were battling for their national rankings to qualify for the international race team. Those who qualify will represent The Bahamas at the Optimist World Championships in June in Antigua and Barbuda and several other high-profile international events. The first and second places were taken by Eliza Denning and Patrick Tomlinson, respectively, both of Lyford Cay/Royal Nassau Sailing Club, while Finley McKinney-Lambert from the Eleuthera Sailing Academy finished in third place.
The Bahamas National Sailing School thanked the Nassau Yacht Club for its ongoing hospitality and the Bahamas Olympic Committee for their continued support of junior sailing over the years and sponsorship of this extremely popular junior event.